Work begins with a review or assessment of the environmental impact of the school.
Eco-Schools may design the format and content for their Environmental Review. Eco-Schools making award applications must show that the school’s chosen themes – 1 theme for Bronze, 2 themes for Silver and 3+ themes for Green Flag – have been reviewed in-depth and that the results of the review have informed the Eco-Schools Action Plan.
Guidelines from Foundation for Environmental Education:
The results of your Environmental Review will inform your Action Plan; assisting your school to decide whether change is necessary, urgent, or not required at all. It will also help you to set realistic targets and measure your success.
The Environmental Review is crucial to understanding the current environmental situation in a school and provides the basis of the school’s Eco Action Plan (Step 3 of the Eco-Schools Programme Methodology).
Schools may first quantify the impacts for the themes they are working on (e.g. the amount of waste they are producing and sending to landfill, amount of paper they are consuming, amount of electricity they use, if they are recycling anything, litter blackspots, etc.) or cover all the areas in which the school may have environmental impact, e.g.:
- Waste Minimisation
- School Grounds
- Health & Well-Being
- Sustaining our World
The school is free to choose other areas of environmental concern that are more relevant to its needs and to devise appropriate checklists accordingly.
In general, schools will then qualify this information by working out, for example, what types of waste they are producing and where in the school the most waste is being generated (e.g. paper from the photocopier, waste from lunch packaging, etc). However, schools may also undertake a review that includes the wider community (e.g. examine recycling levels at home; examine community attitudes to climate change, etc.). One of the most important aspects of the review is to make sure that the results are well documented, displayed and disseminated. The school’s notice board is a great place for publicising and sharing results.
Completing an Environmental Review will ensure that no significant areas are overlooked and will help pupils and the wider school community understand the school’s current environmental situation.
You should ensure that the wider school community works as closely as possible with the Eco Committee to carry out the Review. It is particularly essential that as many pupils as possible participate in this process.
Please note that every school should conduct the Review in the way that suits them best, but they should ensure maximum pupil involvement at every stage.
Following the Environmental review, you will need to collect data for the Baseline Survey. It is recommended that an Environmental Review and Baseline Survey be carried out on an annual basis in order to measure and evaluate the continuing progress of the school’s environmental performance.
This is a very effective way of evaluating your targets and comparing your new responses with those that you originally made which will give you a clear indication of the school’s overall progress towards its eco targets and will help you to plan future eco work.