‘We’re young, but we can make a big difference’, say pupils

Independent school pupils are using their voices to change the devastating effects of single-use plastic (SUP) on the environment

This Global Recycling Day, independent schools across the UK are actively making changes–from replacing plastic bottles with alternatives to becoming plastic free schools–to care for the environment around them.

The theme for this year’s Global Recycling Day is ‘recycling into the future’ and focuses on the power of youth and education in ensuring a brighter future for children.

On the senior school’s significant reduction of plastic bottles by almost 90%, Millfield headmaster, Gavin Horgan, said: “This an amazing example of pupil voice, and I am absolutely thrilled to see Millfield pupils actively changing the environment around them, not only for their peers, but for generations to come. I hope the success of this campaign inspires all of our pupils to drive the change they want to see in the world, and I look forward to helping them achieve those ambitions.”

Millfield Upper Sixth pupil Imara-Bella Thorpe, Eco Co-ordinator Karl Leonard and Upper Sixth pupil Emma Harvey

The Eco Committee at Millfield were inspired by an assembly led by Horgan. Upper Sixth pupils Imara and Emma said: “We were truly inspired after Mr Horgan encouraged us in our first assembly to use our voices for change. The environment is something that affects us all and we wanted to show that even though we are young, we can still make a big difference. This is just the beginning: what we have been able to accomplish in a school this size is incredible, but there’s still more we can do.”

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Upton House School also announced that it is the first school in Berkshire to receive official plastic free school status accreditation by the national Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) organisation. Research carried out by the pupils revealing the devastating effects of plastic in the environment encouraged them to join the campaign.

Form six pupil Emily Nicholas explained: “We began by forming an action plan to cut use of single-use plastic in school. We’ve replaced plastic snack bags in the school kitchens with hessian nets and reusable boxes, saving an incredible 6,220 bags per year! We have pledged to remove one item of SUP a month which so far includes SUP water bottles, cartons and carrier bags. We’re aiming to reduce plastic use in pens and plastic wallets and are working with Plastic Free Windsor to set up a School’s Forum so we can encourage other schools to join us and share ideas.

“We’ve also written to the Education Secretary, Mr Hind, and the Environment Minister, Mr Gove and are presently writing to supermarkets and other local businesses to ask them to take action against SUP. We have brainstormed ideas, created posters and presentations, and held an assembly for parents and local visitors explaining the problems with plastic.”

Upton House School

They are not the only schools leaping into action, with Bournemouth Collegiate School replacing water bottles with an environmentally-friendly metal alternative. Farlington School is also no longer supplying plastic bottles for school trips. They have changed their disposable, lunch-takeaway boxes and cups to biodegradable options.

Is your school doing something to tackle environmental issues? Get in touch at jo.golding@wildfirecomms.co.uk.

Farlington School
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