A little kindy in Kerikeri is making headway in the battle against climate change.
Kerikeri Kindergarten recently achieved its goal of becoming carbon neutral after working with Carbon Neutral Kerikeri, a community group set up in 2018 with the aim of making Kerikeri New Zealand's first carbon-neutral town.
Not only has the kindy slashed its use of rubbish by half after introducing measures to increase recycling, it's actually gone into deficit.
Early childhood teacher Scott Hunter is "super proud" of their efforts.
"As an early childhood teacher, I spend my life preparing children for the future. But because of the climate crisis the future's not looking that bright at the moment.
"It's good to come in with your head held high in the morning and think we're not adding to the problem."
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The kindy on Hone Heke Rd achieved its silver Enviroschool status last year and was "looking for the next step" concerning environmental goals.
Inspired by Kerikeri High School students' protests last year as part of global strikes to battle climate change led by youth activist Greta Thunberg, the kindy researched ways to reduce its carbon footprint.
They completed a carbon emissions audit available on Carbon Neutral Kerikeri's website.
The online calculator allows users to work out their emissions and offset them with the level of sequestration, the process of capturing and storing atmospheric carbon dioxide which results from things like trees growing on site.
Staff then discussed how to make improvements with Carbon Neutral Kerikeri founders Rolf Mueller-Glodde and Inge Bremer who visited in November.
"We found the waste was 8-10 times more than all our emissions put together," Hunter said.
"Since then we upped our game. It was just a matter of being a bit more conscious about recycling. We found things that could be recycled and got the kids involved in recycling from their lunchboxes. We've managed to half our waste."
The kindy now has several bins; for landfill, soft plastic and paper. There's also a bin for vegetable food scraps for the worm farm and all other food scraps go into a bucket which is taken home for a staff member's pigs.
Any scrap metal is collected and taken to the scrap metal dealers for recycling.
The latest calculation shows their total emissions are 3778 which, when subtracted from total sequestrations of 5120, gives them a total of minus 1342kg of CO2 per year.
Carbon Neutral Kerikeri founder Inge Bremer said she was "extremely impressed" with the kindy's efforts.
"They had already worked with our carbon calculator and knew exactly how much electricity they were using, compost they produced, and carbon their trees sequestered. They also had numbers of their recycling of paper, cardboard, and landfill.
"They're a shining example of what can be done. The whole staff are so well informed and enthusiastic. It shows a really high commitment to the problems that we're having nowadays."
The charitable Carbon Neutral NZ Trust was founded about two years ago with committees in Kerikeri and Waiheke. Their message is that "saving the climate begins at home".
Hunter said the kindy is now looking at how to switch from disposable nappies for the children.