Melbourne School Bans Bins

The crazy plan is hoped to somehow reduce waste

What you need to know
  • A Melbourne school is removing all rubbish bins
  • The aim is to encourage students to produce less waste
  • Is this plan so crazy it could work?

It’s one of my happiest High School memories – standing in the schoolyard at lunchtime with an empty Salt ‘n’ Vinegar chip packet in my sweaty adolescent hand. I cast my eye across the groups of happy students who were lucky enough to have friends and caught sight of a bin. Using my coolest walk, I made my way towards it, and dropped the chip packet into its murky depths. What a joyous time. I didn’t have a care in the world!

Well, one Melbourne High School is ruining treasured moments like these – all for the sake of the planet!

Melbourne Girls’ College has decided to remove all bins from its classrooms and yards – meaning that any waste the 1400 students produce during the day must be taken with them. The aim is to encourage students to move towards producing no waste at all. It’s sound logic. Remember how hard it was for your parents to get you to clean your room? Or put the bins out? If teenagers (or indeed, anyone) have to carry their rubbish around with them, they’ll naturally try to produce less. I know I wouldn’t have had room for rubbish. My schoolbag was always overflowing with textbooks and angsty love poetry about the Library Assistant – so this plan is so crazy it just might work!

From Monday the school will begin phasing the bins out over five weeks, and they’re not really sure how it will work out. Speaking to The Age, teacher Paula McIntosh perfectly sums up all bold plans when she says, “It might all go to hell in a handbasket. But we’ve got to try”. Although, there is no word from the school on whether handbaskets are exempt from the ban. McIntosh acknowledges that the waste the students take home may end up in landfill anyway, but that the aim of the program is to “get as many people as we can to avoid it”.

As part of the whole scheme, there will also be “non-compulsory” food inspections. Volunteer students will stalk the hallways taking a sneaky peak into lunchboxes. (Note to self – create reality TV show about taking a sneaky peak into lunchboxes. Rake in millions) Students with ‘zero waste’ boxes will receive tokens to go into a draw to win prizes, like keep cups.

This could be yours!

The school wants to encourage parents to buy fewer packaged items, and to reuse containers.

It’s going to a big challenge for the students and teachers at the school, but it’s great to see a school taking bold steps to address their own waste. There’s only one problem that I can see developing. If you can’t throw away that egg and chutney sandwich that Dad made for you – you might actually have to admit to him that you just don’t like it. Sorry Dad!