Litter picks along the Wales Coastal Path and a green campaign by pupils have landed an Abergele school a top eco-award.
The Keep Britain Tidy group has handed Ysgol Emrys ap Ewan its prestigious internationally regarded Green Flag Eco-Award status for the youngsters’ efforts.
The campaign includes measures such as pupils switching off lights and projectors when classrooms are empty, recycling paper and plastic bottles and making sure waste bins are in the best places.
In addition the school has adopted a stretch of nearby beach and the Wales Coastal Path, with pupils regularly collecting potentially harmful rubbish left behind by visitors.
Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan science teacher Rhys Williams says pupils deserve a great deal of credit for the way they have worked hard at reducing the school’s carbon footprint.
He said: “We have a school eco committee, which is made up of 10 learners from across the year groups plus staff. We look at how we can, as a school community, reduce our carbon footprint.
“Learners now go around at lunchtimes to ensure teachers have turned off lights and projectors and every classroom has recycling bins, which are been properly used.
“We also looked at reducing the amount of paper we used, and outside at which areas had the most litter and why.
“As a result we moved some waste bins to new locations, which had a dramatic effect in reducing litter and improving the school environment for everyone.”
He added: “More than a year ago, as a school we linked with Conwy County Borough and Keep Wales Tidy to adopt an area of beach. We take learners along to clean up plastics and other litter that could be harmful to wildlife.
“We are really pleased with the way learners have worked as a committee and how they have taken on board the important environmental messages that comes with being a Green Flag Eco Award-winning school.”
Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan head teacher Lee Cummins said: “I congratulate the eco committee for achieving Green Flag status for the school. This is a great achievement and something of which the learners can be very proud.”
Ysgol Emrys ap Iwan eco council members Dionne Hinchliffe, 12, Siret Hatton and Matthew Munday, both 11, say they are delighted to have won the award for the school.
Dionne said: “It is really important we take simple steps such as turning off lights when there is no one in classrooms so we use less energy. It doesn’t take much but can make a big difference to the amount of energy we use.
“And it’s amazing how much paper we have saved by trying to use less and also properly recycling what is used. I’m proud we have won the award and we know we have to keep it up and see if we can do even more to save energy and recycle more.”
Siret said: “I’m really keen on reducing the amount of plastic we use and waste in school. It’s amazing to see how many empty drink bottles are recycled. We know how harmful plastic is to the environment.
“The problem is it doesn’t break down and when it gets into the sea it harms lots of wildlife. If we just used less and made sure what we did use is properly recycled then we could make a big difference.”
Matthew agreed adding: “By reducing the amount of plastic we use we also reduce the amount of oil we need as oil is used in the manufacture of most plastics. It’s horrible to see the amount of plastic there is in the sea and on the beach.
“The thing is the plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces and that then harms wildlife.”
He added: “It’s also nice to see the school is clean and tidy and there isn’t litter all over the place. It makes it better for everyone.
“We are all proud to have won the Green Flag Eco Award. It’s amazing and everyone, not just the school’s eco council, worked really hard to make sure we achieved it.”
Keep Britain Tidy group’s Eco School campaign is an international award programme that provides a simple framework to help make sustainability an integral part of school life.
A spokesman for the group said: “Eco-Schools can help enhance the curriculum and get the whole school united behind something important.
“Our mission is to help make every school in the country sustainable and to bring about behaviour change in young people and those connected to them so that good habits learned in schools are followed through into homes and communities.
“What’s more, by addressing environmental issues in school and reducing waste, they’ll save money, which can be reinvested elsewhere.”