Upping The Stakes - Think Green!
We have always tried our best at ADO to be ethical and kind to the environment and encourage, staff, children and young people, as service users, to do the same. With the recent world focus on the harm that plastics can do to our environment and that global warming is not a myth and is a scientifically proven process currently in progress, our senior managers have been looking at ways we can improve even further our own ethical take on the situation. We think that you can always do more and we want to up the stakes when we Think Green!.
Senior Manager, Kate O'Brien, has been in particular very active in this area and has recently compiled a report on how ADO tackle the day to day issues of waste, recycling and re-using our consumables across the teams and departments. As we are moving into a new decade next month, its time to reflect on our progress and here are some great examples of the additional changes we have made during 2019.
Wet (Baby) Wipes
One example we took action on during 2019 was our use of wet wipes.
Baby and wet wipes cause a huge impact on the environment. Eleven billion wet wipes are used each year!
Flushed wipes can block waste pipes and sewers. This causes ‘fatbergs’, which are collections of waste materials, oils and fats. Removing fatbergs costs £100 million each year! The clogs from fatbergs can cause sewage systems to overflow and that can cause other waste and plastics to spill into waterways, rivers and seas. The wipes can affect the flow of rivers as they clump together on the riverbed. The additional waste can also put marine life at risk.
Some wipes claim to be flushable and they should contain biodegradable cellulose. However, some flushable wipes do not meet standardised tests and still contribute to issues when flushed. The only wipes which should be put in the toilet are the ones displaying the ‘Fine to Flush’ logo. Wipes which can’t be flushed are typically made from synthetic substances, such as plastic or polyester. Those which are thrown in the bin end up in the landfill and can take up to 100 years to biodegrade!
With all this in mind, we have changed the baby wipes ADO use to ‘Mum & You’, which are 100% biodegradable, 98% water, 0% plastic, 99.5% naturally derived and are fragrance free. We dispose of wipes in the bin as they biodegrade more quickly than standard wipes. As we require our parent-carers to provide wipes for their own children, we hope that some of them may be able to make this switch too, either to the wipes we now use or to other environmentally friendly wipes.
Eliminating plastics has also been high on our hitlist of improvements.
At the ADO Mini Explorers Preschool, there is plenty of mud on a typical day! Muddy puddles, mud art, mud pies, which is all educational fun! However, it also means that staff have to be vigilant with hand washing, especially before meals. We were previously using bottles of liquid soap, however, due to the high volume required, we were getting through many individual bottles! We then changed to buying in a larger bottle and filling individual bottles – which although it cut down the amount of individual plastic bottles required, there was still far too much plastic for our liking! Therefore, we have switched to using good old fashioned bars of soap, which are delivered wrapped in card, which has hugely reduced the plastic use at the preschool. Similarly at the Outdoor Healthcare and Education setting we now have 'Soap On A Rope' at all our outdoor hand washing stations.
We do require a use of a dishwasher at the preschool to keep up with the amount of washing from the meals each day. We have reduced the amount we use the dishwasher and utilise the eco wash to reduce the impact on the environment. Some dishwasher tablets come in a cardboard box and each tablet is individually wrapped in plastic! We now try to source cleaning tablets which do not have this additional plastic wrapping to those where the wrapping dissolves in the water through the wash cycles.
Our Mini Explorers benefit from the Nursery Milk Scheme, where we have fresh whole milk delivered each week for our children to enjoy. The milk was arriving in plastic bottles, which our staff were always conscious of recycling. After discussions with the suppliers, they have switched us over and our milk now arrives in glass bottles, which are taken back to the distributor, cleaned and re-used! We are thrilled by this as it hugely reduces the amount of plastic at the preschool each week.
Waste and Composting
Its surprising to realise what a huge amount of waste a business can accumulate in just one week. At ADO we have always been an advocate of the reduce, reuse and recycle mantra.
We of course hire our own waste and recycling bins at each centre and are legally bound by a 'Duty of Care' to dispose of our waste and recycling carefully and ethically.
We take this one step further though and through an intricate system of composting areas, manage to naturally compost many types of waste to reuse back into the land. The Outdoor Education and Therapy Centre currently has 12 large composting bays in various places, each bay large enough for a capacity of 1 tonne of composting material. The main section consists of seven consecutive bays that are filled with different grades of compost each at different stages of the composting process. The first bay is a large double bay in which everyday animal waste, animal food and dirty animal enclosure bedding (straw or pellets) is added with green and brown waste from the land and gardens, shredded paper or small pieces of cardboard, leaves and anything else that will degrade naurally to add to the mix. When that bin is full the contents are moved into the next double bay to continue their composting process. The action of moving the compost invigorates the oxygen content, which aids the process causing hot temperatures to speed the whole process up. As the bins compost, the contents shrink in size and by the time they reach Bay 7, the compost has turned into beautiful rich soil high in nutrients and ready for the extensive land, gardens and growing areas on the site.
We also have composting areas at our preschool site, so that the children learn how to recycle.
Our staff have been more conscious in making small changes as well, all of which help reduce the impact on our environment.
Staff ensure they use bags for life instead of single use plastic bags. They use refillable drink bottles instead of single use plastic bottles. They use their own reusable coffee cups when getting a takeaway coffee. Some of our staff have even switched over to using shampoo and conditioner bars, which smell gorgeous and reduces the amount of bottles thrown away each year. Some shops now offer water in a tin, instead of plastic!
We have two of our staff members who are investing in a bee keeping course next spring as another fantastic addition to support conservation and provide safe spaces for invertebrates.
Our planet is amazing and precious. Think about how much our planet gives us – water, air, warmth, food. Life. Our planet looks after us, so surely we should look after it too. We hope you will join us in making changes and taking steps towards a greener future. We have several conservation walls situated at our settings including our Mini Explorers Preschool, and our Outdoor Healthcare and Education site. The walls have been created with support from the Recycling team at Bexley Council, who have directly helped our students to create the displays have been made of disposed plastic to help raise awareness. The preschool wall focuses on saving our oceans/loving our world and the Alternative Provision display is focused around saving our Rivers. Here are some ways we are thinking green at ADO:
For more supportive ideas on how to reduce plastic in your home, we strongly advise you to watch the War on Plastic documentaries on BBC1 iPlayer.