Our kids really do want to save the planet! In February pupils from across the UK went on strike from school in protest as part of a global campaign for action on climate change which calls on the government to declare a climate emergency and take active steps to tackle the problem.

In the same month, research firm Kids Insights, who conduct the UK’s most comprehensive, reliable and regular surveys into the attitudes and preferences of children and tweens, published their latest trend predictions for the next 12 months. Their Future Forecast predictions include major changes in how brands will present their products due to increased levels of environmental concern. One in three children now think about the effect of their actions on the environment, up from one in four in early 2018. Kids Insights’ analysts say this will start to bring changes in packaging and give brands a way to regain some consumer trust. Additional research* has revealed that pollution is our children’s biggest worry for the future, followed by the extinction of animals and rising sea levels. In the UK-wide survey of 1,000 children aged four to 14, eighty seven per cent said they believe that ‘saving the environment’ should be taught in schools, and over one third (38%) said they were very concerned about the future of the environment.

What discussing these issues with children has shown is an incredibly strong urge to educate themselves fully about the damage mankind is causing and a desire to change our bad habits now in order to put things right for their future. So, as parents how can we help them and do better for Mother Earth? Leading by example and making a few simple changes to our lifestyle, such as changing how we shop, thinking more about the products we buy, and how we dispose of the waste, are small steps towards making a huge difference and will show our kids that we really care about the future world too. In this feature, we look at what’s going on in schools and communities and how to get involved in the eco-warrior mission…

*Survey by Explore Learning, March 2017.


The Odyssey Trust and Belfast City Council have joined forces to launch a new campaign Earth to Odyssey, which is designed to inspire families across Northern Ireland to ‘Make A Change’ and protect our planet. The campaign, which will run throughout March, will highlight key environmental issues and provide guidance on how small changes can have a big and positive impact in the long term.

#MakeAChange environmental education workshops will take place at W5 running on selected dates until March 17 and the live show Blue Planet II will be on at The SSE Arena, Belfast on March 23. For a full ‘Earth to Odyssey’ programme visit w5online.co.uk/our-blog/2019/earth-to-odyssey

Check out some incredible sculptures made from recycled material!
Sculptures will be situated outside the Odyssey complex in Belfast throughout March and are FREE for visitors to explore.

‘Pod of Shame’– This sculpture is made from a variety of household waste items including electrical equipment. Made by local artist Colin McKnight. This walk-in pod asks us who we think is responsible for generating the waste around us. Walk inside and find out!

‘Fish out of Water’– This sculpture is made from plastic bottles collected from recycling centres in Belfast. Made In 2008 by local artist Alan Cargo, the sculpture encourages us to think about our excessive use of disposable plastic bottles.

‘Strange Fruit’– This sculpture is made from car tyres and old shoes collected from Belfast City Council’s Ormeau and Palmerston Road Recycling Centres. Made by local artist Alan Cargo, the sculpture focuses on people’s carbon footprint and the impact their own lifestyle has on the environment.

‘Waste Age’/ Try-Recyclemoraus– This sculpture is made from electrical waste from a recycling centre in Belfast. It aims to show the kind of ‘finds’ archaeologists might dig up in the future. As the price of electrical items continues to drop, it can be tempting to replace old items as soon as they start to falter.

Sculptures have been provided by Belfast City Council.

Launching the competition are pupils from Crumlin Integrated Primary School pictured L-R: C. Byrne, John Shannon, Lucas Hall, Mia McCann, Abigail Armstrong.


Pupils across Northern Ireland are being invited to take part in a ‘moving’ art competition to celebrate 10 years of the Eco-Schools and Translink Travel Challenge. Since the challenge’s launch, over 105,000 sustainable journeys have been made by pupils choosing more active travel modes in an effort to cut car congestion at the school gates, protect the environment and boost their health and wellbeing.

The #Smartmovers Art Competition offers a unique opportunity for one pupil’s winning design to be displayed on the side of Translink buses in their local area. Pupils are being asked to showcase their views on sustainable transport and their dream Eco-School in this creative contest.

This bright idea forms part of this year’s Translink Eco Schools Travel Challenge which schools can undertake over a 2-week period during the spring or summer terms.

Ursula Henderson, Translink, says, “There are fantastic teaching resources and prizes up for grabs if saving the planet isn’t incentive enough!Translink is pleased to support the Translink Eco Schools Travel Challenge and encourage pupils, their teachers and parents to make a modal shift to walk, cycle or take public transport to school as a way of supporting an active and sustainable lifestyle. This year’s 10thanniversary art competition will celebrate young people’s views on ‘active travel’ and provide an eye-catching platform to raise the profile of important health and environmental issues.”

Ruth Van Ry, Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful, added, “There’s never been a more important time to promote the message of sustainable transport as a recent study shows two thirds of pupils still travel by car to school despite half living less than a mile away.”

The closing date for the art competition is April 5 with the winning design being displayed on buses during Translink’s Bus and Train Week in early June. Full details of the competition, are available at eco-schoolsni.org. Schools can register for the TravelChallenge and resources at translink.co.uk/ecoschools/

Pupils from Forge Integrated Primary School with (Back Row L-R) Mrs Salmon, Forge Integrated Primary School; Jonathan Glendinning, EA Assistant Director Facilities Management; John Coney, EA Energy and Environment Officer; Ruth Van Ry, KNIB Eco-Schools and Philip McMurray, DAERA.


The Education Authority in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful Eco Schools has launched a Plastic Waste in Schools Competition which invites Key Stage 2 (P5 to P7) and Key Stage 3 (Year 8 to Year 10) school pupils to investigate the use of single-use plastics in their school.

Participating schools will be required to audit, monitor, and analyse the differing types of plastic that come into their school environment, explore what their primary uses are, look at how plastics are managed and consider what happens to these plastics after use. Entrants will be invited to propose innovative solutions for the re-use of plastic to avoid disposal or identify how they might help to eliminate any or all single-use plastics in their school environment. Participating schools will submit a written article and / or short video production, no longer than three minutes in length to EA, reporting their findings and proposed solutions.

John Coney, EA Energy and Environment Officer said: The purpose of the competition is to encourage plastic waste reduction in the school community.  The competition will challenge children and young people to identify the extent of plastic waste in individual school settings and explore developing innovative solutions to minimise or eliminate this waste entirely.

EA maintains an ongoing focus on its environmental responsibilities and the competition allows children and young people to play their part.”

Colin Breen, Head of the Single-Use Plastic, Waste Prevention and Waste Recycling Policy Team, DAERA commented: “The equivalent of a lorry load of plastic ends up in the oceans every minute and studies have shown that 50 per cent of the rubbish washed up on European beaches is single-use plastic with the majority of that coming from our towns and cities. I look forward to all of the creative and innovative ideas that will flow from all of the school children who get involved in this competition.”

Monetary prizes will be awarded to schools placed 1st (£500), 2nd (£300) and 3rd (£200) in each of the KS2 and KS3 categories.  Schools can submit their competition entry by the closing date of Wednesday April 17, 2019 by emailing plastics.competition@eani.org.uk. Further information can be found on the EA website.


Ahead of its second Global Recycling Day, the Global Recycling Foundation has launched a special education pack to inspire schools around the world to think ‘resource not waste’ and celebrate Global Recycling Day on March 18. As part of this year’s theme, ‘Recycling into the Future’, Global Recycling Day 2019 is focusing on the power of youth and education in ensuring a brighter future for our children.

The pack can be downloaded from globalrecyclingday.com and is designed to make it easy for teachers to plan a lesson around recycling and inspire their students with the power of recycling, outlining various ways in which schools and classes can take part in the worldwide Global Recycling Day celebrations. The Global Recycling Foundation also encourages schools to lead a litter pick-up in their local area and invite children to get involved in cleaning up the planet in a hands-on yet fun way.


Schools, colleges and universities will have the opportunity to make their budgets go a little bit further thanks to the launch of a new site that is exclusively for education institutions.

At a time when funds are constantly being stretched, reuse4education.com is a free, easy to use online platform that allows educational institutions to buy, sell, swap and loan anything from photocopiers and PE equipment, to musical instruments and books.

The service has been created by Mark Abrahams, the CEO of Recycle Your Cycle, an innovative programme run in partnership with HM Prison Service that sees over 300 bikes and more than 100 vacuums being refurbished by UK offenders every month.

Mark says, “While buying, selling and recycling furniture, books and clothes on a personal level is common place, this isn’t generally the norm in educational settings, but with this site, it could be. Whether you need a new set of French textbooks or stacks of old classroom chairs are taking up valuable space in your school hall, you can add them to reuse4education.”

One teacher, said “As a science teacher in an 11-16 secondary school, I often find myself wanting pieces of equipment for lessons that wouldn’t justify the cost of only being used once a year. I love the idea of sharing such equipment between schools and allowing the students to access even better resources for their learning!”

Users simply sign up and list the equipment they need, as well as the things they no longer require and want to donate to someone else. As well as items being listed on the website, an email is sent out to members once a week as a reminder that a wealth of resources are there for the taking.


In February, the third annual Keep Northern Ireland Beautiful Community Awards in Belfast City Hall honoured the unsung heroes who dedicate their time and efforts into making our communities cleaner, greener, safer and more sustainable.

Three young eco-warriors were among the winning volunteers. The Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council Litter Heroes Award went to Anna Neal. Anna created the website protectourpristineseas.com, to share her passion for our oceans with others. She organised 13 beach cleans in 2018, the most recent of which attracted over 30 people. Anna has turned her passion for the oceans into action, has raised awareness and gathered the community together, including the harbour authorities who joined their most recent clean.

Live Here Love Here Manager Jodie McAneaney with Cameron and Chair of Policy and Resources Committee, Councillor Ruth Wilson.

The Mid and East Antrim Litter Heroes Award went to 15-year-old Cameron Liddle.  Cameron is a dedicated litter picker, over the past year he has lifted around 100 bags of litter from the Larne and Carrickfergus areas.  He is out lifting litter at every opportunity and at least on a weekly basis in and around Carrickfergus and Larne areas. His dad keeps a litter picker and black bags in his boot so that they are ready to go. He even took his litter picker to Donegal so he could continue the effort while on holiday.

And mum Vicky Seviour-Crockett picked up The Mid Ulster Litter Heroes Award. Vicky has carried out litter picks for nearly five years, showing her dedication to Adopt A Spot and her example has motivated others to get involved. She has even introduced ‘plogging’ to her running group. She recycles what she finds on litter picks with Terracycle who in turn make a donation to her chosen charity. She has raised over £1,000 for Kicks Count from biscuit wrappers alone, a charity that promote baby movement awareness to reduce still birth, without which her son William (pictured proudly holding his mum’s award) may not be here today to help litter pick beside her.

To find out more or get involved with Live Here Love Here visit the website liveherelovehere.org

Heather Black

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