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One BIG Opportunity

Georgina Black   Tue 29 Oct 2019

The Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs has launched a consultation to develop a 25 year plan for our environment.

That gives you One BIG Opportunity to make a real difference and we want to make sure decision makers hear from you.

Here’s how: copy and paste these environmental asks listed below, and email back to by 5pm on 23rd December 2019.

Remember to say who you are and include your age.

It’s that simple. Use just ONE email to take your ONE BIG Opportunity to make a lasting impact on our environment.

#ONEBIGOPPORTUNITY

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Question No.1 Response

Create healthier communities by providing opportunities to get together more outdoors in accessible public spaces to do good and feel good through practical environmental action.

This should link in with other strategies around sustainable development, mental Health and well-being. Research has shown the benefits that volunteering has for an individual’s general health.

Questions No.4 Response

Inform every young person about climate breakdown, the loss of our wildlife and marine plastic pollution and what it means for our future. Help us find ways to raise awareness and to take action together. Declare a

climate emergency.

Question No.5 Response

Invest more in public transport making our dependence on cars less necessary and improving air quality

Question No.7 Response

Plant more native trees. We have the lowest level of tree cover anywhere in Europe and want to see 20% of our land planted with trees; important for nature to thrive.

Create a waste free society where we use less, waste less and stop polluting our seas. And anything we use, including single use plastics,

needs to be part of a truly circular economy.

Help everyone learn how to grow more tasty local food and provide plants for our pollinating bees.

Question No.10 Response

All of the above.

Calling all teachers, principals, students, parents and members of the community. Is there a teacher that inspires you to grow, to build a better future and is truly passionate about the environment? Now is your chance to celebrate them by nominating them as the Eco-Teacher of the year.

How to enter:

Pupils can submit a nomination in the form of a poem, letter, storyboard, essay, photos, video or whatever way you think best answers the question. Entries must be no more than 100 words to explain why their teacher should be “Eco-Teacher of the Year 2020”.

There will be two teachers selected; one primary school teacher and one post-primary school teacher.

This competition is open to all schools. One entry per school. The deadline for the competition is the Friday 14st February 2020.

Email entries to: or post them to Eco-Schools, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, Bridge House, 2 Paulett Avenue, Belfast, BT5 4HD.

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful have been working with Culture Night & Day (CNB) to support them in their journey to reduce single-use plastic. To kick things off they added their Plastic Promise, making their commitment public and to encourage everyone to get on board. As they continue to reduce their use, they can revisit their Plastic Promise at any time and set new goals and targets and get higher up the leadership board.

This year CNB took a stand against plastic, they are committed to reducing on-site waste, meeting green objectives and developing more sustainable ways of producing their event. Focusing on proper recycling, encouraging festival goers to bring their own reusable bottles, cups and food containers, informing traders to easily accept and encourage reusable items and much more. Check out their green checklist for more information.

Simple things.. just by encouraging people to bring their reusables to events like this one and when out and about can make a big difference. Such as, polystyrene food containers and coffee cups used for only a matter of minutes to suit our convenient lifestyle are avoided and less overall waste clogging up our already over stretched collection systems. If we just take a moment to stop, think and prepare we can enjoy the events like this one, but not contribute to the aftermath of litter and bin waste.

Our Young Reporters for the Environment also got involved and one student, Maria Aaroy, from St Dominic’s High School, took the opportunity to interview Joe Nawaz, Marketing & Communications Manager at CNB. Joe shares with Maria why they decided to add their Plastic Promise, the importance of CNB being a sustainable, green event and what their aspirations are for the future. Watch it here.

We all need to play our part in reducing our use of pointless plastic. We need more events, organisations, individuals declaring their Plastic Promise and taking action. Sign your Plastic Promise now!

Ocean Summit – Dublin 2019

Georgina Black   Tue 29 Oct 2019

In October Northern Irish Young Reporters for the Environment students spent two days learning about our seas and oceans at two Green-Schools events in Meath and Dublin. Ireland’s first Ocean Assembly for secondary students was held in Ashbourne Community College on Tuesday 15th October, and on Wednesday, students from St. Colm’s High School, Belfast Royal Academy, Wallace High School and St. Dominic’s High School joined Green-Schools at Portmarnock for the launch of the Green-Schools ‘newest campaign ‘Sea Starts Here’ to combat litter pollution. With the permission of Fingal County Council, students and Green-Schools staff used stencils to spray paint the ‘sea starts here’ message at road drains, drawing attention to the link between land-based activities and marine pollution.

The YRE students met Google Science Fair winner Fionn Ferreira who had his presentation on micro-plastic at the event. During the 2-day event, the ambassador school advised participating schools on the seven steps of the Green-Schools programme, along with a tour of their school and a talk on social media and environmental campaigns.

Cathy Baxter, Green-Schools Manager said: “We have enjoyed two exceptional days of learning about our seas and oceans and what we can do to prevent further pollution. The enthusiasm of our secondary school students cannot be underestimated; they are so keen to learn more and more about their environment and climate change and what they can do to help”.

There are currently 16 secondary schools working on the Marine Environment theme in Ireland. Eco-Schools Northern Ireland has launched the Marine Topic this year wishing to reach the same encouraging number in the next couple of years!

This event and many others can be the opportunity for our schools to discover how their work on the Eco-Schools and YRE programmes has positively, influenced people and their local environment and how our young people can be game changers.

Schools Pledge their Plastic Promise

Georgina Black   Mon 28 Oct 2019

From banning single use plastic bottles to replacing plastic straws with paper ones, schools across the board are committing to a sustainable plastic pollution free future.

Make your Plastic Promise  

• Saint Johns Primary School

BANNED: Beverage bottles, Lollipop sticks

REDUCED: Packets & wrappers, Cotton buds, Balloons, Carrier bags, Straws, Cutlery, Takeaway cups

• St. Colm’s High School, Draperstown

REDUCED: Packets & wrappers, Cotton buds, Balloons, Carrier bags, Straws, Food containers, Cutlery, Takeaway cups, Lollipop sticks

PLEDGED: Beverage bottles

• St. Matthew’s Primary School, Drumsurn

BANNED: Balloons, Beverage bottles

REDUCED: Straws, Food containers, Takeaway cups

• Down High School

POLICY: Straws, Cutlery

PLEDGED: Packets & wrappers, Balloons, Carrier bags, Food containers, Beverage bottles, Takeaway cups, Lollipop sticks

• Leaney Primary School

BANNED: Straws

REDUCED: Carrier bags, Food containers, Beverage bottles

• St. Malachy's Primary School, Kilclief

BANNED: Straws, Beverage bottles

• St. Ronan’s College

PLEDGED: Food containers, Beverage bottles, Takeaway cups

• St. Patricks College, Maghera

PLEDGED: Packets & wrappers, Takeaway cups

• Thornfield House Special School

PLEDGED: Beverage bottles

• Killean Primary School

BANNED: Balloons, Beverage bottles

REDUCED: Packets & wrappers, Cotton buds, Carrier bags, Straws, Food containers, Cutlery, Takeaway cups, Lollipop sticks

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful with Amazon Smile

Georgina Black   Wed 02 Oct 2019

We live in a time of overconsumption. We all need to use less, borrow more, and be happy with what we have. But we have to do it in steps we can manage. We would always promote use what we have, reuse what others don’t want, buy better and buy local. There are times when this is not always possible and for whatever reason you need to buy from further afield.

Keep Northern Ireland has signed up to Amazon Smile. This means that if you make a purchase using Amazon Smile every purchase you make will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful.

In order to donate you need to buy through the Amazon Smile site but you can switch to it before paying if you have gone in through the normal amazon site. You can add it to you toolbar to help remind you.

When ordering from Amazon please look at the frustration free packaging option – which will ship you your products without additional packaging, designed to reduce waste in 100% recyclable packaging. Also at checkout choose the option of least number of parcels so items are sent as one rather than lots of separate packages.

Every little bit helps us to do more so please share our link widely and use it sparingly when needed.

Thank you

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful

Into Film Festival (6th - 22nd November)

Georgina Black   Fri 27 Sep 2019

BOOKINGS NOW OPEN FOR THE WORLD’S LARGEST FREE FILM FESTIVAL

Pupils across Northern Ireland are once again being offered the opportunity to attend free cinema trips and access free resources through the Into Film Festival, with 3,000 film screenings and 200 special events taking place throughout the UK. Returning for its 7th year from 6-22 November, the Festival is the world’s largest free film festival. It’s many themes and topics can be utilised by educators across the curriculum, in subjects such as English, modern foreign languages (MFL), geography, history, PSHE, politics and citizenship. Pupils are also encouraged to enter the annual Into Film Festival film review writing competition to promote literacy through film.

The Festival, hosted by film education charity, Into Film, will launch this year with an ambitious, environmentally themed event that spans the UK with the support of Greenpeace and UNICEF. Featured will be simultaneous pupil premieres of the new climate change documentary “2040”, followed by a Q&A session with director Damon Gameau. “2040” has been cited as the first film aimed at young audiences to offer a hopeful response to youth ‘eco-anxiety.’

This year’s Festival is comprised of eight strands that can help educators navigate the packed programme: Mental Wellbeing & Identity, Language & Creativity, The Natural World, Exploring History, Debate, Fantasy & Adventure, Rebellion and Musicals.

Some of the highlights for Northern Ireland are;

• 2040 WITH LIVE STREAM Q&A WITH DIRECTOR DAMON GAMEAU at Queens Film Theatre Belfast

• Pupil premiere of the Biggest Little Farm at Strand Arts,

• March of the Penguins 2 followed by a workshop with Wee Critters at the Braid in Ballymena,

• Irish language screening of The Breadwinner followed by review writing at Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich

The Into Film Festival 2019 will take place from 6-22 November. All events and screenings are free.

For programme information, book tickets and download resources visit Into Film

For more information on the 2040 film and campaign, go to WhatsYour2040

For general Into Film NI contact Peter Murray, Into Film Programme Coordinator.

School Climate Strike Action

Georgina Black   Fri 27 Sep 2019

St Colm’s Climate Strike in Draperstown

St. Colm’s High School, along with local primary schools in Screen Eco-schools, took part the Global Climate Strike 2019. They organised a strike at the entrance to the parish of Ballinascreen, County Londonderry, on 20th September 2019. Over 300 pupils and staff took part. When asked why they were striking the pupils held very strong opinions on the need for change.

“We feel passionately about our planet and preserving it for future generations. We want the people in power to hear what we have to say. We are the future and we need to have a secure future!!”

St. Colm’s was awarded the UK’s TES Sustainable Schools Award at a ceremony in London in June of this year and it is one of the most active Ambassador Eco-Schools here in Northern Ireland.

A Week of Climate Action at St Ronan’s College

St Ronan’s College, Lurgan, organised a full week of discussions and activities before the climate strike on 20th September, to encourage pupils and staff members to sign their climate pledge. This pledge calls for actions that will halt climate breakdown and increase awareness about global warming. The initiative has seen the participation of the entire school and an all School Assembly on Climate Action held on Friday 20th with Mrs Bernadette McAliskey as special guest speaker.

On the same day, St Ronan’s College launched their new reusable water bottles in an attempt to cut down on their plastic waste… their next step will be signing their Plastic Promise on the Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful website. Be the next to sign it!

YRE/Into Film Workshops

Georgina Black   Fri 27 Sep 2019   updated: Tue 29 Oct 2019

We are delighted to announce that Eco-Schools NI and Into FILM have partnered-up to offer 2 workshops free of charge this November for teachers about storytelling and filmmaking.

These training courses will allow you to become more familiar with the Young Reporters for the Environment programme and at the same time, it will offer you a guide for your project delivery.

Attending the YRE/Into FILM workshops can be used towards your CPD progress and will open the possibility to start new collaborations within your school with colleagues in other departments (e.g. Film-Club coordinator and media coordinator).

Registrations are now open for interested teachers, so please contact Francesca.

Workshops

10am-2pm Strule Arts Centre, Omagh - 26th November 2019

10am-2pm Crawfordsburn Country Park, Bangor - 27th November 2019

More details coming soon

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

Litter

Before you Begin

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

15-18 Years – Litter Blitz

Packaging

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

Litter

Before you begin

9-12 + 13-16 Years – Litter Pick

Packaging

Before you Begin

6-8 Years – Understanding Packaging

Marine Waste

Before you Begin

9-12 Years – Marine Pollution