Welcome back to the second part of the 2018/19 academic year. The staff here at Green-Schools are well rested after the Christmas break and ready for the new calendar of exciting events and programmes.

January often comes with great promise of ‘a fresh start’. We put high expectations on ourselves to be healthier, achieve more and curb any poor habits which we might have fallen victim to during the previous year.

It’s challenging, sometimes, to keep up with the constant change of what’s expected of us as society. It seems we flip too quickly from accelerated consumption and indulgence throughout December only to give it all up again for the month of January. We often march to the calling-bell of trending fads and popular monthly challenges such as Veganuary, Plastic-Free, July, Re-use month etc. That is not disparage any of these trends, there is merit in the message of each of these challenges, but is there longevity in these practices? If you are motivated by goals and challenges then perhaps New Year’s resolutions are a good way to start the year, but it is important to listen to your own body and be moved by your own energies. Some people feel more motivated to start up new initiatives at different times of the year and you stand a better chance of enjoying a successful regime without the social pressures of competitive monthly goals.

Going vegan for January has gained much momentum this year and might come as a shock to those of us not accustomed to a solely plant-based diet. Similarly, you might drive yourself to distraction if you aim to eliminate every piece of plastic from your lifestyle with immediate effect! I speak as an induvial when I write this; but this year I am going to reflect on all the positive changes I implemented in my life in 2018 and continue to work towards those step by step. Last June I took on the challenge to commute by bike each day for one week. The benefits were so immeasurable for me that I kept up the practice for a few days each week. I am using this as an example because the task involved was easy for me to achieve and I had the energy at that time to change my commuting behaviour.

If we are to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, unprecedented changes in all aspects of society are required. It may seem like a small drop in the ocean to eat more plant-based foods or to actively travel to school or work as an individual, but collective efforts can create monumental change for a brighter and more sustainable world. Therefore, educating young people on environmental topics is key to shaping a more sustainable future for everyone. Did you know that last year over 20K Green-Schools students walked to school on WOW days? Green-Schools students also diverted nearly 3000 tonnes of waste from landfill as well as saving 389 million litres of water.

By working on each of the Green-Schools themes, participating students are equipped with skills and motivation needed to live more environmentally friendly lifestyles. They also inspire others in their communities and families with their great efforts to eliminate local pollution, reduce waste and improve Irelands position in reducing emissions.

To close out, we want to thank all the Green-Schools students, coordinators, staff and sponsors for the great results we collectively achieved in 2018. We wish the very best of luck to everyone who has made a New Years resolution but more importantly we hope that the environmental actions continually taken throughout the Green-Schools programme are enjoyable and brings quality to your life.