Eco-Schools and Green SchemesIf you’re part of a school – be it as a teacher, parent, governor or even pupil – and interested in green issues, there’s a lot that you can do to incorporate your environmentally friendly beliefs into school, whichever part of school life you get involved in.

There are many schemes already being coordinated at a national, European and international level that could help your school move towards becoming more eco-friendly and sustainable. Here are some ideas to take to other school stakeholders that might just help make your school a greener place if implemented.

The Eco-Schools Programme

The Eco-schools scheme is one of the largest school networks, concerned with improving eco-standards in schools across the world. Broadly speaking, it provides member schools with a framework by which to begin evaluating its current processes in terms of the environment. The Eco-schools programme’s objective is ultimately to help schools raise green standards by advising them on the improvements they can make.

Getting Pupils Involved

Central to the scheme is the involvement of school pupils – educating them not only on issues of energy efficiency, the environment, recycling and so on, but also allowing them to manage the implementation of green measures whilst at school. According to the programme’s guide: “By encouraging pupils to take responsibility for the environmental management of their school, they will develop an increased sense of responsibility for their surroundings.”

In practice, this means teams of students from across classes taking responsibility for a particular aspect of their school as an extra curricular activity, such as ensuring playgrounds and classrooms are kept tidy. This practical experience is much more effective in educating the long term attitudes of pupils than simply teaching them in the classroom. Studies have shown that humans can absorb 10% of what they read but 90% of what they say and do.

Improving the School Environment

Becoming more eco-friendly also benefits a school in terms of its overall look and feel, both inside the school itself as well as around the school grounds. With everyone working to make their school, a greener, cleaner place, the standards and morale of the local community are also raised significantly.

Inside the School:

  • Colourful and interesting displays around the school
  • Themed signs to encourage pupils to take small actions
  • Unused lights switched off and doors closed
  • Recycling facilities and other energy saving products
  • Water saving devices in toilets

Around the School Grounds:

  • Less litter within the school grounds and in the surrounding area
  • More plant and wildlife
  • Bicycle racks, pedestrian areas and cycle lanes
  • Clean and well maintained recycling facilities

Financial Benefits

One of the biggest challenges a school faces is the balancing of books and managing of tight budgets. A fantastic advantage of improving green standards in a school is that it will also save the school money overall too. A building can make significant savings on energy bills simply by preventing draughts, shutting doors and promoting energy saving measures to pupils such as switching off lights and equipment when not in use. Encouraging all members of a school to turn off taps, reuse items and generally be less wasteful with materials will also help reduce costs – as well as being much more environmentally friendly.