Our Green-Schools Committee 2023-2024
Our Green-Schools Committee is composed of staff and pupil representatives from the school. Our pupils applied for the position and two representatives from each class from 3rd to 6th were selected to fulfil the important roles.
6th– Chrissy & Olivia
5th – Elyssa & Laoighse
5th – Rory & Jack
4th – Alice & Abbie
4th – Lucie & Isabel
3rd – Zen & Emma
3rd – Emma & Ted
Our Green-Schools committee have been very busy working towards our Biodiversity Flag which we hope to obtain this year. We aim to increase awareness of the importance of native plants, animals and habitats in our school and surrounding environments. Our hope is to increase species-richness in the school and locality of Carraig na bhFear through building and protecting habitats for our plants and animals.
What is Biodiversity?
Biodiversity is the variety of all living things and their interactions.
This includes the variety of animals, plants, fungi, and even microorganisms like bacteria that make up our natural world. Each of these species and organisms work together in ecosystems, like an intricate web, to maintain balance and support life.
Biodiversity supports everything in nature that we need to survive: food, clean water, medicine, and shelter.
Why is biodiversity so important and why should we conserve it?
A high level of diversity among plants, animals and all living things is essential for maintaining a healthy functioning environment, fit for human life. This includes diversity within species, between species and diversity of ecosystems.
We rely on living things to provide some of the most important needs in our daily lives; from the wooden beams that keep our homes standing, to the cotton fibres in our clothes, and from the oxygen that we breath to the food on our plates. We interact with and have an impact on living things, directly and indirectly every day through our lifestyles; e.g. the food we choose to eat or how we manage our gardens. Being aware of this interaction, and making choices to support wildlife and our natural environments is very important.
Have a look at some videos to learn a little more about biodiversity.
Biodiversity and our food chain What is Biodiversity & Its Importance? Environmental Science for Kids | Educational Videos by Mocomi (youtube.com)
Biodiversity explanations for younger children: What is biodiversity? | Biodiversity for Kids | Biodiversity meaning | What does biodiversity mean (youtube.com)
Our Green Code
“Trees are Treasures, treasure them!” We learned that trees are the lungs of planet. They convert carbon dioxide to oxygen and purify our air. Trees are a key element to help reduce our green-house gases and limit global warming.
In addition, trees also provide shelter for other plants and animals. They provide homes and food for birds and other wildlife, such as squirrels. Insects and bugs also life on the bark and leaves of the trees.
Deciduous trees also provide further benefits when they shed their leaves which can be utilised to make compost and humus.
Trees really are our treasures!
Mr. Hanafin's 4th Class recited a lovely poem to highlight the important role that trees play on planet Earth.
Erica from 4th Class recited this lovely poem "Kindness to Animals" outlining the importance of caringor animals in our community. Kindness to Animals (youtube.com)
Our Green-Schools Noticeboard
What have we done in Scoil an Athar Tadhg?
Mr. Hanafin built beautiful bird boxes from recycled wood and pallets from our old school. This is a fantastic addition to our new school grounds. It will be great shelter for our many different species of bird in Carraig na bhFear.
We created a habitat map to identify the plants, animals, and insects in our school and then we developed an action plan to increase our biodiversity and biodiversity awareness around our school and wider community.
Have a look at our video: https://youtu.be/mDgZRCD0Uuc
We planted wildflower gardens, grasses daffodils, tulips and heathers
We want to attract more pollinators to our local area.
Have a look at our video: https://youtu.be/0XARqaoySC0
We built a bug hotel in Scoil an Athar Tadhg. This will be a nice place for our insects and bugs to stay. We even planted a wildflower rooftop garden for them!!
Our pupils have been busy picking litter with our local community council. We collected all different types of litter - from a car steering wheel, to broken buckets and even a 20 year-old packet of crisps!!
We raised biodiversity awareness in our classes and homes through our project-based work based on plants, birds animals and insects! We learned so much about the various species and habitats and what we can do to protect them!
Have a look at all the work we did in the old school:
Our Action Day
Scoil an Athar Tadhg was delighted to invite Dr. Deirdre Hennessy from UCC to speak to us about the importance of Sustainable Agriculture. Dr. Hennessy spoke about the many different uses of grass for sports fields, gardens, farmland and food sources. The importance of grass as a foodstuff (grass, silage and hay) was highlighted and how it can be fertilised in a sustainable way. We learned how ruminant animals can convert the inedible protein from grass to meat, for human consumption.
Dr. Hennessy outlined how we can support sustainable grass growth through the use of other plants such as white and red clover. She described how grass and clover have a symbiotic relationship which can fix nitrogen in the soil and help carbon sequestration. Dr. Hennessy highlighted the importance of biodiversity above the soil and below the soil and the many different ways in which we can improve biodiversity on our farms, gardens and local community.
What can we do?
Reduce artificial fertilisers and utilise slurry/manure in a sustainable way to support grass growth.
Plant other plant species such as clover with grass to encourage nitrogen fixation.
Move out fences to allow more wild areas along hedgerows for plant and animal biodiversity.
Try not to dig up/ disturb the soil to reduce carbon escaping into the atmosphere.
Use a mix of plant species to utilise nutrients in the soil efficiently and to improve biodiversity.
Drain the land appropriately so that it supports biodiversity below the soil (insects, bugs and earthworms).
Planting trees and hedges around farms and boundaries can improve biodiversity for other plants and animals, improve air quality and provide shelter for new life.
Thanks to Dr. Deirdre Hennessy for highlighting the importance of Sustainable Agriculture and outlining how we can all play a part to increase biodiversity and take care of our plants and animals for future generations to come.
What did we do for our previous flags?
How do we promote safe, sustainable transport?
Let our Green-Schools Committee Show you: Scoil an Athar Tadhg Green Schools Activities - YouTube
We hold Action Days
We encourage people to Park & Stride. Parents can park at safe locations eg. The playground, and the children can use the footpath to safely walk to school.
We have WOW Days (Walk On Wednesdays) to encourage people to start walking to school.
We have COW Days (Cycle On Wednesdays) to promote safe cycling to school.
We hold Green- Schools Action Day events such as “Go Green, Walk to School” which incorporated our Walk to school and Park & Stride initiatives:
Have a look at our Action Days
We make it safer at the school gates
Improved traffic flow – Our Principal and Deputy Principal have been monitoring and directing the traffic flow at the school gates to ensure that the set-down area is operating effectively. This is safer for drivers and pedestrians and more people tend to walk or cycle as a result.
Our WOW Days are proving to be a success.
Have a look at our traffic surveys:
We use the curriculum to teach about safe, sustainable transport.
We look at how we can stay safe when we using the road. We can use maths to learn about the signs and lines on the road.
We can use science to learn about the effects of transport. We can reduce pollution by growing our own food.
We learn about the effects of our Carbon Footprint on the planet. We can all make a difference to help protect planet Earth.
We learn about pollution in our local area. Pollution in the Environment - YouTube
We make creative projects to raise awareness of sustainable transport. SPHE & Geography - Video on Car pollution - YouTube
Our Green-Schools Committee are working very hard to earn our Green Flags. You can learn more about each of our flags below.
Green-Schools – Fourth Flag – Travel
We created an Action Plan to set Travel targets, with the ultimate aim of increasing the number of pupils walking, cycling, scooting, carpooling, using public transport or using park ‘n’ stride instead of the private car on the school run.
By promoting these sustainable transport modes, schools will also improve pupils’ safety, health and fitness. The journey to school is an ideal way for children to take part in regular physical activity, to interact with their peers, and to develop the road sense children need as pedestrians and cyclists. Alternative modes of transport also improve children’s alertness. The schools will also lessen their overall impact on the environment, by reducing emissions and pollution.
Useful Links, Projects and Key Resources
Key Travel Resources
Road Safety and Mapping Advice:
National Transport Authority’s Journey Planner : useful website for planning journeys to and from school/other locations and at weekends – also useful for planning school trips using public transport
RSA Education Page: useful information on road safety for students
Scoilnet Maps: useful for mapping routes to school
European Mobility Week: useful website for schools to learn about European Mobility Week and see what happens all over Europe
Green-Schools – Third Flag – Water
Water is one of the core themes of the Green-Schools programme. The Water theme looks at developing awareness around water conservation and how to effectively manage this important resource in our schools and at home.
Water is an important resource which we use in almost every part of daily life. The raw material may appear to be plentiful but, worldwide, and even in parts of Ireland, it is an increasingly scarce resource. It is not only humans who rely on water, it is also important for the survival of all other living creatures and habitats. Thus, a sufficient supply of clean water is essential to the health of people and the environment. This theme looks at developing awareness around water conservation and how to effectively manage this important resource in our schools and at home.
What do we do to promote awareness and reduce water consumption?
We run poster competitions to raise awareness around water conservation.
We use the curriculum to teach about the importance of water in our local and global environment.
We place posters in each classroom as a reminder to reduce water consumption.
We have water monitors that go around to classes to regularly check and remind others of water conservation.
We use special water saving taps throughout the school.
Water Saving Information
Water Saving Tips for at Home
(from the Eden Project Website)
1. Turn off the tap when you brush your teeth – this can save 6 litres of water per minute.
2. Place a cistern displacement device in your toilet cistern to reduce the volume of water used in each flush.
3. Take a shorter shower. Showers can use anything between 6 and 45 litres per minute.
4. Always use full loads in your washing machine and dishwasher – this cuts out unnecessary washes in between.
5. Fix a dripping tap. A dripping tap can waste 15 litres of water a day.
6. Install a water butt to your drainpipe and use the water collected to water your plants, clean your car and wash your windows.
7. Water your garden with a watering can rather than a hosepipe. A hose uses 1,000 litres of water an hour. Mulching your plants (with bark chippings, heavy compost or straw) and watering in the early morning and late afternoon will reduce evaporation and also save water.
8. Fill a jug with water and place this in your fridge. This will mean you do not have to leave the cold tap running for the water to run cold before you fill your glass.
9. Invest in water efficient goods when you need to replace household products. You can now buy water efficient showerheads, taps, toilets, washing machines, dishwashers and many other water saving products.
10. Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth. This simple action will save 6 litres per minute
Did You Know …?
99% of the world’s water cannot be used because it is either saline (salt water) or locked up in glaciers and ice sheets. Most of the remaining water is present in rocks as groundwater (0.6%), while just over 0.3% is present in rivers and lakes.
A tap dripping once a second wastes 45,000 litres of water a year.
Our own bodies are two thirds water and our brains are at least 85% water.
A person can survive a month without food but only 5-6 days without water.
On average we each use 150 litres of water a day.
Showers are now the single biggest user of water in the home, accounting for about 25% of all water consumed.
Green-Schools – Second Flag – Energy
What is Energy?
Science defines energy as the ability to do work.
Energy is all around us, and comes in different forms – heat (thermal), light (radiant), mechanical, electrical, chemical and nuclear energy. We use energy for everything we do, from running to catch a bus to sending astronauts into space! Although there are many forms of energy, most can be put into two categories, kinetic (motion) and potential (stored).
The sun’s energy is the primary source of energy for all life on Earth. Energy changes form at each step in the chain. Humans and other organisms use energy to survive (grow, change, maintain health, move, and reproduce).
To heat our homes and schools we need an energy source. These energy sources can be categorised as renewable or non-renewable energy. Renewable energy is one that can be easily replenished while non-renewable is one that cannot. Examples of renewable energy include; solar, wind, geothermal, biomass and hydropower.
Fossil Fuels are non-renewable and include; oil, natural gas and coal. These are formed under intense pressure and heat over millions of years from the buried remains of plants and animals. Burning fossil fuels releases energy in the form of heat. In recent decades, humans have been burning more and more fossil fuels to meet the world’s energy demands. Burning fossil fuels contributes to acid rain, which is implicated in the loss of wildlife in lakes and rivers, the reduction of land fertility and the destruction of trees. Furthermore, by burning fossil fuels to release heat we are releasing carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere faster than plants can absorb it. CO2 is a major contributor to the greenhouse effect; as more fuels are burnt, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 increases, causing the average global temperature to rise.
Climate Change affects the distribution of climatic regions, sea level changes and ultimately, the planet’s ability to support human communities.
The good news is, there are simple steps we can take to reduce our energy consumption at home and in school. Many of which are simple low and no-cost actions that can be carried out to increase efficient use of energy and help save you money.
What do we do to promote awareness to Energy reduction and efficiency?
We run poster competitions to raise awareness to effective energy usage.
We use the curriculum to teach about energy consumption in the local and global environment.
We look at how humans have increased their energy usage and the over reliance on fossil fuels. We discuss the impact this has on climate change.
We discuss ways that we can switch to more sustainable forms of energy.
We place posters in each classroom as a reminder to reduce energy
We have energy monitors that go around to classes to regularly check and remind others of the importance of reducing energy usage and switching to more sustainable forms of energy.
Facts and Figures
The recommended temperature for classrooms is 18ºC. Every 1ºC increase in temperature over the above figures could add up to 10% to cost of heating bills.
A photocopier left switched on overnight wastes enough energy to make 1,500 A4 copies
Ireland has set three main targets to achieve by 2020: to increase renewables by 20%, to reduce energy consumption by 20% and to reduce greenhouse gas levels by 20%.
Energy-related CO2 emissions, in Ireland, in 2013 were 20% below 2005 levels.
What You Can Do
Energy is fundamental to the way we live our life today. Electricity is an amazing resource and should be used efficiently both at home and in school. The following are just a few ideas to get you started and to help you and your school reduce your effect on the environment and help save money too!
Turn Off the Lights when no-one is in the room. Put stickers on light switches to remind everyone to turn off the lights at the end of class.
Use energy efficient light bulbs (compact fluorescent light bulbs). These bulbs use ¼ of electricity as normal light bulbs and last up to 12 times longer!
Turn Off Appliances when not in use. Remember, leaving appliances on stand-by uses energy so remember to switch them off.
Put stickers on photocopiers, computers and other appliances in school to remind everyone to turn them off.
Turn Down the Heat! Turning the thermostat down by 1°C can reduce your heating bills by 10%.
Check all windows and doors to see where draughts are coming in. If you identify draughts get your parents or teachers to seal them up or get the students to make a draught excluder using old clothes!
Turn Off the Taps! A dripping hot water tap wastes energy and in one week wastes enough hot water to fill half a bath, so fix leaking taps and make sure they’re fully turned off!
Ask About Energy: http://www.askaboutenergy.com
SEAI schools: http://www.seai.ie/Schools
Energy in Education: http://www.energyineducation.ie/Energy_In_Education
Commission for the Regulation of Utilities: https://www.cru.ie/
Green-Schools – First Flag – Litter and Waste Management
What is litter?
Litter is waste in the wrong place and is always caused by humans.
Litter ruins the appearance of our beautiful towns and countryside. Litter has many forms and many sources, from a sweet wrapper thrown on the street to a dumped bag of rubbish or a fly-tipped load of demolition rubble. Local Authorities spend millions every year cleaning the streets of Ireland and trying to prevent people from dumping their waste illegally. We feel, the money and effort spent on this could be spent on better things!
Litter such as broken bottles and cans left lying around public areas can easily result in an injury, while food litter can attract rats and flies, which spread disease. Litter can also be lethal to wildlife, from discarded fishing lines that can maim and kill water birds, to plastic bags mistaken for food and ingested by animals such as cows, sheep, horses and some marine animals.
Most schools have a litter problem to some degree. The first challenge on the way to becoming a Green-School is to prevent and reduce the amount of litter in the school grounds and raise awareness about the problems associated with litter.
What is Waste?
Waste is an unwanted or unsalable substance or material.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Ireland, since 2007, municipal waste has declined, by 24 per cent per capita, despite an increase in population. Nevertheless, per capita waste generation is still considered to be at an unsustainably high level in Ireland. Municipal waste includes household and commercial waste.
In the past, Ireland sent almost all waste to landfill. However, over the last ten years, Ireland has moved towards a more sophisticated infrastructure of waste recovery and recycling activities.
By thinking about the impact we are having on the environment and changing our actions accordingly we can play an important part in promoting sustainable development. Reducing the amount of waste we produce by re-using, repairing, composting, recycling and, most importantly, preventing waste in the first place, we can help to protect both our country and our planet for future generations.
What do we do to promote awareness to litter and waste management?
We run poster competitions to raise awareness to effective litter and waste management: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
We use the curriculum to teach about litter and waste management in our local and global environment.
We look at how litter and waste impacts on habitats and plant and animal ecosystems.
We place posters in each classroom as a reminder to reduce waste.
We have litter and waste monitors that go around to classes to regularly check and remind others of the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling.
We try to use technology and interactive whiteboards to reduce our paper consumption.
We have recycling bins in each classroom and no waste bins. People are encouraged to take home their waste if it cannot be recycled. This helps reduce waste in our school.
We promote the use of reusable bottles.
What You Can Do?
The first thing you can do to reduce litter and waste is to take responsibility for your actions. The effects of litter and waste can be reduced if we work together, create imaginative solutions and spread the word. The following are just a few ideas to get you started and to help you and your school reduce your effect on the environment.
Ask whether you really NEED the product before you buy
Say NO to plastic bags, use reusable bags instead
Buy products that have less packaging and highlight the issue to suppliers
Use a lunchbox instead of cling film or tin foil and reusable drinks bottles
Make sure you use the double sided facility on the photocopier
Use waste paper for art or as scrap paper
Re-use old bottles, jars and containers for storage or for use in art class
Bring re-usable bags when you go shopping
Swap clothes, books, video games and music with friends instead of throwing them away
Know what you can/cannot recycle (waste collection companies may vary)
Hazardous materials (oil, paint or batteries) should all be recycled
Aim to buy products that are recycled
Useful websites for Litter and Waste Management