SIXTH class students from St Patrick’s Boys’ National School in Skibbereen were out in force at the local farmer’s market last Saturday selling their very own eco-cups.
Their teacher, Anne O’Donovan, was with them and explained how the students – as part of their junior entrepreneur scheme – have produced the eco cups as a means of combating waste, as well as forming a money-making company.
The junior entrepreneur programme teaches students how to set up and run a business using strategies, such as market research, product design, development, marketing, sales and financial control.
Initially there were five different teams, all of whom had five different ideas. Each team researched their product and then made a formal presentation to a panel of three ‘dragons’ – their school principal, Alan Foley, and two local businessmen, Matthew Lawlor of Spearline and Adam Walsh from Field’s SuperValu in Skibbereen.
Their teacher told The Southern Star that the dragons chose the West Cork Eco Cup as the most viable product as it tied in nicely with the school’s green ethos and because people are becoming more aware of the need to stop all single use plastic.
After the decision was made, the entire class started working on the project as a single team.
Ms O’Donovan confirmed that the cups – which sell for €8 – are made of 100% recyclable polypropylene, and are BPA free, double insulated, as well as being microwave and top rack dishwasher safe.
The cups are 350ml in size and are made by an Irish company. As for the design, it was the students who came up with the logo – a tree to represent sustainability. But there is a further, rather special detail, on each of the cups and that is the 27 leaves on the tree, one for each of the students.
Ms O’Donovan said the school is well known as ‘a green school’ and is ‘huge on recycling.’ The students also make eco bricks from plastic bottles that can be made into flower pots for the school garden.
The school garden is, in fact, award winning. Here, the children are active participants in growing fruit and vegetables – all of which teaches them to be self-sufficient and more sustainable.
Commenting on the students’ participation in junior entrepreneur scheme, Ms O’Donovan said: ‘It gives them a real-life experience of the math we teach and we get to see them grow in confidence through the skills they are learning through the programme.’
In addition to selling the cups at the market, several businesses in the locality are also stocking them.
Any profit made from sales will be used to invest in equipment for the school, and a donation will be made to a charity that has yet to be determined.