Stats like this should be encouraging us all to do more to look after our planet.
After all, there is no Planet B.
Having always been keen to do my bit for the environment, I decided to set up an Eco Council at school. This has been a fantastic way to encourage the whole school community to be more considerate of their environmental impact whilst also helping to reduce school waste and therefore save money. If you’re considering doing something similar, hopefully this short guide will help you to get started.
✅ Recruit Members
Ensure you have pupils representing each year group in the Eco Council. It is important to have a mix of ages and genders. I found the children really liked the idea of having Eco Council badges as it helped to give them a greater sense of responsibility. It is also helpful to recruit further adults in the form of a school governor, a member of the leadership team, a TA or an additional teacher.
✅ Complete an Environmental Audit
One of the first tasks, once you have assembled a team, should be to complete an environmental audit of the school. This will include finding out about the following: what currently happens to school waste; how much energy and water is used by the school; what pupils currently understand about recycling/climate change/pollution etc. It is important that the pupils are as involved in the auditing process as is possible. They could interview the Headteacher, complete checklists, give out questionnaires, complete observations and take notes etc. Once the Eco Council has carried out an audit, it will be easier to identify the key areas that you wish to address within your school.
✅ Improve Understanding
It is essential that children and staff in the Eco Council are aware of the reasons why an Eco Council is beneficial. Why have an Eco Council? How will it help the environment? To further develop the knowledge and understanding of Eco Council members about environmental issues, you could perhaps invite a visitor to come and talk to the group. We were lucky enough to attend an Eco Show at a local school where pupils and staff were able to demonstrate the kind of things they had done to improve their environmental awareness. If neither of these are possible, perhaps due to budget/area/time constraints, then the Young People’s Trust for the Environment has a selection of educational videos.
✅ Write an Action Plan
With the environmental audit complete and an improved understanding of environmental issues, you are now ready to create an action plan. First, identify the key areas you wish to focus on e.g. reducing waste, caring for wildlife etc. As a group, you must then decide what actions you will take e.g. implementing a recycling scheme, building insect homes etc. It is important you set deadlines to complete each task so you have something to work towards. Remember to be realistic! It is no good setting yourselves too many targets and expecting them to be complete within half a term.
✅ Spread the Word
Once you are happy with your action plan, it is finally time to share your aims with the rest of the school. To do this, we held an assembly in which we explained what the Eco Council was all about. We also told the rest of the school how they were able to get involved and do their bit to make a difference to the local and global environment. In addition to an assembly, we also created a corridor display where we could share our Eco Code and display further information. Another great way to spread the word is to hold an Eco Week but more on this in an upcoming journal entry!
Further information and resources to help set up your own Eco Council can be found here: