An increasing number of schools are placing greater priority on environmental education & developing an ethos of sustainability.
This is in line with what children & young people want. A recent survey about children & young people’s mental health reported issues that respondents were concerned about. Amongst the most reported concerns was climate change. Show your pupils that as a school, you share their commitment to green causes & work towards becoming a greener school.
April 22nd is Earth Day. This is the perfect opportunity to look at what your school already does to protect the planet & to think about what more you can do.
10 Ways to Be a Greener School
- Foster a culture of recycling
A one-off lesson about what it means to ‘reduce, reuse & recycle’ simply isn’t enough! Pupils need to be immersed in a culture of recycling so that it becomes second nature to think about the impact our everyday decisions have on the environment.
Does your school purchase recycled products, such as paper? Does your school recycle as many waste products as it possibly can? This includes paper, plastics, batteries & food waste. Are there enough recycling bins around school & are pupils fully aware of what can be recycled?
- Teach about the environment, climate change & carbon footprints
Do you cover environmental education through your PSHE (Personal, Social & Health Education) & Citizenship curriculum? Are you able to use the wider curriculum, such as science, geography, art & English to teach about environmental issues? Once pupils have a good understanding of the issues, they will be better placed to make decisions & take actions that positively impact our environment.
- Start an eco-club
An eco-club is a fantastic way to get pupils directly involved in environmental issues & help them to see that they can make a real difference to the planet. Activities that pupils involved can participate in include: initiating eco-habits in everyday school life; fundraising for environmental charities; leading assemblies on environmental issues; running an eco-stall at a school fair; & contributing information to the school website.
- Adopt greener procurement methods
42% of carbon emissions from the schools’ sector come from procurement – the purchasing decisions a school makes. This is almost 1% of total carbon emissions in the UK.
Your school can focus on its own operations in the effort to cut its greenhouse gas emissions. However, it’s just as important to consider the school’s supply chain. Carbon emissions tracking breaks down the ‘carbon cost’ of each item, so you can report (& use data to drive decision making) on carbon emissions in your supply chain.
- Enjoy the great outdoors
Gardening, forest school activities, after school clubs held outside, school trips, & taking curriculum lessons outside where possible helps pupils connect with – & value – their natural surroundings. Think about the ‘green’ areas that can be created in the school grounds. You can even try to bring a bit more of the outdoors inside, by bringing plants into classrooms & corridors.
- Conserve energy
A large part of being an eco-friendly school is cutting down on energy consumption. Staff & students can be reminded to turn off lights & appliances when not in use, via posters. When looking to upgrade appliances, look for the most energy efficient ones, to cut electricity & water costs. It might also be worth looking into switching to LED bulbs as a more energy efficient lighting solution.
- Encourage cutting down on single-use plastics
Do staff & pupils have drinks in plastic bottles? Everyone in the school community can be encouraged to drink from reusable bottles & to use lunchboxes, rather than plastic bags/sandwich bags.
- Encourage walking to school
Does your school or the local community have any schemes to encourage pupils walking to school? Are there facilities at the school to support children or young people who come on bikes or scooters? Schools can consider how to work with parents/carers to make walking or cycling to school a more favourable option.
- Support clothing recycling
Many families really value schools offering pre-loved school uniform items. Pupils often grow so quickly, & clothing items (school clothing or otherwise) can be resold at a very reasonable price to raise a little money for school funds. Equally, pre-loved clothing could be collected in a clothing recycling station, which needn’t take up much room. The clothing can then be donated to a local charity.
- Communicate with the wider school community
Extend support, advice & information about environmental issues, sustainability, & steps we can all take to look after our planet, to the wider community. Involve families in ‘green’ initiatives, which could even be presented as challenges or competitions. Schools could also devote a section of their website & their newsletters to eco-friendly ‘top tips’.
So, you may not be able to turn the entire school around by Earth Day on 22nd April but why not use this day as the perfect excuse to get on board with greener practices? Start small then let your wider school community know what you’re doing. All schools can lead by example when it comes to saving the planet!