Oakwood Park Grammar School cares about sustainability and is committed to being a secondary school that does something about it. Our aim is to inspire and engage our students, staff and parents, so we can work together to comply with the government legislation to combat zero carbon net emissions by 2050 and make positive changes to ensure OPGS has a sustainable mind set. Since September 2019, we have started to create practical changes, through education, support, and inspirational projects around the school and the local community to help create a greater ethos of sustainability. Mrs Alltimes, as the Lead Teacher of Sustainability has begun implementing positive changes in the school environment, implementing ideas and projects such as starting several recycling schemes, creating more wild spaces and setting up “Green Club”, which consists of volunteer students, as well as a few members of staff, who are passionate about local sustainable projects, national environmental issues, and wildlife conservation.
Maidstone’s wildlife has suffered with a huge amount of habitat loss in the last few decades and so Mrs Alltimes and Green Club decided to create a few wildlife areas around the school to encourage birds, insects and bees, as well as plant more trees to help support the net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. One of the wildlife areas is a wildflower meadow, the group felt this was particularly important, because it would provide a vital wildlife space to the much-endangered bee population.
Our aim is for young people to reconnect with nature and learn how to become more sustainable. OPGS realises that many secondary schools do very little about green and sustainable thinking and learning, but we are making changes to ensure our students can help to change the future, with the innovational opportunities that are being delivered. OPGS wants to be one of the leading secondary schools in the sustainability movement.
- For all the hard work and progress our Green Club students and staff made in the short time between September 2019 and March 2020, we are pleased to announce we have been awarded the Department of Education Sustainability Award 2020.
- Despite the challenges that COVID-19 has created this year, OPGS is determined to continue to make more sustainable changes. The amount of single use plastic that has been used to help combat COVID-19 is already having a huge impact on the environment, so we are working hard to get our mixed recycling and crisp packet recycling back up and running as soon as we can.
- Other projects OPGS are working on is extending and maintaining the wild flower meadow and the wildlife pond.
- The last few weeks we have noticed more wild flowers appearing in our wild flower meadow, adding some summery colour to the school site and a place for wildlife to thrive.
We would like to encourage staff and students to wear reusable masks instead of single use masks, as these are often not recyclable and contain plastic microparticles. This is not only a more cost-effective solution, but it will also have less of an impact on the environment – as it will reduce the amount of rubbish/plastic pollution.
We also commend students and staff to bring a sustainable packed lunch to school, here are some helpful tips on how to achieve this:
- Bring a reusable stainless steel water bottle to school, there are many benefits – they keep drinks cool for up to 24 hours and bacteria growth is slower on stainless steel than it is on plastic. Another option would be a plastic reusable bottle but ensure they are BPA free and avoid bottles with fancy lids/straws in, as these are more difficult to clean. Avoid single use plastic drink bottles – it takes approximately 450 years or more for a plastic water bottle to decompose.
- Bring reusable plastic/stainless steel boxes/ Beeswax food wraps or cotton sandwich bags to keep food fresh inside lunch boxes/bags – Avoid cling film and/or single use plastic sandwich bags.
- Buy sustainable snacks or buy food in bulk and cut into smaller sections for example cut a small section of cheese from a large block rather than buying individually wrapped cheese – Avoid single use plastic individually wrapped food items.
The school recently received 10 free copies of the book Guardians of the Planet: How to be an Eco-Hero, from the Reading Agency and have given them to members of the Virtual Sustainability club, with the feedback form the students so far being really positive!