Dunderrow National School is a large primary school with 17 teachers and 230 students in county Cork. They were awarded their first flag for Litter and Waste in 2020 and reduced their waste output by 20% and reduced the amount of litter blackspots around the school.
Step 1: Green-Schools Committee
The Green-Schools committee consists of students from each class level, 2nd to 6th class. Students were chosen to represent different classrooms for the first year and remain on the committee for a two-year cycle. During the second year, new students are asked to volunteer to become committee members for another two-year cycle and representatives from each class are chosen. This way, the same members from year one remain on the committee and this ensures continuity of knowledge and procedure. Two teachers and one SNA also volunteered for the committee. The committee meets every two weeks to discuss progress, the review process and come up with new ideas going forward.
Step 2: Environmental Review
The Green-Schools committee carried out all essential and recommended actions. They identified litter blackspots and created a map. They identified the different sources of litter, carried out a waste audit and an awareness survey. From the environmental review, they found that most people were aware of the refuse, reduce, reuse, and recycle principles but more education was needed on what could actually be recycled. They also noticed that there was only one bin outside and that was leading to littering on the school grounds. They discovered that waste segregation in the classrooms wasn’t working well and some extra bins, labelling and education were required to improve on this. They found that one of the main sources of waste was paper towels for drying hands.
Step 3: Action Plan
Dunderrow NS set out 4 goals to achieve and created actions based on the goals:
Goal 1: Reduce school’s waste by 20%.
- Organise a 2-bin system in the classrooms.
- Design posters for bins to inform students and staff what material goes into each bin.
- Battery recycling boxes placed in each classroom and emptied regularly so batteries are disposed of correctly.
Goal 2: Reduce the amount of lunch related waste in school bins by 75%.
- Encourage use of lunchboxes in school.
- Encourage use of reusable water bottles.
- Inform parents and students of alternative lunch wrappings.
Goal 3: Reduce the number of litter blackspots by 70%.
- Organise litter patrols.
- Raise awareness about the problems associated with litter.
- Participate in Litter Less campaign.
Goal 4: Reduce the amount of paper being used in school by 30%.
- Use of school app for information going home instead of paper notes.
- Older classes to use PowerPoint (or equivalent) for project work.
- Check that paper used in school is FSC approved.
Step 4: Monitoring and Evaluation
Rang 1 are ‘Rubbish Monsters’ and they clean the school grounds every dry day after lunch. They award a red/orange/green/gold face depending on the amount of rubbish collected and the results are displayed on the Green-Schools notice board. Classroom bins are sorted and weighed once a month by the Green-Schools committee and classes are awarded stars accordingly. A new map of litter blackspots is completed each term. Lunch box inspections are carried out each term to check for single-use plastics. Invoices for paper and waste collection are analysed throughout the school year.
Step 5: Curriculum Links
Some examples of the school’s curriculum links include:
Junior Infants: Using recyclable materials to make Junk Art on themes of ‘The Vet’, ‘Summer’.
Planting cress seeds to make cress heads in yoghurt cartons.
Senior Infants: Junk Art – the hospital
Geography & Science
Junior Infants: Seashore – litter causing damage to sea creatures; litter pick-ups on beach and Kinsale town.
Rang 4: Planting cress seeds to observe what plants need to grow.
All classes: Encourage responsibility for the environment.
English & SPHE
Rang 4, 5 & 6: Debate topics on ‘People should be fined for not recycling’, ‘Climate Change is not our problem’, ‘Plastic bottles should be banned’
All classes: Promote communication, presentation, and co-operation skills.
Develop sense of social responsibility.
Maths & Computers
Rang 5 & 6: Creation of bar charts on rubbish collected in school.
Rang 6: Creation of bar charts on survey of how we travelled to school.
Designing and printing of labels for dustbins.
Art & Music
Rang 1: Using recyclable materials to make Junk Art – houses and structures.
Rang 2, 4 & 5: Creating boats/lighthouses.
Rang 5: Use of waste materials for construction in Art.
Using recyclable materials to create eco-friendly houses.
Use of waste materials to make musical instruments.
Step 6: Informing and Involving
The school informed and involved the whole school and local community in the following ways:
- New committee members join each year and are rotated on a two-year basis.
- Rang 1 are involved as the ‘Rubbish Monsters’ and keep the outside environment clean.
- School assemblies: The Green-Schools committee or the co-ordinator updates the whole schools during assembly.
- In-class visits: Green-Schools committee members relay information with in-class visits.
- Green-Schools Notice Board: Displays current information, is regularly updated, and can be viewed by the whole school or visitors to the school.
- Information about Green-Schools is sent to parents via the school app. Fortnightly tips on reducing waste and recycling are sent to parents by the Green-Schools committee.
- Guest speakers: From ‘Plastic Free Kinsale’ provide talks and workshops on plastic in our oceans.
- Local Tidy Towns visit the school to inspect the grounds and Dunderrow NS was awarded ‘Best School’ in 2018. As part of the Kinsale Tidy Towns Awards, a member of the Green-Schools Committee won the ‘Junior Local School Hero’ for her environmental work in November 2019.
Step 7: Green Code
The Green Code is on display around the school and children are reminded of it whenever the committee visit a classroom in relation to a Green-Schools event.
“Let’s work as a team to keep our school green!”
“The children are really enthused about the ethos of the Green–Schools. They are very informed and involved, especially the members of the committee. Rang 1 love having the duty of Rubbish Monsters. Children are much more aware of the environmental issue of litter and waste, especially single-use plastics.”