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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Greener schools: what parents can do

As a parent, you can help reduce the environmental impact of the school day. Actions you can take directly include thinking about how your child gets to school. You may also be able to influence school policy through active involvement you have with the school - like being a parent governor.

Getting to school

One of the main areas where you can have an effect is choosing how your child gets to school. Private car travel is a big source of carbon emissions, so finding alternative ways of getting to school will make a difference. Things you could do include:

  • try to use greener methods of transport – cycling, walking or public transport
  • nominate one day a week (or more) as a walk or cycle to school day
  • consider helping with a walking bus service for the school (a supervised walk to school scheme)
  • suggest that your school supplies pupils with secure cycle sheds and takes measures to ensure safe routes to school
  • if you have to travel by car, see if you can share with a neighbour or friend

Food and drink at school

Producing, transporting and consuming food is responsible for nearly a third of our impact on climate change. Choices about packed lunches, tuck shops and the canteen can help the environment - and can often have additional benefits for children's health:

  • suggest stocking fresh, locally in season or Fairtrade produce in the tuck shop or canteen
  • suggest, or offer to set up, a school fruit and vegetable garden; this could also provide many learning opportunities and links to the curriculum

Reducing waste at school

There are many opportunities to reduce waste at school. For example, you could encourage the school to:

  • set up recycling bins in the classroom and encourage pupils to recycle
  • reduce the amount of packaged goods in lunchboxes to cut down the amount of waste
  • use both sides of paper to reduce waste
  • set up a scheme to encourage pupils to pass on or sell old text books to other pupils once they've finished with them
  • consider setting up a compost bin at the school to reduce food waste
  • arrange a visit to a local landfill or recycling site so pupils can see what happens to their waste

Saving energy at school

Suggestions for saving energy in a school could include:

  • encouraging pupils to turn off lights and electronic equipment when they have finished using them
  • switching off computer monitors and printers properly instead of leaving them on standby
  • considering using energy saving light bulbs at the school, or even alternative energy sources for heating, like wind or solar power

For tips and fun activities on how to reduce energy further, see the Generation Green website.

Greener school schemes and plans

The Eco-Schools programme encourages schools to be greener by making various grants available to registered schools when making changes to improve the environment.

Travel schemes

The walk to school campaign lets schools register as a WoW school; this promotes walking to school once a week, with rewards for taking part.

Energy-saving schemes

  • the Energy Certification for Schools scheme helps schools save money on energy, reduce carbon emissions and improve the environment

Environmental education programmes

  • the Globe programme supports environmental education - children measure their school’s local environment, record results and compare their findings with schools from across the world

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