Rare species of BUGS thriving amid the climate crisis
Author: Sam Carey
Sometimes at Planet Ark, we can get overwhelmed by all the negative things happening to our environment, even when our job and the organisation’s reason for being is to stay positive. In these times of doubt, when we hear amazing, inspirational stories like the BUGS (Blakehurst United Green Society) group at Mater Dei Catholic Primary School, our hope is lifted. It’s important to be reminded of just how many great humans there are working hard to protect our environment.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with Year 6 BUGS representatives Dean, Gia, Alyssa-Elle and Sam to find out more about this fantastic group of young environmental advocates.
If this isn’t the greatest thing you’ll read today then you're a tough crowd. Enjoy!
Why was BUGS created?
The main reason for starting BUGS was because there was so much rubbish in the playground and the bins were overflowing. We wanted to make a change for the environment.
Why do the BUGS want to create change for our environment?
We want to save the environment for [the] next generation because there is no other planet.
How many BUGS are there?
There are 28 BUGS in total, two representatives from each class, plus lots more on the waitlist [that] hope to get in next year’s group.
All of the BUGS!
Who started BUGS?
A teacher who has since left the school got BUGS up and running, but Miss Clay and Miss Burg now run it. (Although according to Miss Clay, the students will chase her up if they don’t ensure the group meets every fortnight. Take that for managing up!)
Can you explain what nature and the environment means to you?
Dean: Lots of green, a beautiful land, and it’s really cool and interesting too.
Gia: We need to take care of it because we only have one environment. We need to make sure the animals are surviving because we need them too.
Alyssa-Elle: You can find something new in the environment every day. We need to keep it and make more sustainable things to help it.
Sam: A beautiful landscape. Nature helps us to live and if we didn’t have the environment we couldn’t live. The nature around us is green and luscious and if we didn’t have the environment our Earth would be nothing.
Here are some of the things the BUGS group and their school do to protect our environment (they’re happy for other schools to steal these ideas!):
- Rubbish Warriors: The BUGS have a rotating roster of cape-wearing Rubbish Warrior students. The warriors go around the playground picking up rubbish and get other students to assist. They also elect students who are doing good things for the environment for awards.
- Waste Free Lunch Wednesday:
- All food such as salads, soups, fruit and pasta to be in reusable containers
- No plastic wrapped food is allowed
- Some parents buy bulk chips to put in lunchboxes
- Prizes for students who have great participation rates!
- Environmental days: The BUGS encourage the rest of the school to participate in environmental days like Clean Up Australia Day and Earth Hour. For Earth Hour, the school turned off all power for 45 minutes after lunch, including lights, TVs and computers, and used the time to draw, play boardgames or do worksheets.
- Plastic straw ban: Last year a group of Mater Dei students took a stand against single-use plastic straws and banned them altogether. AH-mazing!
- School veggie garden: Year One teacher, Mrs Haslam has created the school veggie garden and many students help take care of it by watering and tending to the veggies. They then get to eat the delicious, organic produce which includes carrots, parsley and basil.
- Sustainable Environment Project: The students were tasked to present to the teachers on how to create a more sustainable environment in terms of agriculture, including:
- Improving food without using pesticides
- Water-saving devices
- Water tank for the garden and the toilets
What should people focus on doing to help the environment?
- Planting trees and only using trees when we really need them.
- Eat nose-to-tail: using every bit of the animal and even eating fish eyeballs!
- If no one else can eat them, give leftovers to [your] dog.
- Focus on minimising rubbish, especially near the ocean.
Are there any last words from the BUGS to the people of Australia?
We think that we need to spread the word to people who don’t have the education or do not care about the amazing environment. We only have one Earth but millions of generations to come, meaning that we need to change our actions fast before it’s too late. Little things like littering can have such a terrible effect [on] our environment and to other animals. That’s why we have the BUGS and other citizens who are enthusiastic about helping the environment change in a good way!
Does your school have a sustainability group like the BUGS that could bring more inspiration to the table? We’d love to hear from you.
Rubbish Warriors on playground duty and more students participating in Clean Up Australia Day