Green Schools

Ballyea NS are working towards their third Green Flag. We are hoping to receive our Water flag in the coming months.

Our school has earned two Green Flags in the last number of years.

The first flag we received was for ‘Litter and Waste’. The Green Team worked very hard promoting recycling and reusing of materials and waste. We have recycling bins and a compost bin for pencil toppings in all the classrooms. We encourage the use of lunch boxes with tightly closing lids instead of wrapping sandwiches in tinfoil or cling film. Another good idea is to use bottles that can be washed out every day and reused for the children’s drinks. Cartons create a lot of waste in the bin.

At school we shred our waste paper and it is used for animal bedding. We collect batteries for recycling also. We are currently collecting old mobile phones. If we collect a certain number we can apply to swap the old phones for a defibrillator for our school. This is a very worthwhile investment so if you have any old phones that you are finished with, please send them in.

In school all the teachers are encouraged to use two sides a sheet when photocopying and to use recycled paper where possible.

At home we encourage everyone to wash out all plastic, tin and tetra pack containers and put them in the recycling bin. Another idea for home is to invest in a composter for your old fruit and vegetable waste.

The second flag we received was for the ‘Energy’ theme. Again the Green team got together and briefed all the classes on effective ways of saving energy.

We have ‘Power Rangers’ in every class. They are responsible for turning off the lights every time we leave the classrooms. They also ensure the computers are switched off when we are finished with them. We close the doors in the classrooms as we leave to keep the heat in, and save on energy and radiator usage.

A big energy guzzler is the IWB and we encourage the teachers to be mindful of this.

At home we recommend turning off the lights in vacant rooms and keeping the thermostat on your heating system at a medium level. When filling the kettle, fill it appropriately ie small amount for only one cup of tea, a larger amount for four people having tea.

During the process of working towards the energy flag, 5th class visited a windmill farm to see a renewable source of energy.

For the past number of months we have been working towards our third Green Flag. The theme of this flag is water and how to conserve it.

This is currently a very topical issue with the recent introduction of water bills, meters and Irish Water.

We are working through our action plan, which is a list of a number of improvements we can make in the school and community to conserve water.

To ensure we receive our next flag and hold on to our previous two flags we have to continue working on the Litter and Waste theme and also the Energy theme.

The new theme of Water will be incorporated with the previous themes.

Initially we did a recheck on all the bins in each classroom. We made sure the ‘litter wardens’ are still collecting litter from the yard after lunch and counting the pieces. We have a traffic light system in place and if the litter wardens count 5 or less pieces of litter, it’s a green star, 5-10 pieces of litter it’s an orange star, 10 and over it’s a red star. If we get too many read stars, no treats are allowed on a Friday.

We elected two ‘Power Rangers’ for each classroom and reminded them of their duties.

All classes have been briefed on the water theme and why we need to conserve it.

Of all the water on our planet only 1% is assessable for drinking water.

Leak detectives are now working hard in each classroom on the look out for leaks.

We have sent home water conservation tips to all families. All classrooms have a list of tips to conserve water in the classroom.

They are as follows:

Turn off the taps fully- after use
Check for any leaking taps
Don’t leave the tap running.
Use a basin when washing up art materials.
Scrape off paint before washing out trays.
Re use water for washing desks.
Spend less time washing your hands.
Be a leak detective- always on the look out for dripping water

Two members of the Green team have read the water meter in September so we will be aiming to reduce our water consumption figures.

Our work towards the water flag includes setting up the Green team, an audit of the schools taps, sinks and toilets, using food colouring to check for leaks in the cistern and toilet bowl, displacing water in the cisterns using an old milk bottle in order to use less water. We will be investigating the lifecycle of water in and out of Ballyea school.

Check out our Green schools notice board for up to date news on our progress and lots of photos of our work so far.

Fourth class did an experiment below to check if we need to leave the tap running when we brush our teeth. We collected all the unused running water as Alison brushed her teeth with the tap flowing. We collected a full basin and then we filled containers to measure the amount of water collected. We filled 32 containers.

We then asked Emma to pick one of the containers and use only this to brush her teeth. She wet her brush and washed her brush and teeth using only one container of water. This proved that it a much better idea to turn off the tap as you brush your teeth.

Energy workshops:

In other news 1st class, 4th class and 5th class participated in Energy workshops in November with Aine Ni Fhlatharta. Aine is from seedsavers and works with schools across Munster. She promotes the conservation of Energy. The feedback received from the children was very positive. They had a super day and learned lots of new information about energy. During the day they did science experiments, played Energy games and discussed numerous energy topics ie renewable and non renewable energy. It was a very worthwhile workshop and we hope the children take home some of the ideas they learned and put them into practise.

Ballyea NS Top Tips for Water Conservation

Water Plants with pre-used water, eg water used for washing veg
Use a water butt outside to collect rainwater for cisterns and plants
Don’t run the tap while brushing your teeth
Check leaky taps and cisterns
Insert a low flow shower head and ‘restrictors’ on your tap
Don’t fill up the kettle for one cup of tea/coffee
Don’t use the dish water or washing machine unless they are full
Cool drinking water in a fridge jug, to avoid running the tap to get a ‘cool’ drink
Use a displacement device in your cistern …a filled plastic water bottle….to use less water when flushing
Take shorter showers
When washing dishes by hand , don’t let the water run. Fill a basin.
Designate one glass for your drinking water each day, or refill a water bottle. This will cut down on the number of glasses to wash.