In 2021, we formed a Sustainability Group at Norfolk Island Central School (NICS). We call ourselves the Enviro-NICS group and we are of a group of students from years 3-12, under the guidance of Caryn Harrington. Caryn had success with a similar sustainability programme at Barrenjoey High School in Avalon, Sydney, and could see that us Norfolk kids were ready to lead by example and create positive changes in our community.
Our aim with Enviro-NICS is to promote a sustainable Norfolk Island environment that can be enjoyed by all future generations. We meet once a fortnight to discuss current environmental issues, and in particular we consider action steps on how to use less plastic, how to reuse plastic and how to best recycle what we must throw away. We educate the rest of the school at assemblies, and we get out into the Norfolk community with various waste-reduction initiatives. Ultimately, we want to help create positive change in our community, spread hope and positive action, and protect this pristine paradise that we are so lucky to call our home.
Unfortunately, plastic is becoming more prevalent in many parts of our lives on Norfolk, though our group is really starting to witness how our actions can create change.
In Term 4 this year, our Enviro-NICS group requested that all school classes watch and reflect on three short films: the Norfolk Wave Campaign, Take 3 for the Sea and Lids for Kids. The response was really positive, with many questions from all ages, and great discussions about how we as a community can improve our practices. As a result of these films, the whole school is now more aware of what happens to their waste on Norfolk, and many are bringing three pieces of rubbish home from each beach trip. As a school we are collecting Lids for Kids, then sorting and washing them so that they can be sent off to Canberra to make prosthetics.
In November this year, as part of Sustainability Week, our group visited the Waste Management Centre where PJ and Phil gave us a tour around the facility. It was a real eye-opener to see all the work that goes into sorting and exporting our waste, and we all left with a greater understanding of how each piece of rubbish leaves a mark on our island and our economy. We’re now working on ways to share what we have learned with the rest of the school.
We were fortunate to have Margaret Kiernan, the founder of Norfolk Island’s Boomerang Bags, come to school to talk to us about the impact their community organisation has had in reducing the use of plastic bags on the island. Margaret spoke of the volunteers who gather on a regular basis to sew reusable bags for the community, and why it continues to be an important cause. On the 21st of November our Enviro-NICS group ran a “Go Green or Go Vintage” mufti day at school, with all donations going to the Boomerang Bags initiative. It was lots of fun, and we raised $347! More Boomerang Bags in circulation on Norfolk Island means less need for plastic bags!
This Sunday the 5th December, Enviro-NICS are running a beach clean up and we want as many hands there as possible! We will meet at Slaughter Bay at 8am, then go onwards to various beaches, collecting the debris as we go. Afterwards, we aim to meet back at school for a debrief and to categorise our waste using the Tangaroa Blue App, which collates ocean-refuse data from all around the world. If you can make it tomorrow, bring a hat, sunscreen, drink bottle and some gloves - we look forward to having you as part of the team!
Our team at Enviro-NICS is growing, and we are constantly brainstorming new ideas and ways to contribute to the sustainability of our environment and community. Please follow our Facebook page, and let us know if you have any great ideas that we can help transform into reality!
Thanks fe us,
The Enviro-NICS team
Elliana Henderson, Year 7 at NICS
“Being part of Enviro-NICS is important to me, as I am able to hear and share ideas on how we are able to save our island. The most important part of this group, to me, is our effort to improve and hopefully bring a stop to the pollution around our home."
Ella Rogers, Year 12 at NICS, School Vice Captain
“Sustainability is an ecosystem, part of a lifestyle or a community that supports itself and its surroundings. Sustainability is so crucial and important to us, as human beings and our quality of life. We cannot maintain our Earth’s ecosystem or continue to run as we do, if more sustainable choices are not made by individuals. Enviro-NICS is important to me as it gives the students at NICS an opportunity to make a difference. The students in Enviro-NICS are so passionate about making a change and we are extremely excited to see how much of a difference we can make by influencing, educating and transforming.“
Caryn Harrington (Evans), Teacher at NICS
“I was fortunate to come home to work at the school in April of this year, and so pleased to be teaching at NICS. I had helped to run a sustainability program at my previous school, and through this I learned that no program can work successfully without the enthusiasm of its members. The environmental momentum on the island is changing and the students involved are enthusiastic and ready to look after our amazing home. I, for one, love their ideas and I am learning a lot through the process too. Ideas, planning and action give all of us a feeling of hope for a brighter future.”