1. During the months September – October 2022 the Eastern Regional Council (ERC) conducted a project titled ”School Starter Pack”. This project focused on the concepts of sustainability, recycling, waste reduction and environmental awareness, and was targeted to all Year 1 students attending all schools within the ERC (government, church and private). The 3 localities with no schools also participated by giving the ‘’Starter Pack’’ to the localities Catechism institutions. In total 25 learning institutions (22 schools and 3 Catechisms) benefited from this project, where 1200 Year 1 students across the mentioned learning institutions were given this sustainable stationery set. The stationery set included the following products: jute & cotton pouch, a set of 6 colours, 15cm wooden ruler, wooden sharpener, cardboard pen, recycled wooden pencil, eraser and a sprout pencil in an FSC Certified single card. Since these products were given to young students the ERC created a cartoon character called ”Bertu l-Ballotra”. The Region hired an artist, Steffi Venturi to create this fictitious character with the main reason being to engage the students more and hopefully will be more interested in the products. Bertu l-Ballotra was printed at the back of the jute & cotton pouch and on the cardboard packaging of the colouring set. The Region’s decision to make the character a Ballotra, was because it is an indigenous and extremely rare species in Malta, where most Maltese citizens don’t even know it exists here let alone seen one in the wild, and thus via this character we were able to educate the students about this species and create more awareness. The stationery set given is much more sustainable than the regular stationery sets bought and thus via this project we were able to shed light that there are other more sustainable products on the market which are just as good. The hope is that the parents/guardians see the enthusiasm and excitement of their children and maybe opt to purchase such products in the future. The Sprout Pencil is 100% natural, Non-Toxic, and made of Sustainable & Certified Wood. The concept of the Sprout Pencil is that after it’s use (becomes small) the pencil should not be discarded, instead it should be planted in soil and after a few days fresh plants will sprout. This concept was very special for the students where they learned about recycling in a very fun way. They learned that despite the original use of the pencil is finished you can still get something beneficial in this case plants. Each Sprout Pencil has one type of seed, and we had 10 seeds in total. Via this project the children will also learn gardening practices and how to take care of plants hopefully attracting them closer to nature. The colouring set is sustainable because the pencils are with natural finish thus does not make use of artificial stains or dyes, the Jute & Cotton pouch is also more sustainable because Jute fibre is 100% bio-degradable and recyclable, while cotton as a fibre is plant-based thus it’s better than synthetic fibres. Regarding the wooden ruler and sharpener, they are both FSC certified and are more durable than plastic ones, while the pen is made of a type of cardboard and thus reducing the use of plastic. To distribute these sustainable stationery sets, members from the ERC visited all the schools and Catechisms eligible and delivered a speech about the importance of recycling, sustainability and why these products are better for the environment. Following the speech, the stationery set was given to every student. Some general feedback from this experience is that we were very impressed about how aware the children were about environmental issues. We were also very impressed about the level of participation during the speech so much so that it would be more fitting to call the speech a discussion. In general, the project was appreciated by everyone (students, teachers, parents) and the project’s aims were certainly met.
2. For the Summer and Autumn months the Eastern Regional Council reached an agreement with the Cleansing & Maintenance Division to provide 120 Liter bins for all the feasts and activities held in the Eastern Region.
It is a well known fact that such activities leave a lot of waste discarded irresponsibly on the ground, which is why the Eastern Regional Council felt the need to provide more bins during such activities. The main aim of this collaboration was to reduce as much as possible the amount of waste that is irresponsibly discarded on the ground and thus having cleaner areas during and after such events. This collaboration added additional bins to the ones already present in the locality, and did not take any of the responsibilities of the respective Local Councils.
A total of 306 bins of 120 liters were given out from Friday 3rd June 2022 – Tuesday 1st November 2022 across a total of 17 Regional feasts and activities. The respective Local Councils decided how many 120 liter bins would like to order for the events, with some events requiring a small order of 4 bins while others were provided with 30 bins for a a feast/activity. The bins ordered would be delivered and placed across the locality by the Cleansing and Maintenance Division, with the location of the bins being decided by the Local Council themselves prior to delivery. After the bins were delivered to the agreed locations members from the Local Councils secured the bins via chains to prevent theft. The bins would be rented until the feast/activity is over, where they will be unchained by the council members and collected again by the Cleansing and Maintenance Division. The Cleansing and Maintenance Division would empty the bins every night (around 4 am) so as to make sure they are never filled to the top.
In general this process moved smoothly and in an organised manner, the Localities Mayor’s also praised this initiative and said that they themselves have seen a reduction in the amount of waste littered on the ground irresponsibly during the feasts and activities. Thus it is safe to say that the initiative was a success though there is more work to be done to continue encouraging proper waste disposal during such feasts and events.