After their success as a finalist in the 2018 NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards, leading Christchurch girls’ school, Rangi Ruru, is headlining yet another sustainability accolade with 16-year old student, Rosetta Brown (Year 12) announced as one of only three finalists in the Keep New Zealand Beautiful Awards.
Finalists in the Young Legends category of the annual awards are young kiwis who have been recognised for their contribution towards envisioning and creating a sustainable future for New Zealand.
Rosetta’s commitment to the environment and encouraging sustainable behaviours is longstanding. She is an integral member of the Rangi Ruru Sustainability Executive, a leader of the school’s Environment Club and an editor of Bloom, a wellbeing journal, that highlights sustainable, healthy habits to help follow students feel good and function well.
Perhaps of greatest significance, however, is the role Rosetta played in establishing source separation of waste at Rangi and the coordination the school’s Reuse Depot over the past two years. Her purpose is simple – to maximise landfill diversion the most effective way possible and encourage a circular system to extend the life of reusable resources, while reducing the ecological impacts of landfilling. These initiatives have allowed Rangi to significantly reduce waste to landfill - by 58% within the school community and 62% within the school’s Boarding community - and helped the school become carbon neutral in 2017.
Each term thousands of items destined for landfill are collected onsite at Rangi and reused. Collections and delivery are overseen by Rosetta and include books, bras, batteries, mobile phones, coffee pods, oral hygiene products, soft plastics, yoghurt pouches, mobile phones, medical braces, egg cartons, milk bottles, clothes, stationery, phone books, paper and craft items.
These initiatives are having impact beyond the Rangi community. Rosetta and her peers on the Sustainability Executive, have built relationships with businesses and community groups. Next year the team plan to meet with groups in the local health sector, to discuss establishing medical collections of single use products, that could be reused by communities in need.
This year, along with the Sustainability Council, Rosetta has also been involved in networking and sharing ideas with other schools, on ways to become more sustainable.
Rosetta’s philosophy is driven by a strong social conscience and sense of care and responsibility, where the health of the planet is prioritised. Manaaki whenua, manaaki tangata, haere whakamua - Care for the land, care for the people, go forward.
Generations of women in her family have reused materials, mended and repaired items and cooked from home grown produce. Carrying on these traditions is important to Rosetta. Rosetta has further walked the talk by producing designs made from reused materials. Her artwork was exhibited as part of the innovative and thought-provoking Whole House Reuse Project at the Christchurch Museum.
“It is important to me that we don’t just talk about sustainable behaviours, but that we get stuck in and make a difference through actions and a collective approach. We all need to consider our role as consumers and think carefully about the life cycle and impact of products we buy. In doing this we can be proactive in disrupting the traditional take-make-waste model,” says Rosetta.
For Principal Dr Sandra Hastie, and Jon Kimber, Head of Student Development and Leadership, Rosetta’s shortlisting comes as no surprise.
“Rangi has long been dedicated to enabling young women to make their mark on the world in terms of creating a more sustainable future. It forms an integral part of our global perspective and is something that all of our girls embrace,” says Dr Hastie.
“Inspiring others through her commitment, drive and passion to help keep New Zealand beautiful, Rosetta is a highly respected servant leader within our community. She is such a passionate advocate for environmental protection and is be the ideal candidate for the Young Legend Award.”
Rosetta will travel to Auckland in October for the Gala Awards Dinner. Whether or not she wins is in the hands of the judges, but for Rosetta, being a finalist in these awards is achievement enough, and only fuels her drive to continue to create a sustainable future.