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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!