Isabel Lyttle, 9, Brodie Seelen, 10 and Zeeta Anderson, 9, were part of Tahunanui School’s Enviro Schools group, which came up with the idea of removing their rubbish bins. Photo: Phillip Rollo.

School bins rubbish bins


It seems an ironic way of reducing litter, but Tahunanui School plans to remove all of their rubbish bins in the coming weeks – a move it hopes will not only clean up the school, but encourage parents to think twice about what they put in their child’s lunchboxes.

Tahunanui School isn’t the first to try this method – Waimea Intermediate School has already been doing it for about four years – but its Enviro Schools leader, Heidi Newland, says the amount of uneaten school lunches that have been thrown out is a “concern”, and they hope this idea will help prevent that. “It’s like sandwiches in glad wrap, uneaten yoghurt, and uneaten muesli bars, it’s ridiculous,” she explains. “Now the children can’t throw away their food. If they don’t eat it they have to take it home and their parents will be aware of what’s being eaten, and what’s not.”

Tahunanui’s Enviro Schools – which is a group of Year 5 and 6 students – came up with the idea and the school will officially put it into practice from March 17. “This is what the kids were mainly worried about. There is just so much waste and so much packaging.”

Students will now be able to put their fruit and vegetable leftovers in a food scraps bin while paper and plastic is recycled. Everything else will be taken home. “The school already does quite a bit of recycling. We’ve already got a compost bin and a food scraps bin.”

When asked how a parent might react when their child brings home a messy yoghurt container, Heidi says “maybe they won’t give their kid yoghurt and maybe they will keep it for pudding”.

She says there had been zero feedback from parents, but there hadn’t actually been a forum which enabled them to do so. That was likely to be held next term.

What Tahunanui School hoped to achieve from this was “zero waste” and Heidi believed it would enable students to think more about what is in their lunch box too, as she knew of one child that turned up to school with just a large packet of potato chips.

Waimea Intermediate School teacher Todd Mcauley praised Tahunanui School for their decision. “I think it’s great that Tahuna are doing that. They hopefully will have a lot of success, because they’ll have their kids from five years old right through. We have to establish that every year because we always have new Year 7s coming through,” he says.

Tahunanui is also looking for donations of ice cream containers, hummus containers, or “anything children could use as an alternative” to store their lunches in.