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College turns eco eye onto plastics

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STUDENTS and staff have pulled together to dramatically increase Elizabeth College’s recycling level – and their next target is to tackle single use plastic.

‘Eco prefect’ Sam Ferry, 18, with teacher Sharka Lee, who spearheaded recycling efforts at Elizabeth College. (Picture by Steve Sarre, 23602866)

An eco project at the school was started eight months ago by art and photography teacher Sharka Lee in a bid to make the school a more environmentally friendly place.

The eco team is made up of teachers and supporting staff as well as students.

Ms Lee, the eco team coordinator, said her motivation for starting the project was seeing all the school’s waste going straight in a skip. She wanted to push for change.

‘We are currently focused on reduction of plastic use,’ she said.

‘Everybody thinks of recycling, but reduction is very important.’

Changes include recycling bins in both the junior and secondary schools and modified water fountains so students can refill their water bottles.

They have also been working to eliminate polystyrene food containers, set up a team of eco prefects and installed food waste and recycling bins in the refectory.

Eco prefect Sam Ferry, 18, undertakes refectory duty, making sure students put waste in the correct bins. He shares this duty with a team of eco prefect students. He said the need to reduce and recycle was an issue in Guernsey at the moment – something he had learned while studying A-level geography, as part of which students studied Guernsey’s waste management.

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On the project’s initiative to reduce and recycle plastic, he said: ‘It’s constantly in the news at the moment, so it’s already in people’s minds. It’s a good start to be doing this at school, then people can carry on at home.’

Parents have got involved too. The Friends of Elizabeth College is coordinating with Guernsey’s Pollinator Project to plant flowers across the school to create a corridor where insects such as bees can thrive.

Ms Lee said now that improvements to recycling have been made, the project had refocused. ‘The next aim is to try and eliminate, or significantly reduce, the single use plastic,’ she said.

This issue was brought to the fore by Elizabeth College Junior School students last year when they held an Eco Day that saw Year 6 prefects urge fellow students to give up single use plastic for Lent.

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This year, the Eco Day will focus on the reduction of single use plastic found in lunchboxes.

Ms Lee said the project had evolved and they had learned from mistakes.

‘We are recycling everything that can possibly be recycled now,’ she said.

Ms Lee said the success of the project would not have come about without the support from school principal Jenny Palmer.

‘She really got behind it, plastics are now on a school developmental plan, from September 2018, she is really pushing it forward,’ she said.

Next week Years 7 to 11 will have a special assembly looking at how the school can reduce its plastic use.

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