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Sustainable Schools

 

School curriculum project ideas:

Waste

  • Ask students to create art during their art class! This could be a 3D sculpture or 2D picture.
  • If they would like to use waste to create the art, try to prioritise using materials which cannot be recycled or reused, or construct it in a way it can be destructed to be recycled or reused (for example not gluing/putting glitter on otherwise recyclable cardboard).
  • To give them more focus, they could agree on a topic such as ‘Ocean Plastics’, ‘Landfill’, ‘Litter’, ‘Plastic World’ or have free reign to make something which demonstrates the issues of climate change and sustainability to them.
  • You could arrange for them to be displayed in a school hall for class groups to go and see all the artwork from other year groups, and COVID and time dependant you could even open it to parents one evening!
  • Find out what happens to your food waste in Three Rivers (video)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16VcgyjPTvM&t=1s
  • How does your recycling get separated? (Video) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fgfTQfKRVPY
  • You can watch a recording of a Webinar by WasteAware taking a closer look at what’s in our bins, where it comes from, and what happens to it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=db6kqXje_EI&t=2s

 

Water

  • This is an experiment to show what can and cannot be flushed down the toilet and the impact of plastics in our water. This would be perfect for a science class! You can find an instruction sheet here:

Toilet experiment instructions

  • Did you know that Hertfordshire is one of the driest Counties in the UK yet uses the most water? The water we use comes from local Chalk Streams which are a globally rare habitat with only around 260 globally, 85% of which are in England. They are a haven for iconic species like the otter, kingfisher and salmon, which is why we need to work to protect them.
  • 6 million menstrual products and 9.3 million wet wipes are flushed every single day, with over 14,000 single use wipes are used every second! (water_security_oct_14.pdf (the-ies.org)) Items other than toilet paper, pee and poo being flushed contributes to fatbergs – huge mass of sanitary products, wet wipes, nappies, fats and oils. Other than being completely disgusting, every year the UK spends about £100m clearing an estimated 300,000 fatbergs. (Water UK). The build-up of fatbergs contribute to local flooding as the sewers grown narrower and water flow is reduced. This is already a massive issue across the Country, and will only grow worse with Climate Change and more extreme weather events.

 

Transport/air quality

  • Lots of students may be limited as to how they get to school, whether that’s due to safety concerns for walking/cycling or their parents schedules – but one thing that can make a big difference, is putting a stop to idling. This is particularly important at schools, as leaving engines running while collecting and dropping off children lowers the air quality right where the children are standing. Unfortunately air quality measuring equipment is very expensive – so why not measure it yourself!
  • This could be part of your Science class, however it would mean staying a little later or starting a little earlier!
  • School classes/year groups could take turns over a number of weeks/months to do the test.
  • Children could go out to the parking area closely monitored by staff, and tally how many cars leave their engines running, and the older ones could take it further and note down the length of time and make of car to calculate emissions later.
  • Students could follow this up with creating posters or leaflets for their parents or to put on display near the carpark to help stop parents leaving their engine on.

 

Other things your school and students can be more sustainable:

  • Share the information with parents – here is some suggested text to start you off:

Dear Parent,

As part of the school curriculum this year, we are taking part in a number of projects and initiatives surrounding Climate Change and Sustainability.  If you would like to know what changes you can make to live more sustainably, you can view the Council’s new Sustainability booklet here. This goes through the issues facing us across a variety of topics, and what people can do at home to make a difference. You can also sign-up to get ‘Greener Living’ updates from the Council here which will update you with local projects and campaigns, celebrate those making a difference, and support those wanting to do more.

  • We are working on a Hertfordshire-wide project to reduce waste from period products. Not only will this reduce plastics waste, but helps tackle period poverty by reducing long-term costs, breaks down stigma, can be better for health, and can make some sports (for example swimming) more accessible for people with periods. We are looking to train teachers across Hertfordshire in the different products and have demo boxes available to borrow in order to increase awareness of these alternatives through school lessons. To do this we really need to hear from teachers about what you would like from this training, and what you are already teaching. The survey only takes a few minutes, so please pass it along to a teacher who teaches about periods/sex education. Environmenstrual Ambassador Campaign (hertfordshire.gov.uk)

 

  • Get on-top of your recycling. All of your recycling is collected mixed as it is for households – so no need to separate plastics or paper or anything else, it can all go in together. Try to ensure there is a recycling bin next to every refuse bin which is clearly labelled – the students could event make the labels themselves! The recycling collections from your school are free – so the more you recycle, the less you will pay in refuse collections!

 

  • Reduce your food waste. An area larger than China is used to grow food that is never eaten, 25% of the world’s fresh water supply is used to grow food that is never eaten, and If food waste were a country it would be the 3rd largest emitter of greenhouse gases (after China & the USA)! Reducing our food waste will have a massive impact on both carbon emmisions, and the environment - everything from deforestation, land and water use, biodiversity loss and more! Have a look at your school menus and discuss with kitchen staff to see how you could reduce your food waste, and recycle what you do produce.

 

  • More than half of all food emissions come from animal products, so reducing meat and dairy consuption can have a significant impact on carbon footprint. Can you and your students work to come up with some more meat free alternatives, or have meat-free Mondays? 

 

  • Talks are available from the Council, either class room talks, assembly’s, meetings with eco groups, or a meeting with staff to discuss ideas and next steps. Please get in contact with Roberts@threerivers.gov.uk to find out more.

 

  • School eco newsletters are sent periodically to schools, however they only go to the general inbox – so please ask whoever looks after the inbox to forward this to you when it comes through, or pop an email to Roberts@threerivers.gov.uk and I will add you to a mailing list so you get updates directly.

 

  • Encourage staff to get Carbon Literacy training https://carbonliteracy.com/individual/ The course helps people to understand climate change better, what to do about it, and how to support and encourage others.

 

  • Reduce your waste – here’s a 10 step guide!

 10 steps to reducing waste (pdf)

 

Other school resources: