The reception desk is made from recycled Wellington boots. Solar panels straddle the roof. The toilets are flushed with rainwater and light streams in through windows made from reused glass. Newport's beacon recycling centre is taking the Welsh Assembly's commitment to education for sustainability to new heights.
Busy planning the centre's new education zone, due to open in September, Newport Wastesavers' education officer Carole Fereday pauses to explain that the building alone has inspired a multitude of exciting science lessons. The recycled hardcore, concrete and carpeting, 21st-century insulation techniques, lead-free paint and use of local Welsh floor slates offers children a glimpse of an ideal sustainable future.
In the new education facilities, the children will gain insight into the way some of our planet's most important resources are being conserved in their city. The schools programme will cover the whole curriculum but focuses on science, geography, citizenship and PSHE. It will include discussion and exploration sessions, games and working models, resource packs and examples of recycled items - from garden furniture made from old plastic bottles to pencil cases made from tyres.
The venture builds on a wealth of activity that has been going on in Newport for some time. All schools in the city already play a part in the recycling campaign, collecting paper, cans and plastic bottles. Many have taken their activities further with major curriculum and community projects as the dangers of global warming, decreasing natural resources and an increasing need for landfill sites become apparent.
"Our children are really fired up about recycling," says Jill Richards, head of Pillgwenlly primary school. "They were delighted to learn that Newport recycles 25 per cent of all its waste. And they want to increase that figure. They don't want to disappear under piles of rubbish."
After taking part in the paper recycling project for the past three years, Jill decided to capitalise on the children's enthusiasm and extend their work into the community. "The children worked with Newport Wastesavers to gain information about the benefits of recycling and then launched a poster campaign reinforcing the importance of recycling in their community. Three of the posters will be professionally produced and distributed throughout the city."
This approach underlines the city-wide approach to sustainability - it isn't just schools that are involved in this initiative operated by Newport Wastesavers working in partnership with the city council. "By promoting recycling across Newport," says Carole Fereday, "we are drastically reducing the amount of landfill waste, cutting rubbish disposal costs and protecting the world's supply of precious finite resources." Offices, shops, homes and factories are all joining the children in the message:
"Peidiwch a'l daflu i ffwrdd" (Don't throw it away).
Ms Fereday explains: "We have called this the Cleanstream Resource Centre because our collection system is a clean operation. Recycling doesn't have to be smelly and dirty. Householders are encouraged to put clean items into their recycling boxes - paper and textiles into one, glass bottles, jars, drinks cans, food tins, foil and plastic bottles into another. The items are further sorted at the kerbside as they are loaded into the collection vans, so that when they arrive at the centre, they can go straight into the designated crushing or bundling machines."
Garden refuse is collected, too, and made into compost for the city's gardens, parks and sports pitches. Wastesavers also collects and repairs unwanted furniture which is then sold in community furniture shops. Next on the agenda is a collection and repair service for household electrical goods. "Those we can't repair and sell on, we will strip down so that all possible components can be recycled," says Ms Fereday.
The centre's training manager, Peter Clissold, stressed the importance of working with, and for, the local community. "Engaging with our city community is the key to success. Citizenship is an important part of what we do. As well as class-based projects, we work with schools, providing work placements and training for disaffected youngsters - either in the recycling plant, in the repair department or as sales assistants in the community shop."
Clare Williams, who runs Pembrokeshire's Sustainable Schools Award, also believes that sustainable development cannot be seen in isolation from local and global citizenship. Fifty-three schools in Pembrokeshire are involved in the awards. The scheme's framework comprises eight classroom topics - from energy, water, transport and biodiversity to healthy living, community citizenship, global citizenship and waste and litter reduction.
Pupils at the award-winning Tavernspite CP primary school, Whitland, were keen to join in and have come up with a novel, and artistic, answer to all their waste and unwanted items.The results are evident all over the school.
Class teacher Julie Houghton told how the children decided to decorate their new playground and school gardens with recycled materials.
At Christmas, willow trees were shaped into snowmen, penguins and robins and woven with appropriate coloured plastic bags. Lemonade bottles were cut into spirals and painted with glass paint for tree decorations. Musical instruments have been created from items such as colanders, copper pipes and spoons, and children in the infant classes have made puppets out of plastic bottles, newspaper and tissue paper.
At Stepaside primary, Narberth, the winner of a Bronze award, the emphasis was on global citizenship - and teachers Sally White and Kate Chandler-Hall took the idea literally. With 17 other teachers they travelled to Botswana to explore issues such as health, waste, water, and trade to gather material for a primary school resource pack on comparative education. The Popagano (meaning "unity" in Setswana, the language of Botswana) Pack, has been so well received by Pembrokeshire teachers that there is a move to make it available throughout Wales.
"Education for sustainability is important and goes right across the curriculum," explains Sally White. "We wanted to extend our work by linking with a school in another country so that the children could study differences and similarities, needs and wants, lifestyles and predictions for the future." The award scheme is also keen to link the curriculum with sustainable management of the school. "Pupils receive confusing messages if schools do not practise what they preach," Ms White says.
The Cleanstream Resource Centre, Esperanto Way, Newport, NP19 0RD.
Education officer: Carole Fereday, tel: 01633 281281; www.newport.gov.ukrecyclefornewportPembrokeshire's Sustainable Schools Award Scheme. Sustainable development co-ordinator: Clare Williams; tel: 01437 764551; email firstname.lastname@example.org; www.pembrokeshire.gov.ukeducationCyfanfyd, The Temple of Peace, Cathays Park, Cardiff, CF10 3AP. Contact: Liz Thomas, tel: 02920 668999.
WALES EDUCATION 2005 ADDYSG CYMRU
Clare Williams will speak about Pembrokeshire's Sustainable Schools' Award on Friday, May 27 at noon, as part of a two-session seminar sponsored by Cyfanfyd, a national membership organisation promoting education for global citizenship and sustainable development in Wales. The second session will be led by Amnesty International and Save the Children at 1.30pm. A seminar on Resourcing Education for Sustainable Development will be held on Thursday, May 26 at 12.30pm.