Green Flag status recognises outstanding effort for environmental awareness and action on climate change, and requires proof that students have not only delivered high impact changes now but also inspired behaviour change throughout a lifetime.
Harrogate Grammar School students decided to make environmental change a priority in early 2019 and its Eco-Schools Committee set out three action areas for change, focusing on sustainable energy, waste reduction and healthy living. Since then they have taken steps including:
- Shutting down PCs and other equipment at the end of the day and when not in use and installing LED lighting, leading to around 100kg less carbon being released over the last year.
- Securing PTA funding for more water refill points, which led to a drop of one third in the purchase of single-use plastic bottles.
- Asking the catering staff to consider food miles when placing orders, leading to a reduction of 54,000 food miles.
- Ensuring that 100% of all school waste goes for recycling and whatever cannot be recycled is used as Refuse Derived Fuel, leading to landfill reduction of the equivalent of 95 tennis courts.
- Introducing all-recyclable cutlery and fully compostable food boxes and drinks cups.
- Requesting more vegetarian and vegan options on the school menu, leading to a 20% uptake in vegan dishes.
The Charities Committee chose Waste Aid as the school charity and raised more than £11,000 to support waste reduction and recycling projects in Kenya, Uganda and Cameroon.
Eco-Schools, an international body which works to motivate and empower young people to protect the planet said:
Harrogate Grammar School has clearly proven its commitment to environmental education and tackling climate change. They have demonstrated confidence in their students’ ability to plan and deliver environmental projects that involve their whole school community.
Their projects have created change immediately: reducing their school’s energy consumption, providing healthier school meals with a reduced carbon footprint and decreasing reliance on single-use plastics in their school. Their involvement in the Eco-Schools process will continue to facilitate change for years to come, as Harrogate Grammar School students feel empowered to actively protect our planet throughout their lifetimes.
Year 10 student, Agatha Mitton Stanbury, said: “As a teenager I am very concerned about the environment and being part of Eco-School has provided an opportunity for me and many others to participate in making a change in our school. Achieving the green flag has been fantastic and being involved in the process has been really enjoyable.”
Assistant Headteacher Alison Smith, who coordinated the Eco-Schools project, said:
I am in awe of the determination and dedication of the students in sticking with the project throughout the Covid lockdown and restrictions. Many of the original committee members left school at the end of the project’s first year so we integrated with the Senate and recruited more students to join us.
It really was a whole school effort by the end and that was due to our Eco Committee’s inspirational ability to engage other students and lead by example.
Headteacher, Neil Renton, said:
I am very proud that we have been able to innovate in this area and the award is a real credit to the leadership and drive of our Eco-Committee.