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Rocking the recycling message

Scrapboy and Dirtgirl spreading the Compost Rocks message on the joy of recycled organics
NSW EPA-supported organics recycling multimedia education program, Compost Rocks, is now expanding across the country.

What has an International Emmy-award winning children’s program got to do with recycling organics? Those visiting the Waste 2016 conference may have seen it firsthand.

Dirtgirlworld is the brainchild of the “Head Smartypants” of Mememe Productions Cate McQuillen and her partner Hewey Eustace. A TV series and social media channel, it educates young children in a dynamic way with messages about recycling and looking after the earth, while “getting grubby”.

Last year, Mememe received an NSW EPA Market Development Grant of $303,000 to deliver its “Compost Rocks!” program.

Compost Rocks is designed to inspire communities to use their food scraps to make compost and to aid understanding of its value in healthy food production and in sustaining a healthy planet.

Compost Rocks came about because, Cate says, “Mememe put a flag in the ground that we want to be the key communicators in Australia around helping families and households to get their waste systems right.”

Launched this past April and then shared with the wider waste industry at the Coffs conference, Compost Rocks is supported by ABC TV landscape expert Costa Georgiadis, who plays “Costa the Garden Gnome” in Dirtgirlworld.

The project includes a toolkit for all local councils in NSW to distribute for free through their environmental and sustainability education programs, and a campaign plan to accompany the toolkit. The program is delivered online and includes a brand new series of 10 webisodes –called “Fabisodes” – featuring Dirtgirl, Scrapboy and Costa.

It is then underpinned by “Costas’s Compost Academy” – comprising a wealth of resources to educate families in an entertaining way about how to make compost and use it – and a 12-month Dirtgirlworld-led social media campaign.

Teaching career not wasted

Cate spent the early part of her working life as a musician and performer, and completed a teaching degree

“In 1991, in my mid-20s, Hewey and I moved to rural NSW, converted an old church into a home, played music and grew vegetables,” she remembers.

This is where the seed was planted for the Dirtgirlworld universe.

By observing their neighbours, they witnessed their profound connection with the country. “But there wasn’t a lot of children’s TV content that reflected nature, getting outside and getting grubby,” says Cate.

Inspired, she and Hewey wrote a few songs and created a TV show that “got out of control” – Dirtgirlworld has since been sold in 128 countries and translated into many languages.

To read more see page 38 of Issue 8.

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