Green for go

Environmental credentials are becoming more important when it comes to our purchasing decisions, but eco-friendly products needn’t cost more, discovers Emma Griffin

Reusable branded cups

Put the mantra of ‘reuse, reduce and recycle’ into practice at coffee mornings and school fairs with school-branded reusable cups. Suitable for hot or cold drinks and with over ten mug and lid colours to choose from, PTA Heroes’ cups can match most crest or uniform colours. There is scope for adding a ‘please return’ message on each cup too, if you’re using them at events. Alternatively, consider selling them as a fundraising item to parents.

‘As a school set not only in an area of outstanding natural beauty but also a World Heritage Site, we are very aware of how important it is to protect the natural environment. For our welcome tea and cake morning for new intake parents, we wanted to get reusable cups that could be personalised and would be durable enough for catering dishwashers. PTA Heroes allowed us to design the cups to include “property of...” and “please return” statements, so people wouldn’t think we were giving them away.’

  • Kay Sherman, Friends of School chair, Bere Alston Primary Academy, Yelverton, Devon (149 pupils)

Recycled plastic trails

Replacing or maintaining tired wooden play equipment can be expensive and time-consuming. However, The Hideout House Company has launched a range of trim-trail play equipment made from recycled plastic rather than the more traditionally used round timber posts. Recycled plastic is virtually maintenance-free, lasts five times longer than timber on average, and doesn’t rot, splinter or crack. Manufactured from recycled plastic cartons, The Hideout House range includes play towers, play boats, mud kitchens and water tables. Safety surfacing made of recycled bonded rubber mulch can also be supplied.

‘The school’s old play equipment had reached the end of safe use. The wood had rotted in places and split in others. However, we were concerned that plastic wasn’t environmentally friendly. So we were pleased to find that The Hideout House Company manufactured their equipment from recycled plastic, which would last a long time. The children were really excited to think that the new trim trail had once been milk cartons. Now that the equipment is installed it looks sturdy and quite rustic in our play area. The children love it and we expect to get many years of use from it.’

  • Sharon Mason, headteacher, St Chad’s Catholic Primary, Dudley (209 pupils)

Walk to school challenge

Walking to school not only supports children’s physical fitness, it significantly reduces carbon emissions outside the school as parents leave their cars at home. This means better air quality for everyone. It can be difficult to encourage children (and their parents) to walk to school each day, but Living Streets’ WOW year-round walk to school challenge is tackling the issue head on. WOW is a pupil-led scheme in which children self-report how they get to school every day using the interactive WOW Travel Tracker. If they travel sustainably by walking, cycling or riding a scooter, they are rewarded with a badge. Made from repurposed plastic materials, there are 11 themed badges designed by children from around the UK to collect throughout the year. Participating schools have, on average, increased walking rates by 23% in the first five weeks. As well as using the badges and the Travel Tracker, schools who take part in WOW also receive exclusive access to three full lesson plans linked to the curriculum and designed to instil the healthy habit of walking, while teaching important lessons on road safety and the environment.

‘The children have been very enthusiastic about the WOW challenge and they love collecting the badges. We have seen a significant increase in the number of children and families choosing not to always take the car to school and we are very proud of our achievements.’

  • Lucy Williamson, teacher, Abbotswood Primary School, Bristol (291 pupils)

Planning for trees

If you are thinking about planting trees and creating a wooded area at your school, the Woodland Trust has resources to help. You can apply for a free tree pack, or buy saplings from the trust. Tree Tools for Schools is an online resource to assist teachers in deciding on the number and type of trees, and also where to plant them for best results. It includes an interactive planning tool, as well as games, quizzes and printable worksheets to make lesson planning simple. The section on aftercare includes a simulation showing how the trees will grow over ten years and the management they will need each season. Everything is curriculum-linked and teachers can search by key stage or subject, making it easy to teach children about the multiple benefits trees provide for people, wildlife and the environment.

‘The children have measured and plotted features on a paper map and given this to the older children to use the tree tool planner! We have made it into a competition and the children can revise their plans before submitting them. The eco council plans to organise a press release and certificates for our planting party. We are inviting parents and hopefully doing a fundraiser.’

  • Sally Wolff, Grass Roots Muddy Boots Forest School, various sites across North Yorkshire

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