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Kids tune into sustainability message

More than 380 students from 29 schools in Southern Tasmania learnt new ways to live sustainably and shared their own ideas at the inaugural Australian Sustainable Schools Initiative Kids 4 Kids Conference held in Hobart this week.

Supported by DPIPWE’s Environment Division, Parks and Wildlife Service and Save the Tasmanian Devil program, the Hobart conference featured a keynote address by internationally acclaimed environmental artist Chris Jordan who led students in the creation of a mega recycled art installation.

Jordan is a strong advocate for sustainable consumption, reducing waste and championing a better future.

He says his message is simple and there is no need to "dumb it down" for children.

He encourages self awareness and a philosophy that all individual behaviour matters. Applying it to the sustainability equation, he says that while recycling is important, it should be part of a wider behaviour that embraces a range of related activities.

"There is always more to do," Jordan says. "And that applies to everyone including the highest level activist."

Today’s conference in Hobart and another event at Port Sorell on Friday for north and north west schools, are being held in conjunction with National Recycling Week.

Activities included a Big Swap event with attendees exchanging good quality items that they no longer need for new treasures.

Students are also running workshops for their peers, passing on the knowledge they have gained through sustainability curriculum in their schools.

A marine debris activity hosted by Annie Beecroft and Maree Bakker from the Environment Division attracted enthusiastic youngsters at the Derwent Entertainment Centre.

With the help of Bruny Island resident Barbara Whitebear, who had brought a trailer-load of abandoned fishing equipment and other marine waste washed up on her local beach, the children sorted and researched the source of the trash.

According to Jenny Dudgeon, project officer for the AuSSI-Tas program, 79 government, independent and Catholic schools around the State are involved and another three are completing school environmental management plans in order to join.

Jenny says the AuSSI program improves the school's own management of its resources and grounds, including energy, waste, water, biodiversity, landscape design, products and materials.

Students learn how to save water and energy, reduce waste and grow food in their school kitchen gardens and take their skills home to their families.

For more information about the AuSSI initiative, go to www.sustainableschools.tas.edu.au