Think Globally and Act Locally
Hillbrook began with a strong focus on sustainability and it has remained a vital part of our philosophy. It is expressed in our curriculum, outdoor education program and many student environmental groups and initiatives.
The science of climate change has become abundantly clear in the last decade or more, and the moral imperative for decisive action has become even stronger, despite ongoing and often divisive public discourse. The positive impact of renewable energy, waste recycling and other ‘green’ initiatives now seem beyond argument.
However, we often see the politicisation of climate change which, in many cases, has become more about opinion and tribalism, rather than rational and considered debate.
For complex issues, it is a rare thing to have all the relevant knowledge at our fingertips, and it’s even more rare that this information remains unchanged.
As a school and as educators who accept the reality of climate change, we have always valued the importance of rational debate. This approach results in deepening the discourse by providing a broader outlook. When you take a fixed position on something your view narrows to see only what is in your immediate proximity and this can make change much more difficult.
At Hillbrook we consider that climate change caused by humans is an urgent issue, particularly for the generations to follow.
To support this, our community has implemented the following:
- Our Outdoor Education Program has a strong emphasis on students connecting with the environment around them and their impact on it. Every Outdoor Education experience is guided by the motto of “leave no trace”.
- Working towards zero net energy through school-based education programs, the installation of photovoltaic panels and low energy lighting.
- Dedicating the natural environment of Hillbrook to Land for Wildlife.
- Working towards zero waste by using compostable packaging in the Tuckshop and setting up innovative Waste Hubs throughout the school.
- Collecting rainwater for use with toilet systems and irrigation.
- Rehabilitating the creek that runs through the school grounds and into Kedron Brook.
- Participating in the annual Clean Up Australia Day.
- Encouraging active student environmental groups who meet weekly – Environmental Club, Creek Revegetation Group and Green Justice.
- Embedding themes of sustainability throughout the curriculum.
- Publishing weekly articles in the Hillbrook newsletter that highlight ways for more sustainable living. These articles are inspiring many of our families to change everyday habits.
- Hosting Sustainability Day every two years where local community members come together to share their collective knowledge on sustainability.
We are now rapidly reaching our zero net energy target as a school. Our composting and recycling efforts are beginning to have real impact and our landfill is now a fraction of what it was a year ago.
We are continually looking at our supply chains and reviewing our resource use. We hope to begin engaging with the circular economy ideas in 2020 to further our aim of becoming a carbon neutral school.
Now is the time, in the words of a former Board member and Chair, “for Hillbrook to nail our colours to the wall”. While we are doing so much as a community, we need to advocate more widely for the changes we wish to see in the world. If we do nothing in this area, our efforts are diminished.
Some of our students are taking their first steps in this area of advocacy through their participation in our environmental clubs. They will be writing to our politicians, asking what they are doing to combat climate change and what their priorities are.
We encourage all of the Hillbrook community to continue questioning organisations and businesses about what they are doing in regard to recycling their waste, water conservation and energy use policies. Public discussion and voting with our feet will ultimately result in changing business practices.
Advocacy needs to be matched with personal action, the first without the second means nothing.
The upcoming School Strike 4 Climate on 20 September is an important opportunity for those who want to match their individual actions with significant advocacy. Given that we finish school early on the last day of term, staff and students who wish to attend the rally, have the ability to do so.
We encourage everyone to “think globally and act locally” … our future is in our hands.
The School Leadership Team on behalf of Hillbrook