Millstreet pupils shortlisted for
IT’S A CASE OF ‘WASTE NOT, WANT NOT’ AS MONTHS OF HARD WORK PAY OFF FOR INTREPID STUDENTS
A GROUP of Second year students from Millstreet Community School have received the honour of being shortlisted for the ECO UNESCO Young Environmentalist Award 2015.
This achievement comes at the end of five months of hard work developing their project entitled Waste Not Want Not during their lunchtimes with teacher Ms. Elaine Power.
The process began in November 2014 when a group of students expressed interest in participated in a training day facilitated by ECO UNESCO in Limerick. This organisation’s aims include, ‘raising environmental awareness, understanding and knowledge among young people and to promote their personal development through practical environmental activities’.
At the training day the students heard about a project called the Young Environmentalist Award which encourages young people to get actively involved in tackling a local environmental issue which may also have global links. The students were enthused by the prospect of working on this task and after a lot of brainstorming decided on dealing with the issue of ‘recycling’ in school.
In the short term they wanted to encourage and promote recycling, with ‘reducing and reusing’ part of a more long term goal. The students were clearly enthused by this.
When asked why she wanted to get involved 2nd year Paulina Railaite said, “I wanted to help make my school a better place and to help other students to learn more about how to reduce waste and keep it as clean and tidy as possible.”
The first aspect of their project was centred on undertaking some research. They found out about waste and waste management in the vicinity and used this knowledge to analyse the current waste situation in the school.
They designed a ‘waste survey’ which they carried out at regular intervals to highlight the waste issues and locate the problem areas. They also photographed and recorded all their findings.
Grace O’Connor explained that they decided to base their project around ‘waste’ because. “From our analysis in the school we found that there was definitely room for improvement so we decided to try and address it,” said Grace.
Following on from their research they decided to approach waste management in a more targeted way by focusing on specific types of recycling.
The group worked with the entire 2nd year CSPE class and their teacher Mrs. Bernie McAuliffe to carry out an action project which focused on the proper disposal of waste batteries.
A draw took place to encourage students to bring in household batteries and was huge success with one student bringing in almost 400 batteries.
On the days of the collection two stations were set up where people could come and drop off their batteries and in return get a line for a draw where the winner received €50 and there was a €25 second prize.
It was a huge success, with ten boxes of batteries being collected which have been collected by WEEE. As an added bonus WEEE donates to the LauraLynn Foundation so the collection helped support a great cause.
A lengthy report on the school’s project had to be submitted by Ms. Power along with the students to ECO UNESCO before the ‘Waste Not Want Not’ project could be considered for any type of external recognition. The hard work paid off as it won a place in the Munster heat of the Young Environmentalist Award which was held in the Lifetime Lab in Cork.
This took the form of a Dragon’s Den style event, with each school having to give a presentation of their project and then taking questions from the ‘dragons’.
The idea of taking part in such an event might prove daunting for many people but Emily Ring said: “The ‘dragon’s den’ wasn’t as gruelling an experience as I thought it would be. It turned out to be a great experience. The judges gave us great advice on ways we could improve our project.”
One of the most important aspects of the project was raising awareness, so together with the Millstreet Community School Student Council a school wide poster competition was organised. Students were given a broad brief which was based on promoting recycling. The winning posters will be reproduced and used around the school to encourage this. Almost fifty posters were produced to a very high standard.
The winners were chosen by Laura Cahill, ECO UNESCO Learning 2 Change Our World Officer. She judged them on how well they communicated and promoted the value of recycling. First place was Niall Murphy, second was Brídelle Cronin (both TY) and third was 1st year Siobhan Cronin.
Another creative way the group decided to raise awareness was by designing and creating outfits for the Transition Year Fashion Show which took place recently.
The garments were made from waste collected in the canteen during lunch times. TY and 5th year students were very actively involved in this element of the project along with teacher Ms Denise O’Leary who helped make the items.
The outfits were modelled on the night by Kelly Healy, Dylan O’Leary, Lisa O’Connor and Martin O’Riordan.
To put the final element of the project in place the students had to create new recycling bins. The 2nd year art class, supported by their teacher Mr. Barry Fraser, created a fantastic and fun Frog Bin which will now be used in school to encourage everyone to take a ‘ leap’ to change our world by placing recyclable items in it.
It is hoped to add to this collection of new bins in the months ahead.
Commenting on why they chose to begin creating their own recycling bins as part of this project, Denise Healy explained: “We wanted to do something that would bring about change in the school but we had a limited amount of time. We discovered that there wasn’t enough recycling being done in the school and so we felt that this was the best way to make a difference.”
Finally, news came through that the Waste Not Want Not project had been shortlisted for the ECO UNESCO Young Environmentalist Award 2015.
Commenting on the awards Elaine Nevin, National Director of ECO-UNESCO said: “Over the past number of years we have seen just how passionate and dedicated young people all over Ireland are to protecting and raising environmental awareness and this year is no exception.
“These finalists have helped to greatly improve their local environment through their hard work developing community gardens, organising litter clean ups, creating local biodiversity trails, the list is endless.
“We are delighted that Young Environmentalist Award 2015 is our biggest showcase to date.”
On receiving the news that the group had been shortlisted Danielle Mackey Hughes said, “I felt delighted. It’s a great achievement and a result of the efforts of a lot of people.”
After all that has happened, the students involved have had a lot to reflect on.
When asked to comment on the impact of the project in the school, Fionán Buckley explained, “It was interesting to see the attitudes of our fellow students change as the weeks progressed. The project was truly a group effort, with students and teachers working together.”
With regards to reducing, reusing and recycling, Ciara Manning is clear that this year’s effort on recycling in the school is only the start. She explained, “We hope that we can set up bins all around the school and to keep campaigning so that everyone gets the message about recycling.
“We also hope to create reusable, personalised water bottles which will definitely cut down on the amount of plastic bottles that need to be used.”
Her colleague Michela Malizia added: “It will be important to cut down on the disposable, ‘one-useonly’ items such as plastic cups and single portion biscuits, and also encouraging the purchase of foods that are sold loose rather than in plastic trays.”
The involvement in the ECO UNESCO project forms part of the Millstreet Community School’s efforts to introduce development education across the school over the coming years. It is supported by WorldWise Global Schools which is part of Irish Aid.
Above: Gerard O’Hanlon and Lisa O’Connor (TY’s) trying out the new recycling bin that formed part of the Young Environmentalist Award entry.
Right: Ms. Elaine Power with the winning entries of the Encouraging Recycling poster competition held in the school recently: Siobhan Cronin (3rd place), Niall Murphy (1st place), Brídelle Cronin (2nd place).