Initially students from 3rd class to 6th class were chosen after writing a letter to the principal and co-ordinator explaining as to why they should be on the committee. As the programme progressed students from 1st and 2nd class, as well as infants, were selected to act as "green leaders" to help their classmates to use the bins properly. A parent representative, as well as a member of the tidy towns committee, were also on the Green-Schools committee. For the first term the committee met once a week for an hour, until the Action Plan was up and running. From that time they met for just 20 minutes every Tuesday morning to review progress and discuss problems and potential solutions.
For their review the students of Templetuohy N.S. weighed and examined the contents of their wheelie-bin after one week, as well as doing a detailed litter survey of the whole school. Results obtained were then graphed by students and displayed.
The Action Plan developed from the results of this environmental review was split into several goals, including:
"eliminating lunch waste from wheelie-bin" – through composting organic waste, reusing plastic bottles, banning tin-foil and caprisun, monitoring through lunch surveys,
"making the school yard a litter-free zone" – litter survey, placing new bins in yard, follow-up litter survey,
"eliminate paper and card from wheelie-bin" – purchase shredder, box for paper to be shredded and box for paper to be reused in each class, photocopy both sides (staff).
For monitoring and evaluation, waste and recycling are weighed weekly and bottles counted. Results are graphed and displayed. Improvements were found in all areas. Some solutions to problems included pictures instead of labels on the bins for the younger classes, to insure students understood what went into each bin. The new bins in the yard are also working well, as is the composting. A change in tactics may be required to encourage teachers to photocopy on both sides more often! The bin in the field also needed to be brought in by night as it was being vandalised. Littering of the school grounds by second level students was also an issue.
The benefits of the Green-Schools programme for Templetuohy N.S. included:
School and schoolgrounds almost litter free,
Students co-operating and working together
Parents taking an interest
Reduction in landfill waste from 15kg to 1.6kg per week! (90% reduction!!)
Students have learned to recycle, what to recycle and to use the organic waste bins