Nowadays, children and young people are more environmentally conscious and aware of their impact on the world around them. Many are becoming environmental activists and looking to make positive changes in their own communities, following the lead of Greta Thunberg and the school climate strike movement. The younger generation deserve to have their voices heard, and concerns addressed, as the actions taken right now to tackle climate change will shape the world they inherit. In the words of Greta Thunberg “you are never too small to make a difference”.
One of the best ways schools and colleges can support pupils who are already engaged in environmental issues, and spark an interest in protecting the natural world in others, is through leading by example. Pupils need to see their school taking steps to become more environmentally friendly, and staff role modelling the behaviour they want to encourage in pupils who aren’t as environmentally conscious yet, such as picking up litter, using recycling bins, and choosing sustainable materials over single-use plastic.
A study by the Sustainable Development Commission found that schools contributed to almost 2% of all UK carbon dioxide emissions, and 15% of emissions from the public sector. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a primary greenhouse gas, which traps heat in the atmosphere and warms the planet. If we continue to release too much of this then we will see significant changes to our climate and planet, such as increased wildfires and melting glaciers, some of which will be irreversible. In schools, carbon dioxide emissions come from energy use in school buildings, transport, waste management, and the activities of the companies producing goods and services for the school.
There are lots of simple and innovative ways for schools to reduce their carbon footprint, such as switching to a renewable energy supplier, creating an urban garden and composting, or implementing a green travel plan. These actions often have added benefits, such as saving money and increasing wellbeing. Encouraging low-carbon forms of travel, such as walking or cycling, and participating in initiatives like walk to school week (17-21 May 2021) is a great example of a green initiative with added benefits for health and wellbeing.
You may also find that including pupils, their families, and the wider community in these discussions about environmental awareness will generate more ideas and pupil-led green initiatives. You may find that you have some renewable energy experts in your local area or conservationists who would be happy to come to the school and share their knowledge.
“As schools often lie at the centre of local communities, they can raise awareness of low-carbon practices and technologies with pupils and to the wider community of parents and carers, community groups and businesses.” (Sustainable Development Commission)
Our latest short course on Environmentally friendly schools will explore the impact of schools on the environment, how to reduce the carbon footprint of your school through initiatives and changes, such as recycling and energy saving schemes, and the importance of involving pupils, their families, and the wider community.
For the month of May, we’re offering 15% off this short course with the discount code:
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