YOUNG people in West Cork are not shy when it comes to leading the charge against climate change and helping to save the environment.
Taking inspiration from Greta Thunberg, as well as West Cork’s Alicia O’Sullivan, Saoi O’Connor and Fionn Ferreira, the students at Schull Community College (SCC) are hard at work making their school and community more environmentally friendly, and they are also hoping other schools will join them in trying to combat climate change.
‘We are working hard here, to lead the way in making students more active and environmentally aware,’ senior climate change activists (SCCA) public relations officer Leah Barrett told The Southern Star.
‘We have made a number of changes to the way that waste is recycled here at the school and we are working to eliminate single-use plastic bottles with a refill station and school-issued reusable drinking bottles.’
The student body has taken a highly active role when it comes to making their school, and indeed their community, as environmentally-efficient as possible.
‘We took part in the recent climate strike and took the protest to the community,’ Leah continued.
‘As well as looking at what we can do within the school itself, we have also organised a beach clean, tree planting, created a community ‘Incredible Edibles’ garden where all the food grown is for the community, and we recycle paper, plastic, inkjet cartridges, batteries, stamps, glass and aluminium.’
The school’s teachers are also involved with issues such as fair trade, sustainable fashion and food waste now part of home economics classes, and an emphasis on sustainability as part of the ag science, geography and science courses.
In transition year, the mini companies are encouraged to form enterprises that reuse and recycle materials to make something new, while the engineering, construction and art classes have also contributed to a more natural, eco-friendly school.
‘We all have to remember that every single person can make a difference and we encourage other schools to take the challenge of becoming a more sustainable and climate change school, but also to think of the sustainable development goals set out by the United Nations,’ Leah explained.
SCC’s 10 achievements:
1. Beach clean by all first years, including picking litter in the village and environs;
2. Tree planting: Local seeds of Irish native trees were collected and planted, in collaboration with our partner schools in Lesotho and Moyville in Donegal;
3. Achieved the 2nd highest level in the World Wise programme;
4. Set sustainable development goals, as part of a drive by Cork ETB;
5. Created community ‘Incredible Edibles’ garden, free of any pesticides, herbicides or insecticides;
6. Replaced all light bulbs with more sustainable ones;
7. Added five bird boxes, two bat boxes and an insect hotel to locality;
8. Enagaged in active mental health initiatives like Random Act of Kindness week, ‘buddy system’ and school walks during the year;
9. Introduced transition year module called Development Education, where issues of local and international issues are discussed;
10. Took part in the Model UN, run by Davis College.