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With National Recycling Week fast approaching it is a great time to review our recycling practices and learn what more we could do.
It is also a time for us to step back and think and reflect on what changes we could make so we need to recycle less. 
 
Changing the way we live and work
While recycling is essential to living more sustainably, ensuring that what we take from the earth is recycled and repurposed as often as possible there are more important steps that comes before this. Some would say refuse, so that you buy, or take, to your service and your home as little as possible that needs to be recycled. In order to achieve this outcome we need to rethink what we do, reflect and then reframe our thinking. This has appeared to most of us as an insurmountable task. Perhaps one of the things that the changes we have experienced due to the ongoing Covid-19 epidemic is that we can make big changes when we must.
When things are mandated by regulation or legislation we are bound as a community to follow the new guidelines or rules of living. This is what governments do and there are often fines associated with non-compliance. One of the basic laws we have lived with for many years that helps protect our environment relates to littering. There are always those few who, no matter what, fail to follow rules; but the majority of us are willing to conform to community interests and needs. When governments and councils impose rules and regulations to change community behaviour this is called top-down down change. Provided we have governments who value the same things as us we do we will get many of the changes we want through this process.
We can also have bottom-up change. This is when people get together and work collectively to get others, including governments to change. We have seen some of this recently at a higher level with many Boards and members of large organisations demanding that their organisations have no shares in coal production. People working together for our planet can be seen at a national level with organisations like World Wildlife Australia (WWF),  Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), and more recently Australian Parents for Climate Action (ap4ca). In SA we have many groups, like Conservation Council SA, Trees for Life, and even little ones like EESSA Inc. These are the groups that your service and you can join and support to make a better world.
What is sustainability? Considering the four pillars
We use the term sustainability all the time, in fact, our organisation is committed to education for sustainability. Yet what do we mean by sustainability? From a broad perspective sustainability is about preserving a particular initiative or resource. When we are talking about education for sustainability we are talking about sustainable living and lifestyles, living more naturally with a closed loop in relation to the resources we use. There are four distinct areas to sustainability: human, social, economic and environmental - known as the four pillars of sustainability. These four pillars are often focused on more by businesses than education services and many big and small businesses report on their achievements towards these four pillars. However, we all need to keep these in mind. We are all consumers, and all makes choices both in our services and as individuals as to what products we buy. Considering these four pillars is the key to both sustainable procurement for services and everyone consuming wisely.
Sustainable Procurement
Sustainable procurement essentially involves purchasing goods and services based on environmental and social as well as financial aspects. It is about purchasing that goes beyond the up-front costs of making the purchase to determine the whole of life environmental and social costs; or total life cost (TLC). There are many variations associated with different commodities and services.  For example buying local is always best but not always available. An organization with a focus on sustainable procurement is aiming to reduce consumption of resources, minimise the environmental impact of the resources it does require, and support and promote environmentally healthy goods. 
Sustainable procurement should at least be used when purchasing major items like computers, printers and white goods. Suppliers of these products should have environment policies and even carbon reduction reports available for customers.
 What you can do?
All individuals and businesses can start with the following key points.
The first step in sustainable procurement is always to avoid or reduce consumption. Remember the lowest cost option up-front may not be the cheapest over the life of the asset. Have conversations with suppliers to promote sustainable practices, eg. can they reduce their packaging?
Develop a procurement checklist that is used before any new item or services are purchased.
What sort of questions should be in a sustainable procurement checklist?
First check if the purchase /service really needed? Or is there something that can be repurposed? Or does someone in the organisation, educator or family have one you could use?
Then consider the following:
Does the product include post-consumer recycled content? Is the product made from renewable resources? What is the products life expectancy? What are the transported related impacts? Does the product have trusted certification?  Does the company demonstrate transparent ethical policies? Does the supplier have an Environmental Management Plan or environmental policy?
Depending on the product or service you are purchasing you can ask more or less questions and rate the importance of these.
A sustainable procurement checklist that is used by everyone involved in purchasing promotes awareness of the importance and benefits of sustainable procurement across the organization.
It will promote team awareness of sustainable procurement and supports everyone to develop understandings of eco labeling, certification and standards.
Wiser Consumption
I=PAT provides us with a way to understand the Impact of humans and their lifestyle on the environment with a focus on the three major contributors, Population, Affluence (or excessive consumption), and Technology.
Technology provides us with newer and more advanced time saving gadgets every day and the ability to extract minerals and resources from the earth in ever increasing quantities. In the process there is enormous land degradation and pollution. Technology is, however, also a key to reducing our negative impact on earth. Energy and water efficiency, farming techniques that lead to greater yields per hectare, pollution reduction, recycling and closed looped production all involve improved technology.
While population has risen exponentially in the last 40 years, almost 50% of these people live in poverty. The world’s most populated regions use far fewer resources than the wealthiest countries. Population increases are also stabilizing and improving the economy of poorer countries is now seen to reduce their population growth rate. At the same time this is also increasing their consumption and landfill waste.
It is the third contributor, consumption, that is the key.  People today either, live in a consumerist culture or aspire to live this life. This consumption is not to meet our basic needs for food, water and shelter it is largely about wants and our illogical desire for more stuff and our compulsion to spend excessively.
We need to not only consume differently but consume less and manage the earth responsibly for future generations.
Mahatma Ghandi said ‘there is enough for everyone’s need but not enough for everyone’s greed’.
Wiser consumption would greatly reduce our human impact and, if we live simply, we enhance our wellbeing and flourish in body, mind and spirit. 
National Recycling Week 2020
National Recycling Week is 9—15 November 2020.  The theme for this year  ‘Recovery - A future beyond the bin’. This theme asks us to think beyond the bin and consider everything as a resource, even what we may currently consider as waste. What is the value of those resources into the future?
With National Recycling Week in a few weeks we hope you all have some great projects you have started or planned, and that you all learn something that supports your service to make a change that supports sustainability.
You can learn more about what you can do with children, families and fellow educators at: https://recyclingnearyou.com.au/nationalrecyclingweek
Dates and future events for your diary
The Joinery, Franklin St Adelaide has some great events in November:
  • Seed Saving and Propagation, Mon, Nov 16, 5:30 PM
  • Clothes Swap Party, Fri, Nov 20, 5:30 PPM
Or learn to repair rather than replace:
  • Gawler Repair Café Sat Nov 21st at 9.30am
Earth provides enough for everyone’s needs but not everyone’s greed.
The world is not ours, the earth is not ours. It's a treasure we hold in trust for future generations.
Our mailing address is:
Early Education for Sustainability SA Inc
PO Box 297
SEAFORD, SA 5169
Australia

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