Thirty-two Clare schools successfully achieved Green Flag status for the academic year 2019/2020, as part of a nationwide rollout of awards in May which saw a total of 750 schools conferred with the honour.
School closures in March did little to fracture the discipline and dedication of teachers and students alike in submitting their final Green Flag application, the final milestone in a two-year journey of sustainable progress.
This year’s awards were accredited in the area of litter and waste, energy, water, travel, biodiversity and global citizenship. Clare schools enjoyed success in each of these categories. The Green Schools staff described these efforts as ‘both poignant and exceptional.’
Green Schools, internationally identifiable as Eco-Schools, is an educational programme specialising in environmental management predicated on an award scheme that fosters progressive efforts within schools to better the environment, operating in sixty-eight countries across the globe.
A total of 4,000 schools and 900,000 children are currently enrolled in the Green Schools Programme in Ireland, which is operated by An Taisce and a number of Government Departments. The programme runs as a seven-step process, whereby schools work through a hierarchical theme-based system, starting at litter and waste and finishing up with global citizenship. Successful implementation of the system leads to a Green Flag, which in turn must be renewed every two years.
The Green Schools Programme appraised the diligence of schools throughout the country this year, noting, “The collective efforts made by schools across Ireland culminated to impressive environmental savings across waste, energy, water, transport, and positive impacts were made towards biodiversity, global citizenship and the marine environment.”
This year, the Green Schools programme has been inundated with success, leaning on the support of statistics to show this progress to the world. Amongst other achievements, schools avoided 2,500 tonnes of waste that would have gone to landfill in 2020 and saved 592 million litres of water, 4.4 million litres of heating oil and 29 million units of electricity. In terms of biodiversity, one of the programmes most prominent themes, 2,799 native trees were personally planted by students.
Future celebrations are due to come to fruition in September when schools return, with the names of the thirty-two Clare schools to come to light along with a collection of celebratory flag raising events in connection with the newly acquired Green Flags.
To conclude, Green Schools Manager, Cathy Baxter acknowledged the success of all 750 schools nationwide, ““Well done to all the students and teachers all over the country who have worked so hard to achieve this award. Seeing the creativity and positivity of thousands of young people taking action to improve our environment is truly inspiring. Congratulations to everyone involved.”