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Posted on Fri 12 May 2017

Pupils take action to ‘Letter Less’ with Eco-Schools campaign.

Thirty schools across Northern Ireland are determined to combat litter and waste by participating in the Wrigley Company Foundation ‘Litter Less’ campaign. Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful are delighted to be delivering the campaign for the sixth year through the Eco-Schools programme in partnership with the Foundation for Environmental Education. With £43 million spent on street cleaning annually in Northern Ireland this issue is ever more important. The global campaign is running in 27 countries around the world, raising awareness of litter problems and encouraging positive behaviour changes. Over the period of the campaign 729,394 pupils in 1355 schools worldwide have been working on reducing litter and waste to make the world a better place.

Local school St Brigid’s Primary, Newry, completed a very successful clean-up of their village, Whitecross, as part of their Litter Less actions. The pupils were surprised how much litter they found in the area which at first glance seemed quite tidy. A closer look soon revealed lots of rubbish stuck between fences and under bushes. The pupils were proud of the 15 bags of rubbish they collected and pleased that the village is now a better environment. The school has also been in touch with Indian Eco-School, Vidya Niketan School, Jamnagar, to swap stories and ideas of how to reduce litter in their local communities and have learnt much about the global problem of litter.

Alex West, Senior Corporate Affairs Manager at Wrigley UK said: “At Wrigley, we take the issue of littered gum very seriously and firmly believe that education is the only long term way to tackle it. Litter Less is a fantastic example of the work we do with partners to educate young people about looking after their local area and disposing of litter responsibly. Wrigley are delighted to be able to continue to support this work and encourage the creative and innovative approaches young people are taking to reduce litter in their communities.”

Ruth Van Ry, Eco-Schools Coordinator, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said: “This is the 6th year of the Litter Less Campaign which is really proving to be a great way to educate our young people further on the positive reasons for littering less. The 30 schools will be supported to implement practical actions to reduce littering and it is fantastic to see that many of the schools are planning to get the wider community involved too. Well done to the pupils of St Brigid’s for a great job done!”


Posted on Fri 31 Mar 2017

Teachers unleash pupil potential with Outdoor Learning.

Teachers from all over Northern Ireland recently gathered to find out about the benefits of Outdoor Learning. Research has shown that teaching young people in and about the natural environment improves their physical and mental health and also improves their learning potential. Instilling knowledge and a love for the environment in children from a young age is also likely to increase their desire to protect it as they grow older. With the modern trend for children to spend less and less time in nature these are powerful and essential messages.

Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful’s Eco-Schools Teachers Conference was hosted at Stranmillis University College with support from the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs. The event  was attended by over 75 schools with 120 teachers and pupils hearing compelling evidence from keynote speakers Judy Braus, North American Association of Environmental Education (NAAEE) and Dr William Bird, Intelligent Health on how and why outdoor learning was so critical to health and wellbeing.

Judy Braus, NAAEE said: “It was so inspiring to see what hundreds of teachers and students are accomplishing in Northern Ireland through the Eco-Schools program. These committed educators are building future global citizens who understand how individuals and communities can work together to create a more sustainable future. They are also ensuring that all kids—starting with the very youngest—spend time in nature and learn to care about the places where they live.”

The event also celebrated Eco-Schools excellence with Cumran Primary School, Clough; Mill Strand Integrated Primary School, Portrush; and St Colm’s High School, Draperstown receiving their Ambassador Eco-School status for outstanding environmental outreach work. Three teachers were also awarded Eco-Teacher of the Year Awards.  In first place was Mr Coleman from St Francis’ Primary School, Lurgan and in runner up positions were Miss O’Shea, St John the Baptist Primary School, Enniskillen and Mrs Downey, St Bronagh’s Primary School, Newry. These teachers were nominated by their pupils for the superb leadership and inspiration they provide in all things Eco.

Dr Ian Humphreys, Chief Executive, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said: 
“The reasons on why being outdoors is so beneficial to young people’s health and wellbeing, confidence and attainment has never been better understood and was very clearly laid out by the conference speakers.  Teachers want our young people to be the best that they can be so the challenge now, despite any barriers, is for all teachers to devise ways to teach more hours more often outside the four walls of the classroom.” 

Teachers were able to learn more about delivering outdoor environmental learning through a selection of workshops at the event provided by the RSPB, Ulster Wildlife, Trócaire, Jilly Dougan Edible Gardens, Dr Sue Christie, Judy Braus and Dr William Bird. Exhibits were also provided by Eco-Schools, Live Here Love Here, Belfast City Council the Global Learning Programme, Sustrans, Beat the Street, Stranmillis University College, Helping Hand, Heyn, and Wicksteed. Translink and IKEA kindly provided prizes for the Eco-Teacher of the Year Award.

Posted on Fri 31 Mar 2017

Belfast pupils serve up great ideas in food waste challenge

Schools across Belfast are tackling the important topic of food waste with the exciting Wheelie Big Challenge run by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful Eco-Schools and supported by Belfast City Council. With alarming figures like, 7 million tonnes of food being thrown away from UK homes every year, pupils are investigating what can be done in school and at home to reduce waste.

Last year participating schools were able to improve their recycling performance by over 95% with many implementing food waste recycling for the first time. In this third year of the challenge, a character called Wheelie again encourages everyone to take a closer look at what they throw in the bin. Pupils will learn tips on how to reduce food waste and compost or recycle any food scraps. They are then invited to enter their actions and improvements into a competition. Schools can win up to £500 in Primary and Post-Primary award categories to help with their eco work. 

Ruth Van Ry, Eco-Schools Coordinator, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said: “The Wheelie Big Challenge is an exciting and fun project and competition for all schools in Belfast to think about how they could improve the environment by reducing waste and recycling more. We are delighted to be once again supported by Belfast City Council and are looking forward to seeing all the interesting ideas from schools. We invite all school pupils in Belfast to put their eco-thinking caps on and to get involved”.

Matt Garrett, Chair of the People and Communities Committee, Belfast City Council said: “We are pleased to be working with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful again on this competition, building on the success of the past few years. This competition gives schools the opportunity to win great prizes while helping to protect the environment and reduce waste disposal costs. With research showing that around a third of food is wasted, we hope this competition will encourage pupils and their families to think about the food they waste at home and in school and do something about it. ”

Last year’s winner in the Primary category, Harberton School, made a big push to recycle and reuse more and introduced food recycling in the classrooms and staff room. They impressed judges in the competition final with their display presenting the many actions they took to encourage everyone to waste less and recycle more.


Schools in Belfast City Council can register their interest in the competition by emailing cathy.gorman@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org or by calling 02890 736920.


Posted on Thu 09 Feb 2017

Schools all aboard for ‘smart moves’ in 2-week travel challenge -Translink and Eco-Schools encourage pupils to adopt more active travel patterns

With spring just around the corner, and a stretch in the days, schools across Northern Ireland are being encouraged to participate in the Translink Eco-Schools Travel Challenge to cut down on car congestion at school gates and help boost pupil health and wellbeing.

 The 2 week Translink Eco-Schools Travel Challenge promotes walking, cycling, bus and train travel for the school run instead of car use. It incorporates curriculum-linked resources and encourages schools to develop sustainable travel plans as a way to achieve the internationally recognised Eco-Schools Green Flag Award. 43 schools have already come on board for this year’s Challenge.

Translink’s Ursula Henderson says, “The initiative is a fun way to educate young people about environmental, safety, health and cost benefits of ‘active travel’ modes:


“More and more schools are taking up the Translink Eco-Schools Travel Challenge and making ‘smart moves’ for the journey to school. Last year, 36 schools successfully completed the challenge recording more than 13,427 sustainable journeys. There was a real shift away from car use; 60% of the journeys made during the Challenge were sustainable compared to 41% beforehand.

“We want to build on this success and attract even more challenge participants in 2016/17. We’re encouraging schools to visit www.translink.co.uk/ecoschools/ to download a range of engaging Key Stage 1 – 3 travel challenge classroom resources and get started!

“We also want to highlight the positive health benefits of active travel modes. Independent research shows that people who use sustainable transport for the journey to and from work have a significantly lower BMI and are happier than those who use private transport.

 “As well as helping their school achieve the Green Flag Award, the top performing classes and pupils in this year’s challenge will receive travel prizes at a special award ceremony during Bus + Train Week in June. Schools are also being encouraged to submit a #Smartmovers project that demonstrates all the innovative ways pupils have tackled the travel challenge,” said Ursula.

Ruth Van Ry, Eco-Schools Coordinator, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said:

“We are delighted to be supported by Translink in the Eco-Schools ‘Transport’ topic and to be promoting this great Travel Challenge again. This initiative has wide benefits and also connects with the Eco-Schools topics ‘Healthy Living’ and ‘Climate Change’. With so many environmental challenges facing us globally, this is an easy and enjoyable way to make a positive difference. We would ask teachers and parents to support our young enthusiasts in completing this challenge, make a tangible difference to congestion around schools, and get some fresh air in the process!”

For further information click www.translink.co.uk/ecoschools/ or email ruth.vanry@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org

Posted on Mon 03 Oct 2016

Schools Bag Big Prizes with Cash for Clobber

Schools across the country are taking part in the ‘Cash for Clobber’ competition run in partnership with Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, Eco-Schools and Cookstown Textile Recyclers. This great method of being environmentally friendly by recycling also raises some welcome funds for the schools taking part.

Last year 235 schools took part and collected a whopping 275 tonnes of clothing. If every school in NI took part an amazing 1163 tonnes of clothing could be diverted from landfill to be reused or recycled. Not only is this great for the environment but the schools also receive 40 pence per kilo of clothing collected, raising valuable funds for their school projects.

Schools which collect the most textiles per pupil are in with the chance to win the annual ‘Cash for Clobber’ competition with fantastic prizes of up to £1,500. The closing date for the competition this year is 30th June 2017.

Last year Orangefield Primary School, Belfast, were overjoyed to win the top prize in the large primary section.  St Scire’s Primary School, Trillick, won in the medium schools section and The Magic Roundabout Playgroup, Sixmilecross, won in the small schools section.

Cookstown Textile Recyclers are the only BSI certified clothing recycling company that Eco-Schools recommends. Clothing collected is redistributed to developing countries around the world or recycled into industrial fibers.

Schools who would like to get involved are asked to call the Cash for Clobber Team on 028 9447 9380 or visit Cash for Clobber.