Irish children’s mission to make the world greener and cleaner saved 1.35m kilometres of school trips last year under just one part of the expanding Green Schools programme.
At ceremonies to award green flags to dozens of schools for their latest endeavours, some of the rewards of their work were pointed out.
Birgit O’Driscoll of An Taisce told children from schools in Cork, Clare, Kilkenny, and Waterford that one of the programmes had seen 9,000 students move to more sustainable forms of transport.
“That’s enough to fill 180 school buses. Or taking the average school journey as being a kilometre, they’ve saved enough fuel for 1,350,000km,” said Ms O’Driscoll.
“That’s enough to go to the Moon, travel around it, come back to Earth, and travel around the world again 14 times.”
Environment Minister Phil Hogan presented green flags in Cork to nine schools for completing the two-year project on transport, the fourth theme that schools work on after achieving flags for litter and waste, energy, and water conservation.
Scoil Cholmcille CBS from Blarney St became the first Cork City primary school to achieve the green flag for travel. Fifth-class pupils James Collins and Sam O’Brien said they had the most fun when helping to organise the Walk on Wednesday events, encouraging students and staff to come to school on foot once a week.
About 2,500 schools will get their flags this year, many at ceremonies in Athlone, Cork, and Dublin this week.
Michael John O’Mahony, chief operating officer of An Taisce’s education unit, said they are moving to expand the programme to pre-school settings. Students who experienced Green Schools at primary and second level were taking the lead at widening it into third-level colleges.
“Having heard about all the savings, if we could translate that across the country, I think the minister would be very happy.”
Mr Hogan, who is planning the introduction of water charges, said he was delighted that more than 88% of all schools are registered in the programmes.
“It’s important that we realise water is not a free resource, it costs €1bn a year to treat water so it is important that we don’t waste what has cost money to produce,” he said.
“There are many ways in which we can reduce our bills and it’s good for households, good for schools, good for business, and good for all of us.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved