Litter and Waste is the first theme of the Green-Schools programme. The theme is a great starting point for encouraging a sense of personal pride and responsibility in tackling two visible issues in schools and communities. The aim of this theme is to take an in depth look at both litter and waste and find ways to eliminate litter and reduce waste output. The Litter and Waste theme is funded by Local Authorities, Textile Recycling Ltd T/A Clothes Pod and The Wrigley Company Ltd.
For the 2021/2022 academic year, schools working on the Litter & Waste theme/First Green Flag Award are due to apply before March 1st, 2022. Visit our Apply page for more information.
What is litter?
Litter is waste in the wrong place and is always caused by humans.
Litter ruins the appearance of our beautiful towns and countryside. Litter has many forms and many sources, from a sweet wrapper thrown on the street to a dumped bag of rubbish or a fly-tipped load of demolition rubble. Local Authorities spend millions every year cleaning the streets of Ireland and trying to prevent people from dumping their waste illegally. We feel, the money and effort spent on this could be spent on better things!
Litter such as broken bottles and cans left lying around public areas can easily result in an injury, while food litter can attract rats and flies, which spread disease. Litter can also be lethal to wildlife, from discarded fishing lines that can maim and kill water birds, to plastic bags mistaken for food and ingested by animals such as cows, sheep, horses and some marine animals.
Most schools have a litter problem to some degree. The first challenge on the way to becoming a Green-School is to prevent and reduce the amount of litter in the school grounds and raise awareness about the problems associated with litter.
What is Waste?
Waste is an unwanted or unsalable substance or material.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Ireland, since 2007, municipal waste has declined, by 24 per cent per capita, despite an increase in population. Nevertheless, per capita waste generation is still considered to be at an unsustainably high level in Ireland. Municipal waste includes household and commercial waste.
In the past, Ireland sent almost all waste to landfill. However, over the last ten years, Ireland has moved towards a more sophisticated infrastructure of waste recovery and recycling activities.
By thinking about the impact we are having on the environment and changing our actions accordingly we can play an important part in promoting sustainable development. Reducing the amount of waste we produce by re-using, repairing, composting, recycling and, most importantly, preventing waste in the first place, we can help to protect both our country and our planet for future generations.
Targets are set at European level and various Directives are in place, such as the Landfill Directive, the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive’s, and the Waste Framework Directive. The Waste Framework Directive sets a target for 50% of municipal waste to be recycled by 2020 in countries throughout European Union (EU).
In 2004, a National Waste Prevention Programme was launched in Ireland, led by the EPA and in 2012 “A Resource Opportunity – Waste Management Policy in Ireland” was launched with the aim of moving Ireland away from landfill and towards more waste reduction and recovery. Ireland is well on its way to meeting both the national targets and the EU recovery/recycling obligations but much more still needs to be done. We can all play our part in helping to meet these targets.
Useful information from www.mywaste.ie:
- What can I do to be more sustainable? Lots of information and videos about living a more sustainable life
- What to do with? Have something in your classroom or house you’re unsure about disposing of? This almost exhaustive list gives information on your reuse and recycling options for anything and everything
- What to do with my recycling: this page is a great refresher on what does and doesn’t go in the recycling bin. There are great informative videos on how our waste collection system works and also some leaflets in some of most commonly-spoken languages
- Waste Service Locator: Unsure about where you can recycle items or what services are provided in your area – this map has up-to-date information on your local waste services
- My Waste Ireland’s YouTube channel – great selection of videos you can show in the classroom or in your school’s assembly areas
Green-Schools are delighted to partner with Clothes Pod in 2021/2022. Clothes Pod is a guaranteed Irish company that promotes the reuse and re-ware of clothing. They are the number one collectors and exporters of second-hand clothing in Ireland and have over 1,200 Pods conveniently located nationwide. Clothes Pod ensures that clothing is collected efficiently, as well as recycled and repurposed correctly and their aim is to promote active recycling and reuse programmes in participating schools around Ireland. Clothing and textile production and disposal are a major source global pollution. In Ireland, most textiles end up in landfill and pose problems as some synthetic materials do not decompose and some natural materials emit methane during decomposition. Find out how your school can get involved here.
What You Can Do
The first thing you can do to reduce litter and waste is to take responsibility for your actions. The effects of litter and waste can be reduced if we work together, create imaginative solutions and spread the word. The following are just a few ideas to get you started and to help you and your school reduce your effect on the environment.
- Ask whether you really NEED the product before you buy
- Say NO to plastic bags, use reusable bags instead
- Buy products that have less packaging and highlight the issue to suppliers
- Use a lunchbox instead of cling film or tin foil and reusable drinks bottles
- Make sure you use the double sided facility on the photocopier
- Use waste paper for art or as scrap paper
- Re-use old bottles, jars and containers for storage or for use in art class
- Bring re-usable bags when you go shopping
- Swap clothes, books, video games and music with friends instead of throwing them away
- Know what you can/cannot recycle (waste collection companies may vary)
- Hazardous materials (oil, paint or batteries) should all be recycled
- Aim to buy products that are recycled
Useful Links, Projects and Key Resources
Litter and Waste Projects
- The Litter Less Campaign is an international anti-litter project for primary schools, which provides extra support and funding to schools working towards their first Green Flag. Further information for this academic year will be available shortly.
- The Neat Streets Campaign is an anti-litter and waste programme for secondary schools which helps participants run successful campaigns to stamp out litter and reduce waste in their school and community. Neat Streets guides schools through a number of stages from registration to awards and each school develops a specific model that will be effective for their school and environment. An Taisce provides ongoing support, training and equipment, click here to find out more.
Litter and Waste Resources
- Litter & Waste Seminar Presentation 2019/2020
- Waste Audit
- Waste Checklist
- Green-Schools Plastic Free Tips Booklet – English
- Green-Schools Plastic Free Tips Booklet – Irish
Sponsor and Supporters:
- Textile Recycling Ltd T/A Clothes Pod www.clothespod.ie/
- The Wrigley Company Ltd.
- Local Authorities
- National Spring Clean: http://www.nationalspringclean.org
- Stop Food Waste: www.stopfoodwaste.ie
- WEEE Recycle: http://www.weeerecycle.ie
- Free Trade Ireland: www.freetradeireland.ie
- EPA Waste: https://www.epa.ie/irelandsenvironment/waste
- RecycleIT: www.recycleit.ie (Free scheduled community collection service of waste electrical and electronic equipment operating in Dublin, Wicklow and Kildare)
- MyWaste: www.mywaste.ie