There is no Planet B: Working towards the Green Flag Award | Abingdon Senior School

There is no Planet B: Working towards the Green Flag Award
By Alastair Blackmore, Deputy Estates Manager

Eco-Schools is an internationally recognised award programme that focuses on enabling schools to follow a simple framework to make environmental issues and sustainability an integral part of school life. It believes that by instilling the knowledge of sustainability and awareness of environmental issues at a young age that this can be transferred from the classroom to homes and everyday life.

The Abingdon Foundation is preparing to attain this award in recognition of the ongoing work that is achieved by many departments of the school and beyond.

I have been asked why this accreditation would be a significant benefit to the School. The Eco-Schools Green Flag award is a pupil led initiative and amongst the current student body there are future leaders. By educating now we can instil environmental awareness and sustainability as a norm. In February, pupils nationwide joined the climate strike and called for “the chance for change now”. I feel that the Abingdon Foundation allows students to voice their opinions on such prominent matters.

From a personal perspective, during my time as a student at Abingdon School (Leaver 2005), there was less of a global focus on environmental responsibility than there is now. As a result of a tertiary education in Environmental Science, I have become extremely aware of the great impact that small changes can have to the wider world. I am immensely proud to see that a subject that I am so passionate about is now taken increasingly seriously by the School.

Since my return to Abingdon School as a member of staff I have been encouraged to see how deeply the student body cares about issues surrounding the school environment and its responsibilities. There is an active Eco Committee in which boys discuss environmental themes that they want to address and then formulate an action plan.

In the Michaelmas term the Estates department was given a proposal by the Student Eco Committee with requests for both additional food waste bins as well as additional water bottle refill points. Every year in the UK 18 million tonnes of food waste ends up in landfill. This could be reduced by homes and businesses introducing a simple method of having separate bins. The drinking water points have been installed and improve the known link between hydration and concentration. I continue to be impressed by the dedication and passion that this Committee demonstrates.

The innovative ideas from the students to raise awareness of environmental sustainability does not stop at the Student Eco Committee. Recent Young Enterprise teams have also focused their ideas around sustainability – Bamboozled (bamboo vases), Waterworks (reusable water bottles) and Aqualapse (collapsable and reusable coffee cups) are a few examples. It is interesting to see that once again environmental issues are at the forefront of the students’ minds.

As well as the efforts made by the students, the Estates department continues to make upgrades to energy efficient mechanical and electrical systems as well as making sure that the electricity we use is backed by renewable energy sources.

During our recent Eco Week, members of staff pledged small changes they could make to reduce their carbon footprint; it is the small lifestyle changes from individuals that collectively will make a significant impact. It is increasingly important in day to day life to stop and reflect on how you can personally make a difference.

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