Compared to Europe, our homes on average have greater environmental impact
for energy, water, waste and transport.
Over the last 10 years we have built our houses bigger, 99% heated by fossil fuels,
and travel much longer distances to work.
The average Irish home emits 8 tonnes of CO² per year,
twice as much as the European equivalent.
In terms of environmental issues Ireland has a long way to go in a lot of areas
for example with CO² emissions,
we're quite a lot higher than our European counterparts
and even in relation to waste output, energy efficiency,
we have a lot of work to do.
The key to change in our home may lie in our schools.
In 1997 An Taisce introduced the Green Schools Scheme,
a project to help children as young as 5,
understand how they can make a difference to the environment.
Over 70% of primary schools now participate in the scheme.
Who can tell me what does it mean to be a Green School? Shauna?
We recycle cans, corks, phones and paper.
You can put a bucket.....
St Bridget's National School in Palmerstown, West Dublin
was one of the first schools to become involved in the Green School Scheme.
They've now been awarded their third Green Flag for litter, water and energy.
Way back in 1999 a former colleague of ours, Nora McKevitt, decided
that she was going to embrace the challenge of
heightening environmental awareness in the school.
She drew up a plan to incorporate environmental friendliness in our curriculum.
How can we bring the message home?
How can we make our homes greener?
You can use rainwater to water your plants instead of using water out of the sink
because you will be wasting water.
We use energy saving light bulbs and they're in all the classrooms
and even in Ms Convoy's office.
Every class has a green bin for green paper and that is recycled.
Every class has a compost bin
and the children who are members of the green team
ensure that that is composted outside.
It's good for the plants. What stuff goes into the compost bin?
The food, the banana skins and the peelings.
Our senior pupils are so immersed in the whole idea of being green
that they mentor and educate the younger children
and so it's a cycle of learning in the school.
In 2007 St Bridget's decided to take the green initiative one step further
by taking it into the home.
All the girls were encouraged to teach their parents
about recycling, composting and saving energy,
reducing their carbon footprint by taking small steps.
Welcome to the Green Home Meeting
and thank you very much for having us here at Palmerstown.
I'll begin the Green Home Meeting...
The Green Home Scheme introduced by An Taisce
and supported by environmental officers in Local Authorities
has been rolled out through schools across Ireland.
Once a week parents attend meetings about environmental issues.
I changed all of my bulbs one day feeling really guilty after a meeting here at school,
cost me a fortune and I thought why can we not have them made cheaper?
The energy saving bulbs last. I mean I have one in my house
and my mum has one in her house as well, I don't think she's ever changed it.
It's there for years. I know it's an initial investment.
So has the Green Home initiative made a difference?
The EPA, partners with An Taisce in the scheme, says that it has.
It's worked extremely well, we've had great participation so far,
we've had, over phase one and phase two of the programme,
we've had over 2700 families involved
and moving into phase 3, we're actually just under 7000 families now at the moment
so you're already working with a captive audience
and an interested audience so it's just to expand it out further.
95% of participants in the Green Home Programme felt that the
Green Home Programme had raised their awareness on environmental topics
so only 5% of our population actually remained
unaffected by the Green Home Programme.
I got involved because of a very persuasive 9 year old.
She was introduced to the Green Home Programme in the school
and as parents we thought it was a good idea if we signed up.
You change your habits,
you make sure you put certain things in a recycling bin
and certain things in a black bin
and as I say you get used to it very quickly.
Well my daughter is a Green Girl here in the school
and she bullies us into recycling everything at home
and turning off everything,
she never leaves anything on standby.
I would have left things on,
left the tap on and stuff, and I don't do that any more
because she's behind me, wagging her finger at me, telling me I can't do it.
To be honest with you most of what happens in my home
is really through what my child has brought home from school.
So really if it wasn't for the Green Schools,
I don't think the Green Homes would be doing so well,
but now it's turn off lights, unplug other electrical equipment.
It just makes you think much more.
Mother of two Mairead O'Byrne from Palmerstown
has always had an active interest in the environment
and became involved in the Green Home Scheme
through her 9 year old daughter Ailish.
Ailish would have come home and been full of the ideas of
"Oh yes where do we put our glass and where do we put our paper?"
and things like that.
So we have our container here for the glass
and we have our container over there for the paper.
Well lifestyle I suppose; we don't have a car by choice.
I rent if we are going on holidays
and otherwise we use public transport for going into town.
It's also part of our life, I mean we grow what vegetables we can,
I compost, anything that's biodegradable we put in the compost.
I turn off lights and I don't heat the house upstairs in winter.
I phoned the ESB for a printout of our usage
they'll give you a 5 year feedback just to look out
and he even commented on it
"Oh you've got quite a low usage of electricity".
When I hear what other people are paying I think what are they doing?
In our current economic downturn
these are the sort of measures that will not only help our environment
but will save us money.
Simple measures such as changing to energy efficient light bulbs,
managing our use of electricity in the home
and reducing our space heating temperature
can easily save one fifth of our energy bills.
If we all reduced our home energy usage by 20% in both heat and electricity
we could each on average save €400 per house per year,
This amounts to €600 million saved nationally.
So far the Green Home Initiative is an undoubted success.
By raising awareness in schools, families have made changes at home
and that in turn has had a positive impact on the entire Palmerstown community.
The Green Homes Initiative has had a very positive effect
on our community and on our parents
For example, I know from the statistics taken by An Taisce
that of the 23% that were already switching off electrical appliances at night
that number has now risen to 47%.
67% of those attending were switching off their lights at night
and that has gone up to 73% and that's a very big step.
Don't chuck away that empty can
Remember start recycling...
This type of programme will assist the individual
I suppose to learn the simple steps, the very simple steps, that
we can all as individuals do,
to help improve our environmental impact,
and in that way, working all as one big community
we will get there eventually.
No more pussyfooting, no more claptrap
get yourself doing the recycling wrap. Yeah.
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