Scoil Bhríde, Lexlip, Co. Kildare is a 12 teacher school with 250 students. Scoil Bhríde’s committee has representatives, chosen by teachers, from 1th to 5th class. The fortnightly meetings are co-ordinated by staff teachers, and regular consultation is made with the principal and school caretakers. Class representatives report back decisions made to their classmates, and occasionally committee members will address the whole school at assemblies.
For their environmental review it was found that paper accounted for ¾ of all waste leaving the classrooms daily. Students and staff also carried out simple surveys on attitudes relating to litter and waste. A lunch survey was also carried out highlighting streams of waste that could be reduced at source, and litter surveys identified ‘grot spots’ located within the school grounds. Using this information, the ‘Litter Busters’ and Wardens target these areas when on litter duty, working in teams of four and recording the amount of litter collected daily.
For their Action Plan, Scoil Bhríde decided to focus on small achievable targets, including paper recycling and setting up a composting system. Targets were divided into three broad categories; waste minimisation, litter reduction, and improving the school environment.
For monitoring the weight of composted collected weekly was measured for the school year 2004-5 (with a total of 203kg). The amount of photocopying has also been reduced (through increased awareness and photocopying on both sides), and there has been a significant reduction in waste going to landfill. As mentioned above, litter is monitored daily, providing much useful information. A survey was also conducted about recycling and environmental attitudes at home, showing that 90% of those surveyed reused shopping bags, but that the majority didn’t have a compost heap.
Informing and involving included the use of school assemblies, a Green-Schools notice board (with litter duty rotas, photographs, and general information), correspondence with environmental organisations, and a website dedicated to "Our Green Campaign", accessible by any computer in the school. The school newsletter was also used to update parents and families. For their "Day of Action" the committee and teachers came up with a variety of activities to complete right from the junior to the senior end of the school (e.g. litter survey, clean-up, art construction with recycled materials, nature walk etc.), as well as inviting a special guest to talk to the whole school at assembly.
The Green Code was finalised by the committee using suggestions from the students, and displayed on the Green-Schools noticeboard. It states the school’s commitment to environmentally friendly actions and reflects the activities outlined in their action plan.
Scoil Bhríde found that overall the Green-Schools project greatly benefited not only the school environment, but also the whole school ethos, helping to boost self-esteem and giving students a greater sense of identity and belonging within the school.