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Date: 20 August , 2010
Photo: Blackcatuk, Wikipedia
'A green school can inspire the whole community.'
Suzanne Elvidge wonders how green our schools can be
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It seems that no sooner have the schools broken up for the summer, that the evenings are starting to get shorter and the Back To School signs are all appearing in the shops (in fact, the Christmas decorations are already appearing).
It’s the beginning of a new school year – perhaps it’s time to see if your school is as eco as it could possibly be. A green school can inspire the whole community.
Where to begin?
Start by carrying out a green or environmental audit of the school, to see what has already been done and what still needs to be done. There are various green audits and checklists available free on the internet:
Reduce, reuse, recycle
The easiest way to begin as a green school is simply to start by reducing – think about where you can use less, whether it’s using less power by turning the lights and computers off at night or using less paper by not printing so much out and sending school letters by email.
The next step is to reuse. There are loads of things that can be made out of recycled rubbish – from the fun (fizzy drinks bottle penguins) through the fast (fizzy drinks bottle tractor) to the bird-friendly (milk carton bird feeder or nest box) and the useful (newspaper letter rack).
If your school needs extra materials for making recycled works of art, visit your local Scrapstore or find a local recycling group such as Freecycle or Freegle.
Finally recycle – send printer cartridges and mobile phones to Christian Aid for recycling (and fundraising), and set up places to recycle aluminium cans (crushing the cans first means that they take up less room).
Buy recycled as much as possible as well – the more demand there is for recycled goods, the more drive there will be to make recycling facilities available.
Grow your own
The best way to keep the food miles down is to grow your own, and teaching children to grow their own fruit and vegetables from seed will help them to learn about seasonal foods and healthy eating.
There’s always something that can be grown at school, however, much or little space is available – from salad leaves on the windowsill through vegetables in pots to an entire vegetable garden.
If the school hasn’t got a garden, grow potatoes in stacks of old tyres (add a new one every time the shoots come through) or make some recycled tyre planters and tomatoes in plastic milk containers.
Make a Scrooge bottle to water the plants and recycled plant labels to mark out the rows of seeds (or buy biodegradable wooden ones), and create a compost column to see how composting actually works.
Keep some space for a wild area, and grow some wild flowers from seed (flower bombs are a fun way to scatter the seeds) or plug plants to attract the birds and bees.