Things to do for Climate Action Week 2019
It’s Climate Action Week next week! Every Green-Schools theme helps to either mitigate or adapt to climate change in some way and here’s some ideas on how your school can get involved…
Litter & Waste
Zero Waste Lunch
Create posters, deliver intercom announcements and present sustainable alternatives to single use plastic at your school assembly . These might include lunch boxes or paper bags instead of tin foil, cling film or plastic food bags. If you have a school magazine or website, write a feature piece on how to make a #ZeroWasteLunch. Secondary schools could talk to their canteen or local shops and petition them to provide a plastic free student lunch deal and encourage the switch to compostable plant-based packaging or give a discount/loyalty points if you bring your own cup, cutlery and lunch box or refill container. Primary schools could send home information to parents, encouraging them to buy ‘nude foods’ without packaging and run a classroom competition for the ‘best bin award’ – the staff room could join in on this one too to lead by example in the #PlasticFreeChallenge! (Or #Plexit, as inspired by Beech Hill, College, Monaghan, on Twitter)
Zero Power Hour
Have a Zero Power Hour where your school gives up everything that uses energy (if possible) – from computers and phones to lights and even heating – wrap up well, go out and be in nature or go back to basics in the classroom with environmental books! Educate your school community on renewable energy: the long term economic and environmental benefits. Some ideas include a sponsored race, recycled fashion show, raffle, book swap and teachers v students match. Organise training for school management to get them on board by having your statistics researched and show the payback timelines for schools with renewable technology.
Ban the Bottle
Phase out plastic bottles in your school. Approach the Parent’s Committee, the Student Council and the Board of Management to support you and ban single use plastic bottles. If your school gets lunch delivered then talk to the supplier and petition them to provide once-off reusable bottles and install filtered water taps in each classroom or hallway instead of single use plastic bottles. If your lunch provider won’t switch to reusable bottles then you could fundraise or ask a local business or even your county council to subsidise the cost of the school bottles. Every class that stops using single use plastic bottles saves over 5,000 bottles a year! Try to harness the cool factor with branded, personalised or DIY design bottles. Target your schools’ sports teams with branded bottles for matches. (Check out the comments on our Facebook post to see some schools’ experience of switching to reusable bottles)
The 2016 Census showed that 60% of primary students and 43% of secondary students still travel by car to school. 10% of primary students and 28% of secondary students use public transport, while 24% of primary students and 21% of secondary students walk to school. Cycling or walking to school ensures you are awake and alert, able to concentrate when you arrive at school and it also enables you to get some exercise in your day which is good for your physical and mental health. If your school is working on the Travel or Global Citizenship Travel theme, next week might be a good time to launch or relaunch your WOW/COW/SOW Days or begin planning meetings to do so before mid-term. We know that many schools face challenges when encouraging active travel to school – next week might be a good time to link up with your assigned Travel Officer to discuss doing walkability/cyclability audits to identify where improvements can be made to make the journey to school a pleasant one!
If you’re currently working on the Biodiversity theme you might consider planting some native Irish trees to assist with absorbing our emissions and help winter flood alleviation for years to come, or start a small hedgerow for our beautiful nesting birds or sow some wildflower seeds to help our precious pollinators. Class projects could include making a bird feeder or bird bath to provide enough food and water for these animals during winter or, on a larger scale, install a pond (or a mini pond using an old upside-down bin lid!) to provide places for insects and amphibians (frogs, toads and newts) to lay their eggs – changes to our climate means that there are often not enough wetland areas for animals that rely on water for their lifecycles. You could also make some hibernation homes for animals like hedgehogs and frogs using piles of old logs and leaves.
Other ideas (available in the Event Organisers Guide)
Climate Conversation (& CAKE!)
Explore the topic of climate change together with some tea and cake – you don’t need to be an expert to find out the basics! Use our Climate Conversations Guide to consider how climate change might affect you, your school and community, and more importantly, what you can do to mitigate and adapt to a changing climate.
Put together a short presentation on climate change, climate science or climate solutions – just make sure it’s relatable and then show it to as many people as you can! Use our prezi on Climate Science 101 for some fun facts, videos and interesting infographics.
There are some fantastic films and documentaries out there that address the theme of climate change, so put the popcorn on and host an open screening! How about Naomi Klein’s ‘This Changes Everything’ (2015), Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘Before the Flood’ (2016) or Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Sequel’ (2017)? If catering for a younger audience, Disney’s Moana (2016) is a good place to start and there are also some excellent videos from ‘Our Climate, Our Future’.