The 2019/2020 academic year marks the 23rd year of the Green-Schools programme in Ireland. Despite the temporary closure of schools in March, the dedication of schools to submit their Green Flag application after a two-year effort to create sustainable environments in their schools was both poignant and exceptional.
The Green-Schools staff who have been recently processing applications have been overwhelmed by the high standard and inspired by the positive actions taking place all over the country. A week of celebrations is taking place virtually from May 25-29th with Green-Schools Officers, Local Authorities, Sponsors, and communities commending the #GreenFlag2020 achievements made by schools nationwide.
During May, 750 schools nationwide were awarded the Green Flag for their work on the themes of Litter & Waste, Energy, Water, Travel, Biodiversity and Global Citizenship. Among these figures two Wicklow schools were awarded the Green flag for the first time under the Litter and Waste theme, four were awarded for Travel, three were awarded for Biodiversity, two were awarded for Global Citizenship Litter and Waste, three were awarded for Global Citizenship Energy, two were awarded for the Marine Environment, and one was awarded for Global Citizenship Travel.
Green-Schools Manager Cathy Baxter congratulated the awarded schools:
“Well done to all the students and teachers all over the country who have worked so hard to achieve this award. Seeing the creativity and positivity of thousands of young people taking action to improve our environment is truly inspiring. Congratulations to everyone involved.”
The collective efforts made by schools across Ireland culminated to impressive environmental savings across waste, energy, water and transport, and positive impacts were made towards biodiversity, global citizenship, and the marine environment. In 2020 schools diverted 2,500 tonnes of waste from landfill, and saved an impressive 592 million litres of water, 4.4 million litres of heating oil and over 29 million units of electricity. Throughout the year students contributed to lowering traffic related emissions at the school gate by walking, cycling and scooting to school. To promote active travel, a total of 4000 students received cycle training and 1100 spaces were created for bike and scooter parking.
The installation of new vegetable gardens and bird feeders improved students’ knowledge of the importance of biodiversity, and 2799 native trees were planted by students. Schools around the country learnt of the hazardous effects of climate change and marine pollution on our Oceans, with over 86% of schools participating in #2MinuteBeachCleans. On completion of the Global Citizenship themes, schools tripled their knowledge about global issues such as food origin and FairTrade, and 79 % of schools increased their knowledge on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Across Ireland there are over 4000 schools registered on the Green-Schools programme and with over 900,000 young people actively contributing to the Green-Schools programme for a more sustainable future.