login | contact us

Newsletter Articles RSS logo

Why the Global Climate Strike is happening

Georgina Black   Wed 11 Sep 2019

“Our house is on fire”

These words, spoken at the 2019 World Economic Forum by internationally known, teenage environmentalist, Greta Thunberg, encapsulate the urgency required in the battle against Climate Breakdown. This summer alone we have experienced some of the most extreme weather conditions on record, not just in Northern Ireland, but globally. In the Netherlands, it has been reported that there was a nearly 14% increase in deaths during the week of the heat wave in which the highest temperature ever for the Netherlands was recorded at about 400C. This record temperature was not a standalone occurrence as the heatwave swept across Europe. The Arctic Circle has been facing unprecedented wildfires and the Amazon Rainforest, the ‘lungs of the Earth’, have been set on fire to satisfy political and corporate greed that overconsumption drives.

We can no longer speak of Climate Change. This is a Climate Crisis.

Since Greta first began striking in August last year, young people have felt increasingly empowered to take similar action to raise awareness surrounding climate breakdown and demand climate justice. There have been a series of youth strikes and protests since, and several international youth environmental conservation organisations have been established to organise this mass citizen action. Such organisations include Fridays for Future, Youth Strike4Climate, and the UK Student Climate Network.

These organizations and their members recognize that while they did not cause climate breakdown, it is a burden they will have to bear unless immediate, systematic changes are made. The strikes and protests that have been occurring more frequently and on an international level, are a direct result of the climate crisis the world is facing.

However, this is not just a battle for young people to fight, this is multigenerational struggle and everyone needs to get involved in some way. It is for this reason that Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful (the organisation that runs the Northern Irish Eco-Schools programme) has announced that it will be supporting the Youth Strike for Climate Change on the 20th September 2019. Locally, we are adding our voices to the growing number of people who are demanding more concerted action on protecting our environment.

Beyond anything else, the Global Climate Strike is a call to action. Here at Eco-Schools Northern Ireland, we believe that action is the best response to climate breakdown. That is why we have renamed our Climate Change topic to Climate Action – action generates hope and creates positive change. We want pupils to engage with the practical solutions to the problems we face and how they can work to tackle climate breakdown. The Eco-Schools programme, and especially the Green Flag Award, is a pupil lead initiative that empowers young people to make positive environmental changes in their schools and communities which is why, as an organisation, we are lending our support to them on this global day of action. We would encourage you to support any pupils who may independently wish to join the Global Climate Strike.

Speaking about supporting the strike, Chief Executive of Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, Ian Humphreys, said;

“I want to commend those people, young and old, who are peacefully yet powerfully challenging us all to make a real difference on these undeniable issues. It is for those reasons and a belief that change is always possible that I am delighted to lend our organisations support to this day of action.”

“The Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs is launching a consultation for the 25-year environmental plan this month. I would urge every person taking part in this strike to make their voices heard and ensure that we get a massive response to this consultation and a plan that can actually deliver better outcomes for our environment.”

We still have time to act, but we must act now.

Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE)

Georgina Black   Thu 22 Aug 2019   updated: Mon 02 Sep 2019

Have you ever thought about the journey of plastics from its provenance to the sea when you collect litter along the beach or you find a plastic bag floating beside you while swimming?

One of the biggest issues in Northern Ireland and UK it is the amount of packaging still found on the counter in our supermarkets and shops. If we can tackle plastic at its source, we can contribute to reduce this problem. What can we do? To start:

• REFUSE - look out for products that have no packaging and bring your reusable bag

• REDUCE - buy less

• RECYCLE – learn how much packaging is recyclable and how to dispose of it correctly

We want to hear your thoughts on tackling plastic packaging and therefore we are inviting 25 Post-Primary Schools to express their ideas by taking part in this year Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE), working on video-reportage, photo campaign, or written article about “Packaging and land-originated plastic pollution”.

See last year’s winners of the International YRE Competition in the Photo Category, Max and Josh Kamalarajah, who won for two years in a row.

Taking part in the competition will help you to build new skills, boost your confidence and support you and your school towards your Green Flag Award, while doing something active to protect the environment and to increase awareness about important topics, such as climate breakdown and plastic pollution.

Do not miss the opportunity to make your voice heard and collaborate with other young people abroad by registering with us!

Please get in touch with Francesca to express your interest as soon as possible. Places are limited.

Please choose at least three lesson plans among the ones suggested below, and let us know your choice when you send back your registration form.

Waste Management

Before you begin

15-18 Years – Household Waste Survey


Before you Begin

11-14 Years – Litter…why does it matter?

15-18 Years – Litter Blitz


Before you Begin

11-14 Years – Purpose of Packaging

13-16 Years – Smart Shopping Choices

15-18 Years – Finding Solutions

Sustainable Consumption

Before you begin

15-18 Years – I am a Consumer

Sustainability and Waste

Before you Begin

15-18 Years – Celebrate your local festival in an environmentally friendly way

15-18 Years - Culture Waste

Learning to be an Environmental Journalist

Before you begin

15-18 Years - Writing an Article

15-18 years – International Trade in Waste

15-18 Years – Photographs tell a Story

15-18 Using Video to Communicate

Reducing your schools Carbon Footprint

Georgina Black   Thu 22 Aug 2019

There is a growing urgency within all organisations to cultivate the highest environmental standards. With this in mind, we would like to take this opportunity to remind Eco-Schools, especially those who hold current Green Flags, of our responsibilities in the fight against Climate Breakdown.

We are tightening our regulations within Eco-Schools to reflect the seriousness of the newly announced Climate Emergency. It is only by changing our mind-sets and working together with the same unified goals, that we will make strides at a local level, that will have a global impact.

With this in mind we would like to introduce these new Eco-Schools policies:

• Schools should reduce and, where possible, eliminate, Single use Plastics in favour of reusable carriers even during school trips and outside school events (make your Plastic Promise)

• Balloon releases will result in a warning. If a second offense occurs, a school holding a Green Flag will have their award revoked

• Glitter and balloons should be banned on school grounds

• There should be no stipulation for new stationary every school year and we would highly encourage uniform swaps from year to year where possible

But it’s not all about what you can’t do but more importantly about what you can do!

Some Positive Environmental Steps to reduce your school’s Carbon Footprint

• Swap and hand down uniforms in acceptable condition

• Re-purpose lost property items

• Use Eco-Friendly glitter and paper straws

• Reduce your internet carbon footprint by using search engines such as Ecosia

• Raise awareness of your school’s great work using the #TacklingPlasticNI and #liveherelovehere hashtag on any social media posts

• Write letters to local governments and MPs, boycott items and companies that are unsustainable, and petition for better environmental laws

• Turn off lights and other electrical appliances when not in use

• Make your schools Plastic Promise

• Get involved in the Eco-Schools programme including our projects, events and competitions!

This list is by no means definitive and we would greatly encourage you to share your eco-successes with us so we can work to inspire others to join in with your amazing work. Together we can and will tackle Climate Breakdown and create a cleaner, greener Northern Ireland. The best time to act on Climate Breakdown was 10 years ago, the second best time is now.

Practicing what we preach

Within our office at Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, we have decided to take targeted action to reduce our Carbon Footprint. With this in mind we have developed the following policies:

• Once our current supplies of Eco-Schools merchandise have been used up, we will no longer be providing 'goodie bags' after a Green Flag has been awarded (this will not include the Green Flag itself which will continue to be awarded to schools to be displayed on school grounds – it’s something to be celebrated after all!)

• All staff have made their own Plastic Promise in an effort to reduce the use of Single Use Plastics

• Minimize use of private transport using public transport where possible

• Switch off electronics when not in use

• Use recycled paper for printing and only printing when absolutely necessary

• Holding our suppliers to high environmental standards

We definitely aren't perfect yet and there is definitely more to be added to the list but we are trying to improve every day!

Ocean Summit

Georgina Black   Thu 22 Aug 2019

An Taisce, The National Trust for Ireland, will be holding an “Ocean Summit” in one of their ambassador secondary schools just outside Dublin in October. Along with this event, they would like to extend an invitation to students from Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England as part of a 2-day trip. The Ocean Summit would be held on day one and day two would involve a beach workshop activity day.

The summit will feature presentations from students and various workshops and activities with a key-note address from Fionn Ferreira (the student from Cork who just won the international Google science award for his micro plastics project).

An Taisce will cover all costs for travel, accommodation and food for 3 students and 1 teacher/guardian from a school in each of these countries. They can also organise all accommodation and provide the funds for each group to arrange their travel.

Please contact us for more information on how to get involved in this amazing opportunity.

Wrigley Litter Less – The Return of the Campaign

Georgina Black   Thu 22 Aug 2019   updated: Fri 13 Sep 2019

Year on year we have seen the number of eco-warriors grow thanks to the amazing participation of schools in the internationally renowned, Wrigley Litter Less Campaign. With the support of the Wrigley Foundation, we hope to make this school year the best so far!

The Wrigley Litter Less Campaign (LLC) is entering its 9th year in September 2019 and we would love you to join this global, anti-litter, anti-waste movement.

This is a special year as we join the rest of the world in looking at our relationship with packaging. The emphasis this year is placed on the issue of packaging in Northern Ireland as we try to raise awareness of the plastic pollution our country produces. Therefore, this year’s campaign will have a title: “Packaging and Land-Originated Plastic Pollution”.

Some of the most common household packaging – including crisp bags, pizza boxes and toothpaste tubes – are often not able to be recycled. Packaging is the first thing that consumers see, and it can heavily influence their buying decisions.

Taking part in the campaign will help you to work towards your Green Flag Award, while doing something active to protect the environment. Do not miss the opportunity to register your interest with us, so please get in touch with Francesca to express your interest as soon as possible.

Eco-Schools Wrigley LLC 2019/2020

This year we are looking for 25 primary schools to take part in the Campaign, and asking them to choose one criterion among three possible criteria (weight of litter in the school grounds; weight of paper recycled in the school; weight of dry recyclable material). You will have to run the campaign all year from September until the deadline for your final report on 8th April 2020.

Your first measurement, sent by the end of October 2019, will set your official participation to the international campaign, with the possibility of twinning with any other Eco-School abroad, along with your entitlement to receive funding to support your campaign.

Express your interest in participating by getting in touch with Francesca and you will receive your registration form.

Please choose three lesson plans from the ten ones suggested below to run your campaign on “Packaging and land-originated plastic pollution” and list your preference in the registration form along with the criterion your school will work on during the campaign.

Waste Management

Before you Begin

9-12 Years – Understanding Waste

9-12 years – School Waste Audit


Before you begin

9-12 + 13-16 Years – Litter Pick


Before you Begin

6-8 Years – Understanding Packaging

Marine Waste

Before you Begin

9-12 Years – Marine Pollution