Scoil Íosa National School is based in Tallaght and has 12 teachers and 112 students. They were awarded the flag for Litter and Waste in 2020 after reducing their general waste and recycling by 20%.
Step 1: Green-Schools Committee
The Green-School committee was formed by class teachers picking a child from each class, 1st class to 6th class. The Green-Schools co-ordinator attends the meetings and three other teachers are part of the Green-Schools staff team. The committee attend weekly meetings. Information is posted on the Green-Schools notice board, committee members go around to classes to update them after meetings and parents are informed via text message.
Step 2: Environmental Review
Scoil Íosa completed all the essential actions and most of the recommended actions for their environmental review. They identified litter blackspots and the main types of litter and waste produced by the school. The staff thought that recycling was a problem for the school and litter was not but when the litter blackspots were mapped, they were surprised to discover that there was a lot of litter hidden around the school yard. When they started clean ups, they began to realise that a lot of litter was blowing in from outside, but the students were also bringing food outside and packaging was being thrown away. The most common litter found was: bar wrappers, plastic bottles, crisp packets, paper and cans. Students are no longer allowed to bring packaging outside as a result.
All classes had a waste bin and recycling bin at the start of the environmental review, but the Green-Schools committee discovered that they were not being used properly. Paper and card were mixed in with food waste in the wrong bins in every classroom. School lunches were delivered during the second year of the programme and the amount of single–use plastic packaging that came with these was substantial. The company have been contacted about the packaging, but they are still awaiting a response and action from them. Teachers were not being careful with the amount of paper and card being used and they weren’t printing on both sides of sheets. Paper newsletters were being sent home to parents instead of emails. A questionnaire was sent to parents and while many were are of the refuse, reduce, reuse, recycle principles, quite a few didn’t know where the local recycling centre was. While parents were good at recycling at home, they may not be as good at reducing waste as seen in the amount of tinfoil, clingfilm and plastic bottles in lunches before the school lunches were introduced.
Step 3: Action Plan
Scoil Íosa’s targets were:
To reduce the amount of waste produced by the school, to keep the school litter-free and to raise awareness of reducing, re-using, and recycling.
Successful actions carried out included:
- Reduced amount of waste going to landfill and recycled waste by 20%.
- Contacted their recycling centre to find out what items can be recycled.
- Lunch box survey to see how much waste is being produced. Contact made with school lunch supplier to reduce single-use plastic and provide reusable water bottles instead of a new plastic one each day to reduce plastic waste.
- Made posters for recycling bins to inform students of what can be placed in the class recycling bins. Anti-litter posters made and displayed around the school.
- Green-Schools Green Code poster competition.
- Completed a landfill audit.
- Use text and email to contact parents to save paper.
- Waste audits carried out on food waste and recycled materials produced at school.
- Appointed ‘Wash and Squash’ ambassadors for each class to clean out yogurt and milk cartons before putting them in the recycling bin.
- Graphed results of waste audit and put on the notice board.
- Presented findings of waste survey and gave feedback on how to reduce waste in the school.
- Receipts from waste company analysed to show progress.
- Upcycled plastic bottles and recycled materials to make flower vases and plant pots.
Step 4: Monitoring and Evaluation
The Green-Schools committee appointed yard duty cleaners to monitor litter and do quick clean ups after break. They go around to each class and inform them if littering has increased. They have a survey on the Green-Schools notice board where emojis are used to show if the yard is thought to be clean or not that day. During the second year of the programme, another litter audit was carried out and wrappers from the new school lunches were found. The committee had to inform the school that everyone must bring their lunch waste home every day. New anti-littering posters were made and displayed around the school to remind students not to bring wrappers outside with them.
Waste from the classrooms was collected and sorted into paper, cardboard, metal, plastic etc. It was weighed and a graph was made to display the results on the notice board. A waste audit was completed after the introduction of school lunches and there was a lot more plastic in the bins. The committee had to inform the school that soft plastics cannot be recycled, and they put this information on the notice board as a reminder. The ‘Wash and Squash’ ambassadors were appointed to wash out cartons before they are put in the recycling bin.
Step 5: Curriculum Links
Some examples of the school’s curriculum links include:
Junior and Senior Infants: Junk Art Aistear themes e.g. robots, castles, transport, Halloween etc.
Geography & SPHE
5th & 6th class: Climate change
All classes: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
Green-Schools committee: Mapping litter blackspots
Green-Schools committee: Waste Audit, sorting and weighing waste, graphing results
5th & 6th class: Letter writing to lunch company
All classes: Green School Slogan competition
Green-Schools committee: Interviewing caretaker, cleaners, and principal
Art & Music
ASD unit: Spoon and fork people with recycled materials
1st class: Snowman with recycled materials
2nd class: Candles with recycled materials
3rd class: Flower vases with recycled materials
2nd, 3rd & 4th class: Musical Instruments with recycled materials
5th & 6th class: Junk art
All classes: Easter Bonnet Hats with recycled materials
6. Informing and Involving
The school informed and involved the whole school and local community in the following ways;
- The Green-Schools notice board.
- Notice on classroom doors showing results of best bins, the points are awarded by the bin inspectors.
- Green-Schools committee members go around to the classes to deliver messages, news, and reminders on a regular basis.
- Posters displayed around the school to disseminate messages and upcoming events.
- The school try to involve each class in most actions.
- Committee members are changed each year so other children can get involved.
- Parents are informed by text and newsletters are now sent by email.
- Parents were sent questionnaires about their knowledge on reducing, reusing, and recycling.
Step 7: Green Code
“Our Green-School code is written in bold,
A reminder to those young and old.
Waste should be scarce,
Recycling we rehearse,
Each day as we strive to go green.
We’ll use the correct bin,
Reduce paper within,
An idea on which we are keen.
When the sun shines bright,
We’ll turn off the light,
Energy savings fit for a queen.
We’ll practice and preach,
Until new heights we reach,
A Green-School is what will be seen.
Our Green-School Code is written in bold,
A reminder to those young and old.”
“It is a great programme which the children get really get involved in. They loved doing all of the activities and it has really expanded their appreciation for their school and local environment. The bin inspectors do a better job than the teachers at reminding the pupils to recycle properly and to put the correct waste in each bin. The Day of Action really brought the whole school together to make the school a greener place. The pupils were the ones who really wanted to write to the lunch company to reduce the lunch packaging.”