Pupils and teachers have helped their schools save over €8m in costs through green initiatives since last autumn.
In the past school year alone, 110 schools have received a Green Flag from An Taisce, most of them adding to their existing collection of flags for efforts to cut down on waste, energy, and water usage, and to travel to school in more environmentally friendly ways.
For 140 schools, this was the first Green Flag to be awarded as they completed the first programme based on the theme of litter and waste. They are among 3,127 schools, out of 4,000 at primary and second levels in Ireland, which now have at least one An Taisce Green Flag.
Around 600 more are registered with the programme, and working on attaining their first award.
“Each year we are bowled over by the incredibly fresh and fun ideas students and teachers come up with to raise awareness of different environmental issues in their schools,” said Green Schools manager Cathy Baxter.
“From raps and songs to art installations and igloos made of old milk bottles, schools in Ireland have embraced Green Schools and made caring for their environment a priority as well as an integral part of school culture,” she said.
Students and teachers from schools around Cork City and county celebrated receiving their flags yesterday, at one of 20 ceremonies in seven locations where flags were awarded for litter and waste, energy, water, travel, biodiversity, and global citizenship.
The Green Schools programme has helped divert 4,700 tonnes of waste from landfill. In addition, 15.6m units of electricity have been saved by schools through reduced energy consumption.
A further 370m litres of water have been conserved, and 1.5m litres of transport fuel saved in communities whose schools followed the travel programme.
The total estimated savings on waste, energy, water, and transport fuel costs exceed €8m this year alone, according to An Taisce.
The scheme is part of the international Eco-Schools programme that celebrates its 21st anniversary this year, with schools in 58 countries now taking part.
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