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Posted on Mon 04 Dec 2017

Pupils on a Mission to Tackle Food Waste

Schools across the country have been tasked with taking on the Food Waste Challenge, run by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful and supported by the Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs (DAERA).

DAERA was delighted to recently report that Northern Ireland has achieved a 50% recycling rate across the country for all types of waste for the first time. New food waste legislation introduced last April has helped households reach this target, and so it is pertinent that this project is focusing on food waste in particular. Around 10 million tonnes of food, with a value of £17 billion, is wasted in the UK each year - 60% of which could be avoided.

Food is an expensive part of our weekly budget with families in Northern Ireland spending, on average, £64 every week on food. The food we waste can be worth up to one third of the value of our shopping spend. Across Northern Ireland we waste the equivalent of up to six meals per week. As such, food waste going to landfill is placing a strain on our purses and the environment, 20% of the UK’s CO2 eq. emissions comes from food and waste.

The Eco-Schools programme, run by Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, is a pupil-led, environmental education programme, which encourages a hands-on approach to creating a more sustainable school and home environment. With an estimated half of all waste in schools being food waste it is a really important issue to tackle.

Pupils will be asked to highlight the great resource that could be produced from recycling food waste, namely compost.  Not only will pupils learn about the 3R’s of Reducing, Reusing and Recycling food waste, but they will also learn about the great benefits to the environment that making compost has too.

Owen Lyttle, Head of Waste Policy, DAERA said: “With more household waste being recycled now than being landfilled in Northern Ireland this Food Waste Challenge provides a timely reminder to families to keep up the good work. Christmas is just around the corner and now is a good time to re-emphasise the need to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle as much as possible. The Department of Agriculture, Environment & Rural Affairs applauds the enthusiasm of all the schools and pupils involved in the Challenge through their Eco-Schools work.”

Ruth Van Ry, Environmental Education Manager, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, said: “We are delighted to be supported by DAERA in this Food Waste Challenge. It is a great opportunity for pupils to examine the issue and take real practical actions to make a positive change in school and at home. We are looking forward to seeing all the fabulous ideas they will have.”

Participating schools will have the chance to win prizes for their photos of school and home based actions. £200 for the best photo – in each council area - and a further £300 for the best overall school actions.

Competition details:
Pupils will learn about food waste in school and can take the message home to help their family tackle the issue of food waste by:

  1. Sharing a fun #wastehero photo – post to social media – and win prizes
  2. Take the family food waste pledge and put it on their fridge
  3. Place the sticker on their bin to remind them and their family to recycle food

Facebook - @EcoSchoolsNI, Twitter - @Eco_SchoolsNI
Pupils can dress up, be creative and have fun! And with up to £500 in prizes available to the winning school, £200 for best photo of home based actions (within each council area) and a further £300 for Best Overall School actions, this competition is really worth entering.

Posted on Tue 14 Nov 2017

Call for Action!

The Global Environmental Education Partnership (GEEP), of which Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful are a member, announces a global Call for Action for the field of environmental education (EE). Watch the video below and visit www.actnowforee.org to help shape the future!

#ecoschoolsni #ActNowforEE #theGEEP #NAAEE #enviroed #environmentaled

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GEEP Call for Action

Posted on Fri 10 Nov 2017

Save the date! Eco-Schools Teachers Conference 2nd March 2018

Teachers Conference Save the Date

Eco-Schools is delighted to announce the date for their 2018 Teachers Conference – 2nd March 2018. The event will take place in CAFRE Greenmount Campus in Antrim. The theme this year is ‘Eco-Leadership and Empowering Young People’. We will be examining how to give our young people a voice to drive behaviour change in their schools and communities. There will be a selection of workshops looking at Eco-Schools themes from Outdoor Learning to Global Perspective. We are also anticipating some excellent keynote speakers.

The event will again this year incorporate awards for Ambassador Eco-Schools and Eco-Teacher of the Year. For more details on the conference or either of the awards mentioned above please contact cathy.gorman@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org.

Posted on Wed 25 Oct 2017

Young #Smartmovers join Translink Eco-Schools Travel Challenge

Local schools embrace active travel for healthier & greener journeys

Schools across Northern Ireland are making ‘smart moves’ in a bid to cut congestion at school gates, boost pupil health and promote a more sustainable lifestyle.                         

Pupils are taking action following the launch of the Translink Eco-Schools Travel Challenge which promotes walking, cycling, bus and train travel for the school run instead of car use.

Translink’s Ursula Henderson says the Challenge is a smart move to get more young people thinking about the importance of ‘active travel’:

“This initiative supports the draft Programme for Government by encouraging an increase in public transport use and active travel for longer, healthier lives while also protecting the environment. It incorporates curriculum-linked classroom resources and encourages schools to develop sustainable travel plans for at least 2-weeks as a way to achieve the prestigious Eco-Schools Green Flag Award.

Over the past 5 years, 5,850 pupils have taken part in the challenge completing 66,514 sustainable journeys, an increase of 64% in sustainable journeys from before the challenge, resulting in 23,797 fewer car journeys on our roads.

“We’re conscious that not all schools have the option of using ‘active travel’ modes on a regular basis due to their location but we still think it’s important to teach pupils about sustainable transport so they can make informed travel choices as they grow older and more independent. That’s why we’re encouraging all schools to submit their own #Smartmovers Project – demonstrating the steps they’ve taken to study the Eco Schools Transport Topic.

“Taking part is easy - simply visit www.translink.co.uk/ecoschools/ to download our fun Key Stage 1 – 3 travel challenge classroom resources, find out more about our #Smartmovers project and be in with a chance of winning fantastic prizes for your school!” said Ursula.

Ruth Van Ry, 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. We have seen more pupils every year take part which is a reflection of their desire to protect the environment and enjoy a healthy journey to school. We are asking teachers and parents to support our young enthusiasts to be ‘smartmovers’, reduce congestion and make more everyday journeys in a sustainable way!”


You can register for the Translink Travel Challenge through the Eco-Schools School Zone or by emailing ruth.vanry@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org Deadline for completed Translink Eco-Schools Travel Challenge entries is Monday 21st May 2018.

Posted on Mon 16 Oct 2017

Belfast pupils turn recycling into a tasty treat.

Schools across Belfast are tackling the important topic of food waste with the launch of 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.

Pupils from Botanic Primary School have discovered that recycling food at school and at home means great compost, and great compost means great veggies! They have seen the process full circle to the benefit of their school vegetable patch. They also know it is not just their vegetables that benefit, but the environment as well, as food waste going to landfill is a top contributor to greenhouse gases – 7% of all global greenhouse gas emissions, 3.3 billion tonnes of CO2 equivalent. 

Last year saw pupils from 34 Belfast schools investigate and engage in practical actions to reduce waste, particularly food waste, in school and at home by reducing, reusing and recycling. Botanic Primary School placed food caddies in all their classrooms and managed to reduce the food in their bins by over 90%. They went on to impress the judges at the Wheelie Big Challenge competition in June and scooped first prize and £500 for their eco work. 

Ruth Van Ry, Environmental Education Manager, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful said: “The Wheelie Big Challenge is an action based, 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 get involved”. 

Alderman Tommy Sandford, 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. ”

The Wheelie Big Challenge is open now to all schools in Belfast City Council and will run until April. You can register your interest in the competition and receive resources and information by emailing cathy.gorman@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org or by calling 02890 736920.


Posted on Thu 05 Oct 2017

Eco-Teacher of the Year competition now open!

Eco-Schools are running the Eco-Teacher of the Year award for a second year and we want to hear from your pupils!

We’re calling on pupils to nominate their eco heroes, warriors and legends. Pupils should tell us in no more than 100 words why their teacher should be Eco-Teacher of the Year 2018. This can be in the form of a poem, letter, storyboard, essay, photos, video or whatever way best answers the question – just remember entries must be within the word limit!

This competition is open to all schools and the deadline is Thursday 1st February 2018. You can download more information and register through the Eco-Schools Planner in your School Zone. Entries can be emailed to eco-schools@keepnorthernirelandbeautiful.org or posted to Eco-Schools, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, Bridge House, 2 Paulett Avenue, Belfast, BT5 4HD.

The winning teacher and some pupils will be invited to attend the Eco-Schools Teachers Conference in March to receive their award.

We can’t wait to hear about all you wonderful teachers!