Page 7 - Independent Schools Magazine
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  daunting. However, they often
do not realise that all the small things they are probably already doing can be recorded and celebrated. Once that initial audit has been carried out, it is fairly straightforward to establish an achievable Eco Action Plan.
As a school, we re-visit our Action Plan on an annual basis and discuss what we have achieved and how we can build on these achievements. We discuss what we were unable
to achieve and how we can approach things differently. We try to have a main focus every year - this year it is reducing
our plastic waste, which has proved to be quite controversial; however the media attention and the pressure from the students has been the driving force in pushing for a whole school ban on disposable water bottles. Young people today are naturally inclined towards saving our planet.
Initially you do need a ‘champion’ to spearhead the school’s eco campaign and to inspire others and, yes, you
do need to be determined
and tenacious. However, once other members of staff see how important this is to the young people they teach, it is dif cult not to jump on board. I have even heard of primary schools designing their entire curriculum around Eco Schools!
A commitment from the Senior Leadership Team is also needed in order to give credibility to whatever you are trying to achieve. The way to sell any
eco initiative to SLT is that it will end up saving the school money and will form a part in their Whole School Development Plan by satisfying the school’s Corporate Social Responsibility Policy.
We also try to surround ourselves with likeminded organisations, and try to in uence our stakeholders to follow our example. We are always looking for fun and innovative ways
to engage students and staff, from our bi-annual ‘Grub in a Tub’ competition – edible plants grown in containers ranging from guitars to suitcases - to our annual Trashion Show – make
an entire out t from recycled materials, including shredded paper, tin cans and household rubbish. Our gardening skills have been recognised in the local community through Colchester
in Bloom, the local agricultural show and further a eld in the Royal Horticultural Society’s school gardening competition.
We have won countless local, regional and national business awards for Environmental Awareness over the years and this is a really important way of sharing best practice – and our enthusiasm - with others for the bene t of the next generation.
Keen not to contribute any further to the high volumes
of plastic waste produced locally and globally, students at St Mary’s School have taken the decision to no longer use single-use plastic water bottles with packed lunches, choosing more environmentally-friendly re-usable containers instead.
The water bottle ban was suggested by the school’s student-led Eco Team, whose members are encouraging the student body to make use of re llable bottles. This is largely to reduce the number of plastic water bottles reaching land ll, but also to ensure
that students are not harmed by chemicals from over-used
bottles that can leak into drinking water.
St Mary’s Eco Schools Co- ordinator Mrs Sarah Wilding said: “After reading the Guardian article A million bottles a minute: world’s plastic binge ‘as dangerous as climate change’ our Eco Team felt compelled to act. The ban on single-use water bottles and our Eco Week events gives us the opportunity to send the message to the rest of the school community.
The students presented their research and ideas about how the whole school can get involved during a special assembly.”
Plastic water bottles banned
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Independent Schools Magazine 7

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