Green Flags - Sacred Heart Primary School Roscrea

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Green Flags

Here at the Sacred Heart Primary School we have a very strong commitment to sustainable living. We have five green flags, they are for conservation in the areas of Litter and Waste, Energy, Water, Travel and the study of Biodiversity. Respect for the world we live in, our environment and our natural resources is a priority for all of our school community.
We are currently working towards our sixth green flag for Global Citizenship, Litter and Waste. We are linking this to our Goal of Sacred Heart Education this year, Community. This is consolidating work we did while working on the Goal of Social Awareness last year. We work towards Partnership, Participation, Progress and in doing so we consider that we are both local and global, we are citizens of an ever changing world. In order to further our citizenship and as part of our ethos studies we are familiarising ourselves with the Global Goals. These goals set out by the United Nations aim to improve the Earth’s environment and, as a result, the lives of everyone who share it. We are for people and planet, we are for Global Goals.
We hope you will follow our Green School journey by keeping up to date with what we are doing here, on our twitter account  and on our Instagram sacredheartroscrea.

Here are ourpupil members of the current Green Schools Committee. They aim to meet weekly to discuss our plan for working towards our Global Citizenship flag.
These are the broad priorities they have;
Educating ourselves and everyone in our school about-
Making our school environment greener, what that means and how we do it
Litter and proper recycling, getting it right
Plastics, the threat to the environment and what we can do

Learning about the Global Goals
As we do this we will also take part in initiatives we have as part of our annual school lives such as, the Team Hope Christmas Shoebox appeal, our activities as part of our Junior Tidy Towns project and tracking the seasons. We will also be keeping up to date with progress in issues environmental and discussing how we can play our part in telling everyone about the good environmental news stories.
You can follow developments in Global Goals on twitter at, or take a look here, on their website.

Some of our senior classes learned about the Worlds Largest Lesson. They watched the following clips, one from Malala introducing the World's Largest Lesson, here - and an introduction from Emma Watson and Sir Ken Robinson please, have a look - We hope you take the time to look at them too.

Did you know that Pope Francis is an environmentalist? In his latest encyclical, Laudato Si' "On Care For Our Common Home" he told us that we have made a pile of filth out of the Earth. He didn't hold back there did he?  He told us to put on our boots and work to improve the planet. The effects of our abuse of the Earth, he said, are having a terrible effect on the people of the planet, especially the poor. He has instructed us to "Heed the cry of the Earth and heed the cry of the poor." So that is what we are about and that is why being a Green School is part of our Ethos as a Catholic School and a Sacred Heart School.

You can watch Laudato Si' here,
we used it as our starting point to give us a framework for our planning and our work.

During our meetings of the Green Schools' Committee in November the children discussed COP23. Here's a link to inform you about COP 23 -

There is a COP (Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change) meeting every year since the Kyoto Agreement in 1992. The meeting this year is in Bonn, Germany and it is the 23rd of its kind. This year Fiji, an island nation in the Pacific, presided over the meeting. Climate change and global warming are really important issues for low lying island nations like Fiji because as sea levels rise when global warming happens their islands can be flooded and remain underwater.


If a tiny nation like Fiji can show leadership on a global issue like climate change then a small community like ours can play its part in helping to reduce greenhouse gasses. Here are ten ways we can all help -

In summary these are
1. Reduce, reuse and recycle
2. Use less heat
3. Replace your lightbulbs, use long life CFL bulbs instead
4. Drive less/drive smart
5. Buy energy efficient products
6. Use less hot water
7. Use the off-switch
8. Plant a tree
9. do an energy audit, maybe your energy provider can do one for free for you.
10. Encourage others to conserve

Here are some symbols of energy conservation you will see when you shop for appliances and electrical goods. They will help you make informed decisions about the energy efficiency of products you buy. Remember, the better the energy efficiency, the better the product is for the planet and it will be cheaper for you in the long run.

During the year our Committee will be encouraging recycling at home and in school. We will be joining forces with Weee Ireland, to recycle batteries, this battery collection will also benefit LauraLynn Ireland so it is doubly beneficial. If you have old batteries at home please send them into school. We will gladly make sure they are disposed of in a responsible way. Batteries should never be dumped in landfill they are highly toxic, please think before you dump.

During November we also discussed Green Energy, the use of solar power and wind generated power. These energies are considered to be green, or good energies as they use natural resources from the earth, light and wind to generate electricity. This means that no fumes, residues or dirty waste is made when this type of resource is used. This is very good for the planet itself and the health of the people who live on it. There have been great strides made in the area of green or renewable energy and we will be keeping up to date on these too. You can learn more about Green Energy here

Here's an article from Damian Carrington, Environment editor with The Guardian about the seven megatrends that could beat global warming, "There is reason for hope" for some good news!

During November our Committee watched this

The video from the BBC shows the problem with plastic pollution and the lack of respect for the Oceans and the animals living in them. This plastic was thrown away, not put into recycling bins, not put into any bins, simply thrown away. The Committee decided that if we did not buy the plastic, especially single use plastic objects to start with, then the likelihood of them ending up in the Ocean and endangering animals would be avoided altogether. Ms Carey then discussed this with all the teachers at a staff meeting and it was decided that reusable drinking containers would be purchased and these can be used by the children once the drinking water only taps are installed in each classroom. We are delighted that everyone will move away from single use plastic bottles during school time. This is a small step for us to reduce our use of plastic and a big step towards educating everyone in the drive towards sustainability and a cleaner environment for all.

Sky Broadcasting are running a campaign called They are using their high profile to draw attention to the damage that plastic is doing in the Oceans. They are sponsoring a boat called TurnTheTideOnPlastic in the to highlight their efforts. We will be following them on twitter as they gather valuable sea plastic pollution data while they race. Please follow them on your twitter account or follow our school twitter account to see how they are doing and how we are promoting our Green plan.  Please note this video will not cheer you up. The children did not watch this, you have the option of watching it here. This piece of film shows the problem of single use plastic and the poor attitude to litter in other countries. We aim to improve the attitude of the children in our school towards sustainability, their use of materials and their positive attitude towards recycling litter and reducing waste.

The Green School Committee watched this short video - about where plastic ends up when it is not recycled and the dangers it poses to wildlife.

We also looked at this video - about the potential distance plastic can travel when it is dumped into the Ocean, the Ocean because it is all one big mass of water. It highlights how actions in one area of the world can have a knock on effect on environments, people and animals in other areas of the world. It brings it home to us that, although we are living in a small town in Ireland we are also global citizens.

Here is a link to Jennifer Lavers organisation if you would like more information about her work

During our first Green School Committee meeting in December we discussed the problem with glitter. Glitter, like microplastics, is so small that it goes through the water filtration process without being filtered out. It continues through the water cycle and eventually reaches the sea. This is bad news for the sea creatures who take it into their bodies through their mouths or their gills. We would like to prevent this happening by not using it at all. The committee members returned to their classrooms and respectfully requested that glitter no longer be used in our school. We are delighted to announce that everyone agreed to this request and we are now a glitterfree zone. We know some of our school community love glitter and are very sorry that they will no longer be using it but it is better for the environment and we thank you for your sacrifice. Our new hashtag #NoBlueNoGreen reflects the respect we are affording our Ocean, our efforts to improve it and our gratitude for what it does for our planet and, in turn its people. Here is a link to an article which discusses the issue -

Thank you to Ms Considine for the prompt on this one. We salute her dedication to and love for the environment!

This very theme was the topic of the Dr Sylvia Earle lecture at the Natural History Museum in London this week. Here is a link to the lecture When you read it you will see the importance of the Ocean to the planet and its people. Our Green School Committee are going to read the lecture and discuss it further next week.

We are also requesting everyone in our school to think twice before wrapping gifts this Christmas. Most presents are already boxed and presented nicely so, do we really need another layer of packaging on them? If another layer is needed, please ensure that it is responsibly recycled.

Speaking of which, we also discussed the new household recycling list, here is a link to help you update your recycling efforts In the run up to Christmas we will be asking all the children in our school to bring this list to the attention of their parents so that we can all play our part in keeping our planet clean and green.

The Committee also discussed this photo

This photo was taken by Justin Hofman, it illustrates the issues of pollution in our ocean. A seahorse has no need for a cottonbud. The cottonbud is pollution, irresponsibly dumped in the ocean. We discussed the saying that 'You should never put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear' and so wondered if cottonbuds are necessary at all. Clodagh described a video clip she had seen in research for this discussion which convinced us that we really do not need to be putting cottonbuds in our ears, suffice to say they do more harm than good, we'll spare you the gorey details. Then we discussed responsible disposal of plastics, recycling in a proper bin, not in the general rubbish, NEVER burning, NEVER throwing away in the outdoors, recycling in the correct bin. Images like this, while disturbing, highlight the need for education about sustainability and recycling. We hope everyone in our school community thinks carefully about buying well, using wisely and recycling responsibly. This image of the seahorse grasping a cottonbud has been selected as a finalist in the Natural History Meseum's Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.

Emma, our representative from 4th class told us all about her visit to the Ecovillage in Cloughjordan. Emma described to us the process of making apple juice which she saw. Apples from trees in the village are pressed and bottled onsite making them a zero carbon product. The bottles can be reused or recycled when the juice is finished. Emma also outlined the Ocean concerns that the members of the eco village share with our committee. We also heard about chocolate which is made at the village and wrapped in paper, this is preferable to other wrappings as it can be recycled. Finally Emma described paper cups and paper straws which are used in preference to other products as they can be recycled once used. Thank you to Emma for this great contribution to our meeting, we really appreciate you sharing your knowledge with us.

During the final meeting of December our members discussed the good news that during the week over 200 countries that make up the United Nations have pledged to take steps to protect the ocean. They have signalled the end of throwaway plastics which is good news for the environment. We will continue to track the progress TurnTheTideOnPlastic is making in the Volvo Ocean Race while collecting valuable information on plastic pollution. The more we know about the problem the more we can do about it. As usual we will keep everyone in our community up to date on matters environmental during the holidays by tweeting important developments. During this meeting we discussed our plans for next term and the new year, especially tracking our litter in each classroom.

We would like to wish everyone in our community a very happy and sustainable Christmas. Do remember to reduce, reuse and recycle during the holidays. Here's an article from Trocaire on why it's a really good idea

Happy New Year! On January 12th our Green School Committee had their first meeting of the new year. We discussed our new years green resolutions and have resolved to be steadfast in our efforts to learn about and take action about litter and waste. We will also continue to work on being good citizens - good global citizens, who consider the effects our actions have on the planet and its people.
Fourth and Fifth Class were learning about rivers and seas in class this week and their representatives gave us a rundown on what they had learned. We saw some distressing photos of litter in rivers, sewage in rivers and beaches with dead birds on them. We discussed how these can all happen and what we can do to ensure none of our actions lead to any of these outcomes. As a result of this we are going to monitor our classroom bins very carefully to ensure all rubbish goes in the appropriate bin. We are also going to ask that everyone in our school community takes home packaging that they bring to school and recycle it there so that we can keep school rubbish to a minimum. We are also reminding everyone that they can bring their used batteries into school so that we can recycle them.
Our Senior Infant members of the committee told us about the project they are doing on the Antartic. They are learning all about this very special environment where penguins live. We heard from them about the effects that global warming are having on the Poles - North and South. The knock on effect of melting polarcaps and rising sea levels which mean flooding in low lying countries. We discussed this previously during COP23 when we heard from Fiji about the damage being done there to eco-systems and homes. We then discussed how we use and respect energy, especially fossil fuels which contribute to global warming. We identified how we, in our daily lives can be more mindful in our use of energy - turning off lights, turning down thermostats and turning off heating and electrical gagets when we are not using them. The limits of this approach were also discussed, for example - unplugging x-boxes, playstations and sky television boxes causes them to log out and 'forget' settings which is problematic. Nonetheless we are going to ensure that everyone in our school is aware of energy saving measures in order to play our part in decreasing global warming and improving the outlook for the North and South Poles and the animals which live there.

Here's a link to this petition if you would like to get involved in the efforts Greenpeace are making to creating a sanctuary at the Antartic the pengiuns will thank you!

We also heard from Damien about a YouTube video he had watched about saving fuel while driving versus wasting fuel while driving.

At our final Green School Committee meeting in January we discussed our move to reusable plastic bottles. We are taking a #passonplastic and in order to stop the use of single use plastic bottles every day in our school everyone now has a reusable bottle. We have calculated that if each of our 127 pupils used the single use plastic bottle they were given each of the 183 days of the school year that amounted to 23,241 disposable bottles. That amount of plastic bottles being thrown away or being recycled was not sustainable. As we are all about sustainability we now have our reusable bottles, which can be recycled at the end of their usability. We think this is a great result for the environment and we are really grateful to everyone who has made this move possible. Thank you to the school community, give yourselves a pat on the back.

Clodagh did a project in her spare time about the Volvo Ocean Race which we have been following. She told us about what she saw on the Sky documentary on TurnTheTideOnPlastic, the Sky sponsored ship which competed in the race and what they found in the ocean. The findings from the ship and the documentaries we have seen in recent weeks about the state of the ocean have been truly shocking. We are raising awareness of this so we can encourage more people to think about their decisions about what they buy and how they dispose of it when they are finished with it. Clodagh talked us through her project which was of great interest to us all, thank you Clodagh.

We discussed the idea of Global Citizenship. Firstly we discussed citizenship, what it means to us and how we can become better citizens. Then we discussed the global element of the phrase and also discussed the implications of this for us and our green school project. Here are some things we are going to work on –
Respect for all, we will be a rights respecting school.
Respect for the environment, we need to think responsibly and act sustainably.
Consider our part in local and global issues, we are both local and global, we are citizens of a changing world, we must be active agents for good in  our world.

We discussed litter in our school, our daily rubbish and how we dispose of it in our classroom bins. We looked at photographic evidence of how bins were used during the week. We will be promoting proper use of the bins and encouraging everyone in our school community to reduce the amount of litter they create. We will ask children who bring wrappings etc on their lunch into school to bring these home again to create an awareness amongst parents/guardians about the amount of rubbish that their child can create. We will, beginning next week, keep a log of how much rubbish is being generated in our classrooms and whether or not it is being disposed of correctly.

These are the Junior Infants bins, they were the best on the junior corridor, well done Juniors and Mrs Ryan! We hope everyone can rise to your standard! We gave them a round of applause and congratulated their representatives on our committee, everyone else will have to pull up their socks!
We discussed @PlanetVision, who we are now following on twitter. It is an initiative by a group of American scientists who are promoting practical ways of helping the planet, they – like us, are interested in sustainability in the areas of food, water and energy. These are topics we discuss regularly so we wish them well and we will be following with interest.

At our first February meeting our committee discussed the amount of rubbish we generate and how we can create awareness of this amoung everyone - students, teachers and parents/guardians. We decided that we would ask everyone to bring home the rubbish they bring to school. This would create an awareness amongst the pupils and parents and it would decrease the amount of rubbish we generate as a school. Following this the teaching staff discussed this suggestion at a staff meeting and have very kindly agreed to support this effort. It has been reported that there was a great decrese in the volume of rubbish in the bins. We also discussed whether the bins in each room were being used for the same reason and used correctly. Again this was discussed at the staff meeting and clarification arrived at. We will change our charts to reflect the changes of use for bins as a result. We will also reinforce our efforts to turn off lights and close doors when we leave the room.

February 10th is plant a tree day. Marton, one of our youngest members told us he has the seed of an sycamore tree at home that he is going to plant. We wished him well and we hope this is just one of many trees he plants in his lifetime as an environmentalist and guardian of nature. We are all looking forward to planting our school oak tree for the celebrations of the bicentennial of St Rose Philippine Duchesne. We are also looking forward to our school grounds being finished and lots of trees and flowers being planted there.

We discussed a DRS, a direct refund scheme whereby more would be charged for anything in a plastic bottle or a single use plastic container but this extra would be refunded when the plastic is brought to a refund centre. We thought it was a good idea but ultimately we would like to see a move away from plastic altogether.
Here are some suggestions for sustainability from the Oceans Team at Greenpeace that we discussed this week

  • promote a direct refund scheme

  • bring your own shopping bag every time you shop

  • carry a reusable bottle

  • refuse plastic straws

  • try to do your food shopping as plastic free as possible

  • use loose tealeaves, there's plastic in teabags

  • use paper stemmed cotton buds if you must use cotton buds

  • use bee or vegan wax papaer instead of clingfilm of tinfoil

Yes, we were shocked and horrified that there is plastic in teabags, Willie may never get over it...
Emma showed us paper straws and told us that we can get them in Mr Price. Ms Carey showed us paper lunch bags made here in Roscrea that we can use instead of clingfilm and tinfoil. We are a solutions green school committee!

Finally we discussed the Climate Emergency measures bill which was passed during the week. This stops the extraction os fossil fuels in Ireland and as such puts an end to the practice of fracking which is not good for the environment. This, we concluded, was a good day for the environment.

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