Module Case Study: Irelands first single use plastic free school

Newpark Comprehensive School Transition Year Action Project Example

The students spent 6 weeks learning about environmental issues and they then had to perform an action in relation to the issue that they had chosen in the latter 2 weeks of the module. The workshops were student led, ensuring that the students were engaged and that they were taking action on a topic that was important to them and on their level. This ensured the success of each module and action project.

One of the main messages from the module was that one group can’t fix the environmental issues that we are facing alone, that it is only by working with our communities, making relationships and sharing skills and tools that the problems can begin to be repaired. Therefore, each group of students were encouraged to engage with the out of school community.

Skills involved in executing these projects were developing an idea in to an action, project management and strategy, research, administration, time keeping, facilitation, coordinating skills, planning, social media, community engagement, public speaking, team collaboration and organization and confidence building.

Project 1: Rising Sea Levels

Students contacted the INSS sailing school in Dun Laoghaire to borrow a boat as a speaker’s awareness point for the students to peer educate 1st and 2nd years about rising sea levels and climate change. The boat was placed in the middle of the school yard for the students to peer educate from. The group ran 5 revolving participatory workshops on climate change and rising sea levels successfully peer educating over 140 students.

Project 2: Refillable Water Bottles

Students engaged with a local business to design and produce refillable water bottles. They sold these bottles to students to raise awareness about ‘Refill not Landfill’ and single use plastic water bottles.

Project 3: Beach clean Dun Laoghaire Peer

Students had to contact the harbor authority to collect the rubbish that they collected and their local county council office to provide rubbish bags. Students segregated the rubbish into 9 categories; cans, glass, metal, cloth, fishing materials, plastic, cardboard, single use plastic and cups and other to investigate who was responsible for littering. Students could then identify who the culprit was and create an action plan to educate who was responsible. We shared our results with Bray Educate Together through a skype call.

Project 4: Seabin

Students sold ice cream in school to raise money for ‘Flossies the beach cleaner’ and her Seabin. Flossie is a local 10-year-old sea activist. She raises awareness about plastic in our seas and she has raised €3700 for Irelands first Seabin, a device that cleans rubbish from the sea. The students contacted Flossie’s mother and their local county council office over this issue. The students raised awareness about the harm of plastic in our oceans and they raised €140 for the Seabin. The students presented Flossie with the money at the Plastic Outta the Park launch on March 16th.

Project 5: Plastic Outta the Park

Plastic Outta the Park module focused on irradicating single use plastic out of school. Student engagement was with the local spar and centra shops to change their meal deals, the inhouse canteen, Deputy Catherine Martin from the Green Party, Clean Coasts and Richard Boyd Barrett from People Before Profit to speak at their launch. They petitioned Minister Naughten and Minister Bruton. They liaised with hydro flask about designing their flask. The PTA for funding and the Board of Management to write a new plastic free policy and pitching to the new upcoming 1st year parents about plastic and the initiative. Newpark is now Irelands first single use plastic free school as a direct result of my sustainability classes. The groups video has had a reach of over 35,000 on facebook and youtube. Their twitter page has reached 120,000 impressions and raising.