‘40 little ambassadors for the War on Waste’

‘Mum! We’re using too much plastic!’ pre-schooler Betty announced to her family recently as she shared what she had been learning about the impact of plastic waste on the environment.

Betty is one of the 80+ local children attending the Bronte Early Education Centre, where staff have spent weeks helping a group of 3 and 4 year olds to recycle and piece together their amazing creations from bits of discarded plastic collected from home and the local shops. Childhood educator Shireen Zein says the children are very aware of recycling and how single-use plastic can cause harm to animals, birds and insects.

For the fourth year in a row, the Sculptures in the Garden are on display at the nearby Three Blue Ducks Café. In the past they’ve been made from clay or plasticine but this year the centre’s staff and children wanted to focus on plastic.

‘It’s such a rewarding project for us,’ says the café’s general manager, Mem Hemmings. ‘We think of our role as hosting 40 little ambassadors for the War on Waste!’ (the hit ABC TV show hosted by Craig Reucassel).

As we wandered around the garden admiring the creations - and marvelling at how much fresh food it produces - three of the pre-schoolers’ mums, Leah Morastico, Kelly Broadstock and Amy Sharma, shared their thoughts with us about why they were happy to support the project.

Betty’s mum Leah says: ‘I think the sculptures highlight the importance of educating our children about the consequences or our actions and decisions. The kids keep us accountable if we don’t ourselves.’

Amy, mother of Willow, says it’s important that children are taught at an early age about how damaging plastic can be so that their behaviour becomes engrained.

‘The plastic sculptures is an amazing initiative,’ she says. ‘It’s like the old saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. By teaching kids from a young age about how to avoid plastic the behaviour becomes engrained and we can break the cycle (of use).’

Tilly Broadstock was ‘so proud to show off all her hard work making the sculptures’, says her mum, Kelly.

‘Tilly has a new appreciation for recycling and the impact waste and plastic has on the environment, animals and people.’

Heather Azzopardi, director of Bronte Early Education Centre, also praised her staff for the amount of work that went into making the sculptures.

‘The teachers took on a huge task to engage and involve the children in making the sculptures, and making sure their artwork was treated with respect and integrity,’ she says.