St. Joseph’s Secondary School is an all girls school in Castlebar, Co. Mayo. There are 480 students and 30 teaching staff. They were awarded the Green Flag for Global Citizenship – Energy in May 2016.
Step 1: Green-Schools Committee
The committee is made up of one student and a substitute elected by each class group, a staff member appointed as Green-Schools coordinator and multiple staff members. The committee meet once a month and the meetings are advertised via the Green-Schools notice boards, school intercom and school TV.
Step 2: Environmental Review
For their Environmental Review, the committee completed an energy audit. The results showed that a lot of energy was wasted in the school (e.g. lights left on in unoccupied classrooms, computers left on overnight). The transition year students researched climate change in a class called ‘Eco Studies’ and created a poster to increase the awareness of global warming. The committee also completed a global awareness survey, with 25% of the school taking part. Few students were aware of carbon footprints and food but most students had some basic knowledge of fair trade products.
Step 3: Action Plan
The Action Plan started with a number of actions and surveys in order to complete a detailed environmental review. Along with the reviews mentioned above, some of their most successful actions included:
- Re-launched energy campaign “Last one out, turn it off”
- Promoted healthy lifestyle
- Encouraged green travel
- Donated shredded paper to local piggery
- Maintained orchard garden on school grounds
- Completed an action day (multicultural day with emphasis on festive foods)
- Created awareness of Fair Trade products
- Monitored energy usage
- Recycled batteries
- Installed water unit to reduce number of water bottles being recycled
- Calculated carbon footprint of fruit and vegetables
- Decreased volume of processed foods and packaging used in canteen
- Participated in ‘Junk couture’ competition
- Carried out an insulation survey
- Participated in West of Ireland mini marathon
Step 4: Monitoring & Evaluation
Progress is being monitored and evaluated by examining relevant utility bills. There has been a noticeable decrease in the in electricity usage from 62.3 to 45.3 kWh/Litres used per person per day. Other themes such as Litter & Waste, Energy, Water, Travel and Biodiversity have also been maintained and monitored. Examples include the promotion of car pooling, dedicated bins for landfills and recycling and many of the ingredients used in the Home Economics class are grown in the school garden.
Step 5: Curriculum Work
|Subject||Environmental Issue Covered|
|CSPE||Stewardship of the environment, global warming|
|Science||Type of pollution, green house gases, habitats and ecosystems|
|Home Economics||Recycling, resource management, healthy eating, food labelling, packaging, composting.|
|SPHE||Healthy living, food labelling and packaging|
|Geography||Climate change, water cycle, air pollution, fair trade, regional inequalities|
|Agricultural Science||Growing vegetables, ecology, fieldwork|
Step 5: Informing and Involving
The committee informed the whole school and wider community using various mediums. For example:
- Announcements by the Green-Schools committee over the intercom and school tv
- Green-Schools notice board
- Posts on the schools twitter account informed the wider community
- Information was sent to parents as part of the newsletter and website
- Photos of Green-School activities submitted to local newspapers
The school is kept up to date via the Green-Schools notice board, and newsletters.
Step 6: Green Code
Quote from David Attenborough:
In our hands now lies not only our future, but that of all other living creatures with whom we share the Earth
Students enjoyed the collegiality of working together on the various issues. More and more students become involved as the number of flags awarded to our school increases. This created an excitement within the student body.