At Budawang School students have been recycling with Return and Earn to raise money while learning about sustainability and developing a range of skills.
Teacher Lynette Emery says her Year 7 and 8 science class are studying the environment this year.
"We're exploring how we can help care for our environment and recognising the need to reduce, reuse, recycle," she says.
"We are also exploring the contribution of science to finding solutions to global issues relevant to our lives now and in the future. We decided that we wanted to find sustainable ways to manage and reduce waste."
As a practical way to take action, the class took on running a school-wide recycling program, with students collecting, sorting, and managing the recycling from classrooms and offices around the school. Lynette's class is supported by one of the Year 4 students who has become involved, and Elisha Ward, a Student Learning Support Officer at the school.
As well as separating out cans and bottles so they can be taken to the local Return and Earn reverse vending machine (RVM) each week, the students also collect and recycle soft plastics, paper and cardboard.
"The whole school is very enthusiastic about recycling and thinking about ways we can care for our world, and so everyone willingly contributes to our program," Lynette says.
Lynette says the hands-on recycling has been especially beneficial for some of the students who find it challenging to be engaged for longer periods of time and often need significant assistance to carry out tasks.
"By participating in this program, the boys have increased their interest, engagement and time focused on one task. They have developed independence in carrying out their weekly tasks," she says.
"Their confidence in communicating and asking staff and students for their recycling has improved, and they have had enormous success in getting out into the community and feeding the bottles and containers into the RVM once a week."
Lynette says they have raised $89.30 so far, adding, "Some weeks we have a lot of items to return. Some just one or two. But every bit helps!"
She hopes to use the funds raised to purchase proper recycling bins for their classroom, or for sporting equipment for the playground to encourage students to participate in physical activities during break times.
"We will continue to implement the program this year and hope our good example will encourage others to participate in the program in the future," says Lynette.
Return and Earn recommend checking the status of your nearest return point on our website at www.returnandearn.org.au/return-points before visiting, and avoiding peak times where possible.
Anyone visiting a return point must ensure they comply with the latest Public Health Orders, including checking-in via the QR code displayed, wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing of at least 1.5 metres from others, and practicing good hygiene.