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Curriculum & Leadership Journal
An electronic journal for leaders in education
ISSN: 1448-0743
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The Paperwise program in Molesworth, Tasmania

Annie Beecroft
Chloe Luttrell
Chloe Luttrell is Co-ordinator, Molesworth Environment Centre. Annie Beecroft is an Environmental Education Resource Teacher

Paperwise is a highly successful waste minimisation program operating at Molesworth Primary School and Molesworth Environment Centre, Tasmania

Molesworth Primary School is a small, semi-rural school of approximately 120 students from K-6, set in the picturesque Derwent Valley in Tasmania. A special feature of the school is the Molesworth Environment Centre. Each year the Centre hosts approximately 4,000 visiting school students, along with with their teachers and parent helpers.

An important element of the school's culture lies in its connection to the local natural environment, which is used as a tool for learning. In recent years, Molesworth Primary School has employed a whole school focus relating to sustainability. Environmental issues are investigated through the curriculum via the individual class teachers' learning programs, and supported with practical applications through hands on operational programs. For example, the school's waste management program incorporates recycling of food scraps using earthworms, classroom wastepaper reuse and recycling, and maintenance of the community recycling facility. These activities, which aim to foster sustainable behaviours, are managed by the students.

The Paperwise Program

Paperwise, a wastepaper reuse and recycling hands-on waste minimisation program, was established in the school in 2002 as a means to revive awareness about, and to take action on, the need to conserve paper as a resource.

The paper reduction system was designed by a student taskforce in conjunction with the environmental education resource teacher. The system separates paper suitable for reuse from that which can be recycled, and white from coloured paper.

Wastepaper suitable for recycling, i.e. used on both sides, is converted by students to unique handmade paper and other paper products, including books, bookmarks, cards, origami photo albums, and decorative boxes and bowls. Some of these items are sold as part of a student enterprise project or used as thank you gifts for visitors to the school.

All white classroom wastepaper is reused, for example draft writing paper and computer printouts, before it becomes part of the recycling loop. In this way the amount of paper used in the school is reduced. Surplus paper, suitable for recycling, is taken to the regional materials recycling facility, Collex Recyclers.

Outcomes for students of Molesworth Primary have been extremely positive and include:

  • understanding their role with regard to waste generation and reduction
  • acquiring problem solving skills
  • gaining enhanced self esteem
  • expressing and communicating creative ideas
  • understanding principles of enterprise.
From this program, students understand that we need to use resources wisely and dispose of waste in a responsible way. By making recycled paper products and operating the wastepaper minimisation system, students learn about the functioning of systems, and develop skills in problem-solving and evaluation. Students thoroughly enjoy the opportunities to take on responsibility, and have come to recognise that they play a leadership role in promoting sustainable practice, not only within our school but also within the wider community. Through making unique paper products, students have also learned ways to express their creativity and communicate ideas. They have also learnt that there are enterprise opportunities in such value-adding activities.

In 2004, the papermaking activity has been extended by the Co-ordinator of the Environment Centre to include visits by class groups from other schools, via a program entitled Sustainability. Participating classes have the opportunity to make paper, as well as see first-hand how Molesworth Primary School acts to reduce its waste.

Also in 2004, the Molesworth Environment Centre has offered professional development sessions for teachers to demonstrate how these activities, and their underlying understandings, connect to the Essential Learnings curriculum framework, particularly within the host Creating Sustainable Futures. Because of the number of teachers and students who visit the Environment Centre each year, the Centre has a pivotal role in raising awareness of exemplary sustainable practices and engaging participation on a broad scale.

The leadership of Molesworth Primary School and its Environment Centre have been recognised by the inclusion of three of their teachers in a working group to advance the Sustainable Schools program within the Tasmanian education system.

For further information contact the authors or:
The Principal, Mrs. Jill Armstrong, Molesworth Primary School
540 Molesworth Road, Molesworth 7140
Phone: (03) 62 612091
Fax: (03) 62 612664


Subject Headings

Environmental Education
Professional development
School culture
Sustainable development