Posted on Fri 05 Apr 2019
Eco-Schools Launch Marine Topic at Teachers Conference
Eco-Schools celebrated its 25th anniversary this year with the launch of a new Marine topic which shines a spotlight on the issue of plastic in our oceans. Teachers attending the Eco-Schools conference last week in W5 were inspired to take action to protect the environment from plastic after hearing moving speeches from Lizzie Daly, wildlife biologist and presenter, and Geoff Brighty, from Plastic Oceans UK. The conference was supported by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.
Over 180 teachers, pupils and guests learnt about the increasing concerns of plastic pollution and how the choices we all make daily can lead to micro-plastics from home, single-use plastics and litter from the land ending up in the sea where it takes centuries to breakdown, choking and poisoning wildlife in the meantime. Over 80% of litter washed up on NI shores is plastic and the equivalent of a dump truck of plastic enters our oceans every minute globally.
However it wasn’t all grim news, the speakers including young people from Eco-Schools (St Killian’s College, Carnlough, and Ashbourne Community School, Meath) had solutions to the problems too. Education and action are key to stopping this deadly flow – refuse single-use plastics, choose and dispose of toiletries carefully, carry your own reusable water bottle/cup, clean up beaches and local areas of litter, lobby your local politicians and business leaders to change policy and product design.
Ulidia Integrated College were there on the day to capture the events as part of their Young Reporters for the Environment campaign.
The conference was also an opportunity to recognise excellence in Eco-Schools with Forge Integrated Primary School, Belfast; Kilronan School, Magherafelt; McClintock Primary School, Omagh; St Ita’s Primary School, Castlereagh and Waringstown Primary School, Craigavon, all collecting Ambassador Eco-Schools awards on the day.
Outstanding teachers nominated by their pupils also received Eco-Teacher of the Year awards with Karen McKee from St Oliver Plunkett’s Primary School, Loughgall and Rachel Wilson from Down High School, Downpatrick, collecting the primary and post-primary titles respectively.
We’d also like to say a big thank you to our workshop providers: Lizzie Daly, Plastic Oceans UK, RSPB, Mill Strand Integrated Primary School, Ulster Wildlife, and Into Film.
Exhibitors on the day were Northern Ireland Assembly, British Council, Sustrans, CCEA, Ards and North Down Borough Council, Woodland Trust, Habitat for Humanity NI, Garden Escapes NI, SERC and Ambassador Eco-Schools.