It will be a wasteland if we don’t recycle,’ stated a four-year-old child as he carefully searched for the triangle on the bottom of a plastic bottle and sorted it into the recycling bin. ‘It’s got a triangle five, woohoo!’ he exclaimed.

As we near the end of the United Nations Decade for Sustainability 2005–14, it is encouraging to note the marked increase in sustainability initiatives on a local, national and global scale.

Young children around the world are demonstrating awareness of their impact on the environment and ways to minimise it. A five-year-old explained that sustainability means ‘to save the world for later’, yet many adults still grapple with sustainability terms and practices.


The Earth is a natural physical context, that informs and impacts on the belonging, being and becoming of young children. Thinking and acting create journeys of change towards sustainability.

Sustainability and The Early Years Learning Framework Sue Elliott
Sustainability and The Early Years Learning Framework Author: Sue Elliott

Dr Sue Elliott is an Associate Investigator in an ARC funded study with Dr Helen Skouteris Deakin University entitled “Promoting healthy eating, active play and sustainability awareness in early childhood curricula

Three spheres of sustainability
Sustainability is broadly defined as meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs

Designing Sustainability

Making radical changes in a material world

for our children