Humanity: the most intelligent species on the planet, capable of anything, but is governed by its aggression and youth. A species fast in developing, but slow in maturing.
Once a species that cared about its home, its provider, let its ego dominate its decisions. A period of ignorance and neglect has had profound effects across the world. Effects which can be reversed, if nature is given the time to repair the damage.
Remember…We only have one home.
Loreto Normanhurst is committed to being an Ecology-Centred School and, as such, decisions that are made are done so with consideration to the impact on our immediate environment as well as the global one. This commitment is not new for Loreto Normanhurst; the pre-2016 Strategic Plan prioritised planning for the growth and sustainability of Loreto Normanhurst and specifically set out to “examine eco-sustainability in the school’s current footprint.”
As such, we are building on an existing foundation of good practice and decision making that considers the environment. The publication of the Pope’s Encyclical Laudato Si’ in 2015 provided greater impetus to effect change and the Loreto Normanhurst community has really stepped up its game!
“What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up? This question not only concerns the environment in isolation; the issue cannot be approached piecemeal.” (Paragraph 160, Laudato Si’)
As a Catholic educational institution in NSW we are fundamentally guided by the teachings of the Church in all aspects of our operation and by the NSW Curriculum in our programming and lesson planning. As a Loreto school, we are further guided by the Calls of the IBVM. Sustainability as a cross-curricular priority in the NSW Curriculum ensures a sound ecological education in a range of contexts and subject areas. The obvious ones including Stage 3, Integrated Learning, Geography and Science cover the concepts relating to environmental issues, the impacts on the living environment and the strategies to overcome them. In History students examine the impact of industrialisation; TAS students are challenged to consider the source of the materials they use; in English and Drama, environmental issues are used as stimuli or themes; and in Religion, environmental ethics is studied. As the message is further reinforced through Conversation Periods and Tutor/Advisor Conversations, the ecological education of our student body is indeed a shared responsibility.
As Ecology Coordinator, it has been an exciting ride so far as the shift in thinking and culture surrounding ecologically-sound behaviours and decisions sweeps through our community. A year of action, a week of celebration was this year’s theme for Enviroweek this week and is truly fitting for the year we’ve had at Loreto Normanhurst. The fruits of the Green Team’s labour are clearly evident in the significant changes for the better around the school which they have achieved through their dedication to the team, role-modelling, awareness raising, organisation of events and lobbying. Their influence has infiltrated all areas of the school and we have seen the side-lining of balloons and other single use decorations in favour of fabric bunting and reusable paper pom-poms, increased recycling of mobile phones and batteries, the use of metal cutlery in place of disposables in the Boarding School common rooms, reduced printing and laminating, increased use of reusable beverage cups at the café, greater participation in annual events and they have helped instill a real sense that each of us can make a contribution to improving the state of our planet.
Loreto Day 2017 saw the first Sustainability Committee established and these students were challenged with finding creative ways to reduce the impact on our environment without compromising the fun or the funds raised for Loreto Rumbek. They faced a little resistance from other students for ‘breaking with tradition’, but were steadfast in their mission and were very successful at bringing about changes that reduced resources and waste.
My husband asked if I was writing about how I’ve made life for our family harder through the changes to the way things are done at home and how I encourage family members to adopt less wasteful habits. He actually used the verb force, rather than encourage, and this is often how a change that requires more effort, or a removal of choice is perceived! Sadly, living more sustainably is rarely convenient as it takes more planning, requires more time to complete a task, can be a hassle, often costs more, can be dirtier or is simply in the too-hard basket. In the words of my husband, things get easier once they become habit. Changes in the way things are done in an organisation can be met with resistance from members of the community, but here at Loreto Normanhurst the support for environmental initiatives has been met with overwhelming support and more change is afoot as we continue to act on the call of Pope Francis.
Mrs Elizabeth Cranfield