Educating children in an eco-friendly learning environment will set in motion a virtuous cycle that will impact behaviours and attitudes for many years, and most changes require only the slightest adjustments to implement.
The old adage that people have a responsibility to protect and use the environment in a way that will protect it for our children and our grandchildren extends beyond simply separating our rubbish into the appropriate bins or cycling to work on a morning. We must instil a legacy that not only protects our children’s children, but ensures they are just as proactive in protecting the environment in the future, which is a call to action for our educational establishments.
The appearance of school grounds can have a dramatic effect on how a child feels about the place and on how they interact with their environment. What’s more, involving pupils in the design and creation of new features in your school grounds can help to develop new skills and new ways of thinking, as well as instilling a new sense of respect for students’ surroundings.
Here’s a few ideas on how schools can become ecofriendly thanks to the UK’s environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy.
- The importance of cutting energy
According to the Department for Children, Schools and Families, schools are responsible for 15 per cent of public sector carbon emissions. In reaction to these high levels, a new programme called Eco-Schools has been set up which encourages educational establishments to carry out an energy audit as part of an Environmental Review and then set targets for reducing unnecessary energy use through an Action Plan.
- Careful water management
In the UK, schools spend around £106 million a year on water, and a large secondary school can spend more than £20,000 a year on water alone. By actioning a water management programme, schools could save a tremendous amount of money as well promote sustainable living. A water reduction pledge is a good way to start, but simply addressing flow rates on taps and the amount of water used in toilets can be an effective way of cutting back on usage.
- Encouraging biodiversity in school grounds
The school grounds is an excellent place to encourage children to do their bit and get involved in a hands on way with the natural environment. By looking at biodiversity, teachers can raise awareness on certain subjects as well as encourage pupils to be proactive with nature. It is important to give pupils a little free reign outdoors, so help them to create compost heaps, create a recycling centre or build raised beds for plants, which will practically demonstrate how nature works.
- Sustainable transportation
A survey by YoungTransNet found that almost a third of young people (30 per cent) would like to travel in a more sustainable way, but according to the Department for Transport, currently only one per cent of them do. With respiratory problems on the rise for children, encouraging alternative transportation to school through already-established schemes is a good way of reducing car use.
- Tackling ‘global citizenship’
Global citizenship ensures pupils consider how the environmental, social and economic impacts of the decisions they make on a daily basis impact on the local and global community. This is something that should be taught in the classrooms, in the school grounds and at home, and there is a wealth of resources online which enable pupils to learn about key issues whenever they please.
- Getting an environmentally friendly contract cleaner
Hiring a specialist environmentally friendly cleaner, such as Nviro, ensures the school is kept in good shape in a sustainable manner. With a name like Nviro (pronounced en-viro) it won’t come as too much of a surprise to you that they focus hard on the environmental impact of their operations, and sustainability sits at the heart of everything they do. Their ethos will be seamlessly transferred into school procedure, which gives peace of mind that best practice is being applied on a day-to-day basis.