QCCS shares tips for Plastic Free July
The Sector > Workforce > Advocacy > Fostering the next generation of sustainably conscious children: the role of ECEC in Plastic Free July

Fostering the next generation of sustainably conscious children: the role of ECEC in Plastic Free July

by Queensland Childcare Services General Manager Laura Faalili

June 26, 2024

In my role as General Manager of Queensland Childcare Services (QCCS) I’ve seen firsthand how early education can shape children’s understanding of the world.


Our educators enhance children’s social, emotional, intellectual, and physical development, nurturing the minds and hearts of the next generation.


But what about their views on sustainability and caring for the environment?


Well, QCCS believes that instilling sustainable practices in our youngest generation has never been more critical. From learning how to reduce waste to taking care of the environment, every small action can make a big difference, ensuring sustainable practices become a standard way of life. Through interactive play and hands-on learning, we can teach children the importance of protecting our planet.


And what better time to be doing this than Plastic Free July, where there is a unique opportunity for educators to integrate environmentally responsible practices into daily routines and teach children the significance of environmental stewardship.


Here are some of the initiatives we’re implementing to reduce plastic use and promote environmental consciousness among our young learners:


Eco-Friendly Arts and Crafts


Creativity can go hand-in-hand with sustainability. We encourage children to use recycled materials like cardboard, fabric scraps, and natural items such as leaves and twigs in their art projects. This not only fosters creativity but also teaches the value of repurposing and reducing waste. Additionally, we have banned balloons from our services to reduce plastic waste in art and decorations.


Reusable Snack Containers


Snack time offers a great opportunity to introduce sustainable habits, where we educate children on the importance of reducing single use plastic. It’s here that we use eco-friendly recyclable food containers and food nets to reduce the use of cling wrap.


Gardening Projects


Gardening is a powerful way for children to connect with nature. At QCCS, we involve children in planting and caring for gardens. This hands-on activity teaches them about plant life cycles, the benefits of composting, and how reducing food waste helps the environment. Gardening nurtures a sense of responsibility and accomplishment while enhancing their understanding of sustainability. Our centres also engage in composting and worm farming to further instil these values.


Plastic-Free Challenges


To make sustainability more tangible, we organise plastic-free challenges. These encourage children to avoid single-use plastics for a day or a week, prompting them to find and use alternatives. These activities make the concept of sustainability practical and achievable for young minds.


We are also introducing a Plastic Free Outdoor Day on 31 July as part of a company wide initiative to encourage loose parts play, allowing children, educators and families to think out of the box when creating experiences for children and what types of resources can evoke a sense of imagination to facilitate play.


Our educators’ role is so vital in guiding children toward sustainability and a more environmentally responsible mindset.


As part of our ongoing professional development we have appointed a dedicated Sustainability Officer, as well as self-appointed Green team members in each centre who receive support, guidance and training to embed sustainable practices.


By embedding these activities into the curriculum, educators create an environment that prioritises sustainability. They act as role models, demonstrating environmentally responsible behaviours and emphasising the importance of caring for our planet.


At QCCS, we are dedicated to providing innovative learning opportunities that connect children to person, place, and planet.


Our sustainability-focused initiatives during Plastic Free July are in addition to our already extensive efforts as a company to reduce our footprint and educate the children through the process. These also go far beyond a month of experiences to equip children with the knowledge and skills needed to make environmentally conscious choices.


By fostering a connection to the environment, we hope to inspire the next generation to lead the way towards a more sustainable future.


Through interactive and engaging experiences, we can nurture a generation of environmentally conscious individuals who are equipped to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.


This Plastic Free July, let’s all take a step towards a cleaner, greener future by empowering our children with the knowledge and habits that will sustain our planet for years to come.

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