Keen not to contribute any further to the high volumes of plastic waste produced locally and globally, students at St Mary’s School, Colchester have taken the decision to no longer use single-use plastic water bottles with packed lunches, choosing more environmentally-friendly re-usable containers instead.
The water bottle ban was suggested by the school’s student-led Eco Team, whose members are encouraging the student body to make use of refillable bottles. This is largely to reduce the number of plastic water bottles reaching landfill, but also to ensure that students are not harmed by chemicals from over-used bottles that can leak into drinking water.
St Mary’s, an independent day school for girls aged 3–16 and boys 3–4, is one of a handful of schools in the UK with ‘Ambassador Eco-School’ status and has a real commitment to sustainability.
St Mary’s Eco-Schools Co-ordinator, Mrs Sarah Wilding, said, “After reading The Guardian article ‘A million bottles a minute: world’s plastic binge as dangerous as climate change’, our Eco Team felt compelled to act. The ban on single-use water bottles and our Eco Week events gives us the opportunity to send the message to the rest of the school community. The students presented their research and ideas about how the whole school can get involved during a special assembly.”
‘St Mary’s is one of a handful of schools in the UK with ‘Ambassador Eco-School’ status and has a real commitment to sustainability.’
The school recycles as many materials as possible and initiatives are in place across the school to ‘reduce or re-use’, including:
– Recycling all packaging and reusing for art projects
– Making good use of the local freecycle in order to obtain items for school use such as water butts and plants/seeds for the school gardening club as well as offering items the school no longer needs
– Supporting ‘Bras for Breast Cancer’
– Being part of the organisation ‘Virtual Skip’
– Uniform recycling for cash to re-invest in eco projects
– Considering environmentally sound options, such as timed lighting and installation of photovoltaic solar panels, when carrying out refurbishment at St Mary’s School
St Mary’s also works very closely with Colchester Borough Council in promoting Eco-Schools and sharing knowledge and experience of eco-friendly school initiatives. Last year the school co-hosted a conference with the council with plans to repeat again in spring 2018. St Mary’s also has an association with Essex Wildlife Trust to protect and enhance the biodiversity of the school grounds and Essex Wildlife Trust staff regularly lead environmental workshops for students.
To learn more about St Mary’s School, please visit: stmaryscolchester.org.uk