Leading the charge to make schools greener is the Green-Schools international environmental education programme and award scheme, run in Ireland by An Taisce. In Ireland, Green-Schools is operated in partnership with Local Authorities and has been a fully national programme since 2001. Internationally it is known as 'Eco-schools'.

The award part of the scheme comes in the form of a green flag - a now well respected and recognised eco-label. Usually if a school reaches this target, it displays the flag outside the school or in the foyer. To keep the school striving to reduce its environmental impact the green flag award requires renewal every two years.

There are seven steps to Green-School success:

  1. Green School Committee - a dedicated group within the school that oversees the Green-Schools project. Ideally it will involve students, teachers and parents.
  2. Environmental Review - an essential part of any waste management scheme, it lays out targets for the school.
  3. Action Plan - it gives achievable goals in a certain timed period.
  4. Monitoring and Evaluation - progress is chartered all the way so that new targets can be set and successes celebrated.
  5. Curriculum work - environmental issues should be integrated into lessons.
  6. Informing and involving - a marketing drive keeps the pupils, teachers and general community informed on progress.
  7. Green Code - this is the school’s commitment to good green habits.

Results of the scheme so far

Research in 2001 showed that those schools awarded with green flags, on average, took 45% of their waste away from landfill. A number of those schools were close to achieving no waste at all, with some producing as little as two grams of waste per person per day.

Further analysis carried out in 2005 showed that performance had improved again and on average Green-Schools were diverting over 60% of their waste from landfill. In an amazing achievement, 10% (eight schools) of the seventy-nine sampled were diverting in excess of 90% of their waste from landfill.

Most recently the programme is said to have saved Irish schools €2 million in waste costs per year, which includes: 3.7 million units of electricity; 200 million litres of drinking water; and around 500,000 litres of transport fuel. In total, twelve tonnes of waste has been diverted from landfills in Ireland every school day by schools undertaking the programme.

previousPrevious - Sustainable Tourism
Next - Green Businessnext