Streets covered in rubbish and dog dirt, animals endangered, shortages of energy and water, ravaged rainforests and a damaged ozone layer - these are just some of the environmental issues we are all faced with.
Some of these problems are harder to sort out than others. Stopping climate change and its consequences - rising sea levels, melting ice caps and droughts in some of the world’s poorest countries – is a daunting task and one that has all of our world leaders, top scientists and environmental experts scratching their heads to find a solution.
As an ordinary citizen it’s easy to feel helpless when thinking about the monumental problems threatening our planet.
But there is an environmental programme just for schools, which demonstrates to children and young people how making small efforts, like turning off the tap when brushing their teeth, can make a huge difference to their local community, their town or city, and eventually to the world as a whole.
Eco-Schools is a global programme, that encourages pupils and teachers to come up with fun, eco-friendly projects to help make their school a more pleasant place to be and reduce its impact on the environment.
Some of the imaginative environmental projects Eco-Schools has come up with include:
- Installing a wind turbine to produce some of the school’s electricity
- Building a nature garden in the school grounds with pond, bird boxes and a wormery
- Creating a vegetable patch and using the home-grown produce in cookery lessons
- Organising litter picking in and around the school grounds
Not only do Eco-Schools have a positive effect on school grounds and neighbouring communities, they also create caring young citizens who think about their impact on the world.
Many children think that recycling a piece of paper is a waste of time. But Eco-Schools shows youngsters that if a school-full of people recycle their paper, tonnes of trees are saved from the chop and the rainforest and its wildlife are protected.
Many Eco-Schools recycle over 50% of their waste. With 6,000 schools signed up in the UK alone, mounds of rubbish are being diverted from landfill sites.
Once signed up to the programme, a school must form an eco-committee of interested pupils and a teacher representative. The group meets regularly to discuss and agree on environmental projects to help achieve the programme’s Bronze, Silver and Green Flag awards.
Because children are given ownership of the programme they respond with greater enthusiasm and commitment. Many Eco-Schools have reported that pupil behaviour has improved, as the youngsters react positively to their new responsibilities.
And young people take the environmental lessons learnt at school, back home ensuring the message spreads to their parents and the wider community.
The programme can be incorporated into the curriculum with environmental issues and data from the school’s energy savings and projects, is being used in geography, science, citizenship and maths lessons.
Not only that, but Schools can apply for an Eco-Schools Switched on Communities grant of up to £5000 to further their eco-friendly projects.
So, what are you waiting for? Log-on to www.eco-schools.org for more information.