St. Francis’ School, Portlaoise, Co. Laois is a school for children with mild learning difficulties with 2 special classes for children with moderate learning difficulties. There are 100 students and 10 teachers at St. Francis’.
The committee comprises 4 students (aged 13 to 17 years), the Principal, 3 teachers, caretaker, and cook. Members were chosen who were interested and available during school time for meetings. Students were selected by staff because of their positive and active response to the Green-Schools programme in the school. The committee meets monthly and the minutes of the meetings are recorded by a teacher. Assemblies are used to inform the whole school of Green-Schools issues and make announcements on achievements or problems encountered.
After the committee was selected, the school carried out a detailed litter survey over the course of a week. Two people from each class went outside and collected all the litter from outside the school. Photographs were taken of the litter. The litter was then sorted into different types.
The following materials were collected: plastic, paper, cardboard, foil, bottles (plastic and glass), cartons (juice and milk), cans, yoghurt cartons, crisp bags, sweet papers, banana skins, orange peels, straws, batteries. A chart was made to show the different amounts of each type of litter found. All the litter collected over the week was weighed giving a total of 1½kg. About ¾ of all the litter was plastic wrappers, bottles and straws.
The measures implemented by St. Francis’ to reduce litter and waste, include:
Composting organic kitchen waste.
Rota for cleaning of cartons collected for recycling.
Litter wardens to monitor litter situation.
Monitoring number of bags for shredding.
Recycling of mobile phones, ink cartridges, batteries and stamps.
Counting number of waste and recycling bins each week.
The chief litter warden (student) reports to class teacher if there are problems with litter in the playground or in school building. The students remind each other to turn off lights, turn off taps, close doors, etc. Students carried out a survey of waste in their homes and the results were posted in graphical format on their Green-Schools notice board. The senior students visited the recycling plant in Mountmellick to see what happens to the materials they have collected for recycling.
For Art & Craft, students have used waste materials to make picture frames, toys, mosaics, calendars, greeting cards, log cabin models, puppets and puppet theatre. Short recordings have also been made on video of various recycling activities in the school.
St. Francis’ have been successful in reducing their waste going to landfill by 70%. As a result of all their hard work on litter and waste, St. Francis’ were awarded their first Green Flag in 2005.