Wellington East Girls' College helps save the planet, one piece of paper at a time
Wellington East Girls' College has saved 12,000 pieces of waste paper from being confined to the rubbish bin, and that is only the start of the students' environmental journey.
The school has partnered with Misprint Company, founded by some former students, and is collecting all paper that could be used again and sending it off to be turned into notebooks.
Kareena Harris, Jenny Buckler and Priscilla Loong created Misprint as part of a Massey University student project and are now collecting paper from dozens of Wellington sites, including St Mary's College, Flick Electric, Massey University and Creative HQ.
They place large cardboard bins on site to be filled with good-on-one-side, non-confidential paper.
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Once the bins are full, the paper is taken back to their office, sorted and made into notebooks that are sold back to the company, or placed in shops in Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch.
Harris said she never imagined she would be back at her school six years later with her own business.
"It is such a good fit here. Schools produce so much paper and they have come on board really well," she said.
The idea stemmed from noticing recycling bins that were full of almost blank paper, and that most of New Zealand's paper recycling was sent to China, making it not as environmentally friendly as many people thought.
The creation of one A4 piece of paper uses 10 litres of water, so making notebooks out of waste paper seemed like a good idea.
Each bin holds 4000 pieces of paper – that saved 55 per cent of a tree and 45,500 litres of water, and created 350 notebooks, Buckler said.
The girls at Wellington East have already filled three boxes of paper and have monitors in every class who help make sure the paper goes in the right bin.
The school's environment committee has big goals for the school. They are starting with paper and plan to expand to plastic recycling, food composting, eliminating food wrap and disposable coffee cups, and are getting a waste audit done by the Sustainability Trust.
Co-lead student Isla Hutching, 16, said they also had plans to ask the board to incorporate a wind turbine and solar panels into the school's new block, which is currently in the design phase.
"Schools are where lots of young people go to learn, so if we can get them to see when difference they can make here then they will hopefully bring that into the rest of their lives," she said.
Teacher Georgette Lampitt said the school had tried other projects before, but they had stopped because students left the school.
The new committee would help make the school's plan of becoming a more environmentally friendly school a reality.