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Sustainability made simple

Never underestimate the planet-saving power of 25 students led by a teacher who is ultra-passionate about sustainability.

The Sustainability Squad at Springfield Central State School was established in 2017 by Design and Technologies Teacher, Helen Desic, to create sustainable measures around the school and inspire students to lead an eco-friendlier lifestyle.

Made up primarily of year five and six students, the squad meets every Wednesday at lunchtime to plan sustainability fundraisers, brainstorm ideas and work on ongoing green projects.

Helen said the Squad started out quite small, with early group members providing sustainability tips and insights at weekly school assemblies. In 2022, the group has a variety of sustainability projects on the go – including native beehives, regular ‘nude food’ days, the OzHarvest Cooking Feast Program and a soon-to-be-installed solar-powered compost garden.

“This year is going to be a really amazing year because we received a Lendlease Junior Landcare grant for a solar-powered composting system that’s going to be installed in our school,” said Helen.

“It’s a six metre by two metre site that’s going to have several beds that will be working with mature compost, and it’ll be building up over time when we compost everything from the student lunchboxes, and waste from the canteen and staff.”

While the Squad might be small, their sustainability efforts are mighty – and the beneficial work they’re doing extends far past the front gates of their school. After all, it’s in their motto - “Don’t forget, stay sustainable. It starts with our squad but doesn’t end with our school!”. 

Through their recent ‘Wear Green for Squad!’ fundraiser, students were able to raise funds for a social enterprise that assists people experiencing homelessness and vulnerable people/families.

They’re also planning an Oval Sleepout later this year, where members of the Squad are sponsored to spend a whole night camping on the school grounds to raise further funds for similar enterprises and organisations.

The Squad also have had the opportunity to go on educational excursions, such as the 2021 Youth Sustainability Summit, and have even presented at an Environmental and Sustainability Committee meeting held by the Ipswich City Council.

While the Sustainability Squad is a big extracurricular commitment, Helen said it’s driven by the passion and determination of the brilliant students who choose to be part of it.

“The squad have always been there, and have always been dedicated to their cause and their unique reason why they’re in the squad,” she said. “I’m just happy to be able to facilitate this group of wonderful students to be able to guide them and for them to give me ideas on what we can do better.”

We asked some of the students some of the reasons why they’ve chosen to be part of the Sustainability Squad, and why they think sustainability in general is so important. Here’s what they said:

“There’s no second chances with nature.”

“I’ll be a sustainable person when I grow up and teach other people to be sustainable.”

“You’ve got to stand up for what you stand on.”

“I’ve learnt how we can recycle and reuse things and teach people to be sustainable in fun ways. We go around on assembly and we always give a tip of the week and collect poppers to reuse them.”

The Lendlease Junior Landcare Grants program was created to support the next generation of environmental and community leaders through fostering relationships with youth, the local community and Indigenous champions to drive greater environmental and social outcomes in the broader Springfield community. Through this program, Lendlease have been able to contribute funding to support Springfield Central State School’s new solar composting system and in 2021 supported the school’s Goondeen Garden project.