Green Week is a week of actions and activities that work against the pollutants that are affecting our climate and environment. It aims to raise awareness and provide information to people in order to educate them and support better decision making around their future environmental choices. It is a week of empowerment that motivates everyone to realise they can make a difference.
Why did GCI GBS arrange Green Week?
We arranged Green Week to encourage staff and students to spend a week focusing on how they can reduce waste and recycle more efficiently. The week also gave us the opportunity to provide information on areas of concerns in our environment, such as plastics in our seas, and the collapse of bee colonies around the world. In addition to this, we provided tips on how they can help these issues. Overall, we wanted to make everyone aware that they too can make a difference and these small differences can bring about big changes.
Green Week Galway Cultural Institute
What did we do during the week?
In the weeks prior to Green Week we started preparations by improving school facilities. A new recycling bin was ordered to ensure everyone had the resources to recycle their waste during the week. We also decided to take this opportunity to update to more efficient water coolers and cut back on our usage of paper cups. We now have GCI GBS aluminium reusable bottles available for students to buy.
Our wonderful GCI and GBS students kindly volunteered and our very own Green Team was formed. A Green Team is a group of people who come together to work towards an overall goal of helping the environment. As a team their actions and activities can improve the world around them and motivate others to do the same. The dedicated GCI and GBS Green Team assisted in the preparations for Green Week, helped out in the activities during the week, while spreading the word to other students within the school.
The week’s events were posted widely on the school’s display screens and helped to ensure students had something to look forward to everyday. During lunchtime we screened the BBC series Planet Earth (www.bbc.co.uk) to serve as a reminder of the very things we are trying to protect and preserve through our Green Weeks campaign.
Reusable water bottles available at reception
A number of workshops were held to share creative and innovative eco-friendly ideas. Our first innovative workshop provided guidelines on making eco-friendly cleaning products - a great alternative to the environmentally hazardous substances found in most household cleaning products. Another workshop focused on making decorative products out of recycling material – allowing us to get creative with our upcycling ideas! As Green Week was in the run up to Christmas, we focused on making Christmas decorations out of recycled material.
However, the highlight of week was our local beach clean.
What is a Beach Clean-up and why is it important?
A beach clean-up usually comprises of a group of volunteers, who come together to clean their beaches and coastlines. It is very important as it reduces the rubbish entering our coastlines as it is having catastrophic consequences on ocean life and ocean eco-systems. Many of the objects that float out in to the sea do not decompose and remain in the water where it is then consumed as food by birds and wildlife. Approximately 1.4 billion pounds of rubbish is being dumped into the oceans each year, with plastic found to be the most common element. Research has found over one million seabirds die of pollution each year. The beach clean-up not only provides locals with nice clean beaches but combats the damaged being caused to the environment.
Green Week Heroes
How did we organise the Beach Clean-Up?
Organising the beach clean-up began by visiting our local Galway Aquarium (www.nationalaquarium.ie) . They often organise their own beach clean-ups so we felt it was a good place to start and get advice from the experts. The staff were very helpful in giving advice on what beaches to clean and more importantly a time when the tide would be out so we could gain access to the beach. Following this we contacted Galway City County Council (www.galwaycity.ie) to inform them we would be cleaning the beach, what beach we would clean and the time and date. The City County Council provided great support for the initiative; they arranged and supplied gloves and rubbish bags for our volunteers. Following the clean-up they also collected the rubbish bags to dispose of them correctly.
Our next step was to advertise the event and gather our group of volunteers. We put signs up around the school and added it to our activity timetable. There was also help from the Green Team and teachers as they helped to promote it in the classrooms to other students. It was very encouraging to see our students and teachers come together and put their names down to take part in the clean-up.
How did the Clean-up go?
The day finally arrived and we all met in the Halla Mór to put on our wet gear and gather our supplies. Luckily, the school is located on the beautiful Salthill promenade on the Wild Atlantic Way in Galway, and our building is in close proximity to a number of beaches. The fact the this was a local initiative meant we were even more motivated!
We spread out in groups of two to cover the whole area of beach and started to collect the rubbish. From the outset, the reaction from everyone was amazement of the items they found on the beach. On a beach, which initially looked clean, we found socks, shoes, makeup brushes, ropes, fishing netting, piles and piles of plastic objects and even a traffic cone! By the end of the clean, we had bin bags full of rubbish and it is fair to say everyone felt very proud of their efforts and achievements.
Getting ready for the clean up
What’s next in GCI/GBS Green initiative?
On the final day of Green Week we planted some spring flowers in the flower beds in front of the school. This will bring Green Week into the new year! It will be a joy to watch them grow and will be a reminder of the great week we had.
As Green Week has been so well-received we have decided to hold a Green Week a number of times throughout the year. We are already planning what we will be doing in the next year. As a school we will strive to continuously improve our waste management facilities and encourage students, staff and visitors to recycle more and reduce waste.