Auckland kindergarten teacher Adam Buckingham has won one of New Zealand’s top environmental awards.

The NZI Sustainable Business Network Awards, which have been running for 10 years, are the pre-eminent and longest-standing sustainability awards in New Zealand.

Adam Buckingham’s “Turning Trash into Treasure for Young Children” won in the Community Impact Category.

Each of the 230 entries has been assessed by a panel of judges for significant environmental benefit, measurable and tangible results, innovation, awareness-raising and going the extra mile.

These awards recognise and celebrate the efforts of businesses, NGOs, Government agencies, social enterprises and individuals that have demonstrated progress in sustainability and are reshaping their business models for a more sustainable future.

Adam Buckingham received the award for his innovative work using solid waste materials for educational purposes, transforming trash into learning experiences to benefit young children.

He presents professional development workshops in New Zealand and overseas, on reusing solid waste materials – ideas on turning trash into treasure. This is the focus of his book “Turning trash into treasure for young children”, it encourages educators to think more imaginatively about the joys of learning and the value of discarded materials. The innovative equipment he designs and makes for young children from solid waste, uses materials from the home environment and the wider world, to inspire and enrich young children’s learning through manipulating and exploring real world objects. His work has diverted waste from landfill and linked people from the wider community to the early childhood environment, knowing that they are contributing their solid waste to be transformed into something useful.

“We need to encourage children to connect with the natural world and to nurture skills and attitudes at an early age that promote the development of environmentally responsible adults” Adam Buckingham said. “Their young minds are so full of imagination and possibilities and with their help we can move forward on an improved path to environmental sustainability.”