Pictured from left to right: Lorna Manter, Ann Smith, Alice Kurauvone (General Manager), Iga Bylok.

The Lifestyle team at Regis Ringwood is made up of three inspirational women: Iga Bylok (manager), Lorna Manter (assistant) and volunteer Ann Smith. Through their love of nature, the women developed notable environmental initiatives which created positive outcomes for the Home, community and planet. In November 2021, Regis acknowledged their work by awarding them the Environmental Leadership award as part of the National Regis Care Awards.

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day on March 8, we thank Iga, Lorna and Ann for showing us that every little bit we do for the environment counts. This is their story.

Our motivation to support a sustainable environment
Climate Change and many related issues such as energy, consumerism, pollution, species decline, and food security are the biggest challenges our children and grandchildren face over the next several decades. Our team felt it was necessary to make a positive contribution in any way for this overwhelmingly important issue. So, we decided to take a two-pronged approach by making our practises as sustainable as possible and raising awareness of sustainability with residents, employees and families.

Outside of work, Lorna turns left over wool into headbands and other objects to raise money for breast cancer research. Ann is a long-standing committee member of Environmental Education in Early Childhood and takes part in the committees’ professional development program and conferences for early childhood educators.

Our initiatives
One of our many initiatives was to use upcycled materials and our catchphrase was ‘we don’t need new materials to be creative’. We also tried to connect residents with the natural world and educate them on the environmental benefits of our program.

We spoke with residents and employees to explain the importance of celebrating Regis’ Sustainability Month and World Earth Day. We also took time to explain the environmental benefits of using our china cups and metal spoons, or why we don’t laminate a notice.

The key approaches to our initiatives have been to limit our use of new materials; celebrate worldwide and Regis-wide environmental days; limit our use of plastic; raise awareness around sustainability with residents, employees and families; and support connections with nature for residents.

Some of our other projects have been a face shield window mural, friendship quilt, cloth gift bag giveaway, Anzac Day badges and wreaths, and our ECO dancing skirts—funds raised from the dancing skirts are donated to charities.

Getting our residents involved
We have found that residents really enjoy getting involved and being able to give back. They enjoy the creative arts and craft, eco sewing experience and upcycled materials. They also like being part of something bigger such as knowing that our group financed a small number of trees to be planted in the Amazon.

The future
Until now, we have been constrained by COVID-19, but soon we hope we can soon do several more bus trips to connect residents with the environment and its trees and birds in the state parks close to the Home. We will also build an insect hotel to bring beneficial insects to our garden—in particular native bees. We also plan to make decoy Cabbage White Butterfly models which we plan to give to gardeners as a way to protect their vegetable patches without having to use chemicals. We have recently had a large amount of fabric donated to us so our eco sewing group fundraising will continue. We will continue to use upcycled materials for our craft activities.

Our message to the Regis Community
It was an unexpected and very pleasant surprise to see that our hard work paid off. As Lifestyle Manager, I am very proud of my team and volunteers. The portion of the prize money from our award will go towards planning an event for residents.

Just doing a little bit for the environment can make a difference! We are planning on continuing our work and making an impact. We hope that we can inspire others to follow our example.