Search

From keeping chickens to ditching milk cartons - how Suffolk schools are helping the planet

PUBLISHED: 14:44 06 February 2020 | UPDATED: 16:16 06 February 2020

Chicken monitors with some of the flock at Birchwood Primary School Picture: SARAH WAINER

Chicken monitors with some of the flock at Birchwood Primary School Picture: SARAH WAINER

SARAH WAINER

Young voices are amongst the loudest on the environmental crisis, and Suffolk youngsters are doing their bit within their school communities to make a difference.

Team Green members at the recycling station at Birchwood Primary School Picture: SARAH WAINERTeam Green members at the recycling station at Birchwood Primary School Picture: SARAH WAINER

Young voices are amongst the loudest on the environmental crisis, and Suffolk youngsters are doing their bit within their school communities to make a difference.

At Birchwood Primary School at Martlesham Heath in Ipswich children keep chickens and use a recycling station as part of efforts to be kinder to the planet.

And Worlingworth CEVC Primary School has recently switched from milk cartons to glass bottles as students continue to lead on being more eco-friendly.

Catering company Vertas, which responded to concerns from Worlingworth students over the use of single-use plastic cutlery, is also going further than before to lower its environmental impact.

Read more about some of the things are doing:

Head gardeners tending the leeks at Birchwood Primary School Picture: SARAH WAINERHead gardeners tending the leeks at Birchwood Primary School Picture: SARAH WAINER

What is Birchwood Primary School doing to be greener?

Birchwood is officially Suffolk's greenest school - according to the Suffolk Greenest County awards - and also holds the top Eco Schools accolade - the Green Flag.

Teacher Sarah Wainer, eco lead at the school, said caring for the environment is "deep within our ethos and feel passionate about it being at the heart of our curriculum".

She said: "We love to recycle and have our own recycling station collecting glasses, stamps, writing implements, crisp packets and batteries for the local community as well as recycling paper, card, plastic, glass, water and compost within school.

"We also try to work hard at reducing our waste and of course use of plastics - the children feel very passionate about this because of Blue Planet!"

The children's passion has also translated into persuasive power: catering firm Caterlink are now using big buckets of yoghurt rather than individual pots after the school council wrote to them requesting they make the change.

Mollie, Haneef, Guy and Lennon with their glass bottles of milk at Worlingworth Primary School  Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDMollie, Haneef, Guy and Lennon with their glass bottles of milk at Worlingworth Primary School Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

On top of this, the school community is reducing its use of clingfilm in packed lunches and the school office has asked companies to reduce packaging in deliveries as part of a pledge to cut down on plastic.

The children also have a deeper understanding of where their food comes from as they muck in with sowing and harvesting a wide variety of fruit and vegetables with the help of local residents Paul Firman and Derek Barnes.

Mrs Wainer said: "We sell the veg at our local market and have pop-up stalls in the playground all the time educating the children about local provenance, food miles and seasonality.

"There is lots of cooking involved too and discussions about food wastage. Our chickens are also a super education resource - they eat veg peelings from the school kitchen and provide wonderful eggs for us all to enjoy and because they are Defra approved we can cook and eat them in school too."

Through their 'Team Green', school council, chicken monitors, head gardeners and junior road safety officers, children are at the heart of the school's green efforts.

You may also want to watch:

"They all do a fab job leading all the above and inspiring others," Mrs Wainer said.

Families who have been inspired by their children should soon be able to borrow litter-picking equipment "so that they too can help to make a difference and protect their local environment" thanks to a recent link-up with Jason Alexander from the Suffolk-based Rubbish Walks social enterprise.

What is Worlingworth Primary School doing to be greener?

Children at Worlingworth Primary are continuing to make positive environmental changes at their school.

Last year they wrote a compassionate letter to catering company Vertas requesting that single-use plastics be ditched in favour of sustainable alternatives at lunchtimes.

Jo Ryan with youngster Eliska Mckenechnie, who wrote a letter about why she wanted to stop using the old milk cartons and change to more eco-friendly milk bottles Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDJo Ryan with youngster Eliska Mckenechnie, who wrote a letter about why she wanted to stop using the old milk cartons and change to more eco-friendly milk bottles Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Inspired by the students' commitment to the environment, Vertas obliged - replacing plastic cutlery and crockery with those made from washable stainless steel.

READ MORE: Primary school children convince caterers to ditch plastic at lunch time

Spurred on by this success, pupils then wrote to the school's milk supplier, Cool Milk, in an attempt to persuade them to stop using cartons that were not widely recycled.

The company agreed to the change and now sends milk in recyclable glass bottles, delighting the school's pupils.

Sophie Savage, head of school, said: "We're all very proud of the students.

"They are taking control of their future and using the skills they have learned to make a difference. The children are really pleased and aware that there's less plastic in school."

Clingfilm and plastic pots have also been scrapped in favour of recyclable aluminium foil as the school drastically reduced the amount of waste it sent to landfill.

Worlingworth Primary School pupils no longer use plastic cutlery during lunchtime  Picture: SONYA DUNCANWorlingworth Primary School pupils no longer use plastic cutlery during lunchtime Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

The school is also collecting items not commonly recycled, such as crisp packets, to take to nearby Bedfield Primary School to make use of their new recycling centre, which is collecting waste to send off in exchange for money.

Despite cutting down the amount of waste produced by mealtimes, the school is not resting on its laurels and has plans to work with the community and parish council on a wider project.

What is catering company Vertas doing to be greener?

Wendy Quantrill, communications and public relations manager, said: "Across Vertas we have made great strides to lower environmental impact, from reducing chemicals and water in our cleaning processes to producing rice husk coffee cups for some of our cafés. Our waste/environmental arm Vertas Environmental collects and recycles all school cooking oil and confidential shredding in smaller batches than is usual, making recycling more convenient and affordable for schools.

"We are trialling a system called Generation Juice for students to fill up with school-compliant juice in their own refillable bottles in two schools - Northgate High School in Ipswich and Hartismere High School. During the four-week trial at Hartismere alone we estimate we've saved 1,000 single use plastic bottles from being used.

Generation Juice has been trialled at Northgate High School in Ipswich and Hartimere High School. It sees students use their own refillable bottles, saving on plastic waste Picture: GENERATION JUICEGeneration Juice has been trialled at Northgate High School in Ipswich and Hartimere High School. It sees students use their own refillable bottles, saving on plastic waste Picture: GENERATION JUICE

"Our development team is currently trialling the 100% use of re-usable dishes for our 'pick and mix' offer in a primary school in Beccles and we are monitoring the financial and environmental implications of the additional time and hot water to wash and sterilise these containers."

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the East Anglian Daily Times