Woodleigh's War On Waste!



I’d like to give a Shout-Out to Maks (Year 12) and Francesca (Year 11) for offering some much needed leadership in Woodleigh’s War on Waste. When one thinks of leadership, it’s easy to think of the charismatic individual in the spotlight. However, leadership doesn’t always have that glamour. Sometimes leadership is standing up to be counted and saying things that are unpopular. That is the kind of leadership that takes guts. That’s the kind of leadership we’re seeing right now from these young people.

Lit from inside, with the fire burning, our new Homesteads look inviting and welcoming. The opposite is true of the lost property box. It’s uninviting, in the freezing breezeway – and the lid is lethal. Getting students to care about its contents is a thankless task. People like clean clothes; better still, new clothes and easy access. So pulling out all that unwanted gear, weighing it and then getting people to care about the horrific cost that this degree of careless neglect has on the environment is not a popular task.

Maks and Francesca have taken on this thankless task. It’s thanks to them that I know Woodleigh creates about a tonne of this ‘waste’ every year. It takes 10 000 litres of water to create 1kg of cotton (that’s from the CommonObjective website. I thought I’d cite my source because quite frankly it’s unbelievable) and that’s before dying and manufacturing. I’d need Christina Brown to work out how much water we used on the clothes we throw away! And, those clothes have probably travelled 1000s of kms (that information is from the World Economic Forum!) and if they are petrochemical based synthetics they will not break down in our life time. Or our great great grandchildren’s. Add to that the wages paid to the garment makers can be as low as $2.53 an hour ( and you start to see the true grimness of our lost property bin with its tonne of textiles. It represents us at our worst. Not something we want to be reminded about – ever!

All that ‘waste’ used to end up in land fill, but Maks and Francesca are set to change that. They are running an awareness campaign, forcing us to face up to the damage we are doing to the earth and its inhabitants for nothing. We’re not even using the textiles. They’ve inspired the staff of Woodleigh to wash and dry and iron all the lost property gathered so far this year (approximately 300 kg in one semester) and they’re going to show it to the school and offer us the chance to see those clothes as an opportunity to live our ideals, instead of the Kardashians’!

Apart from anything else, these clothes are in amazing condition. I washed over 70 hoodies as well as numerous other garments – and I only did part of the pile! I only found five garments that I thought were not in good condition… turns out it was only three. Amy White very kindly pointed out that the rips in the ones I discarded were intentional. It made them fashionable – who knew! I worked out that if each hoodie cost $100 then I had $7000 on my clothes line that weekend! Remember, that was just part of the pile.

We’ve had our influenza injections, can we prevent affluenza this season? Surely we don’t want to be that rich and that arrogant!

I’m Shouting Out to Maks and Francesca, I wish them all the best with their leadership. I think we need it. I’ll be supporting their initiatives in reducing the waste in our school. I might be an early follower, but I won’t be the only one. 


Helen Billett
English Faculty