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Eco team makes a big impact at Elizabeth College

Eco team makes a big impact at Elizabeth College

Friday 17 December 2021

Eco team makes a big impact at Elizabeth College

Friday 17 December 2021

Elizabeth College is celebrating the spectacular success of its eco team, including a reduction in the number of plastic bottles sold at the College from 5,000 just two years ago to zero this year.

The eco team has also removed more than 20 tonnes of sour fig from Guernsey’s coastline and led efforts to reuse 50 litres of food waste each week as compost in the College allotments.

Not long ago, the allotments were full of poor soil but students working them are now producing a plentiful supply of food for the College refectory.

The eco team was brought together three years ago by art and photography teacher Sharka Lee. Students and staff acknowledge the importance of her leadership and encouragement across the eco agenda.


Pictured: Year 8 students in Herm taking part in the Great British Beach Clean.

“We started three years ago,” said Ms Lee. “I noticed a lot of people were talking about what could be changed but nobody was pushing that agenda forward. I started to meet with a few colleagues and then with a students’ eco team as well.

“It seems to be working. We have raised the profile of environmental responsibility and activity at College, which is important.”

Year 12 student James Kennedy is a member of the eco team. He said the team can see that it is making progress.

“We help educate students in living a healthier lifestyle and a more environmentally beneficial lifestyle,” he said.

“Our two aims are to promote environmental education within College and to help the College be more environmentally aware in how we act.

“We believe that educating our students on how they can improve their lifestyle to be more climate friendly will have a positive impact now and provide them with important skills for life after school.”

He said that among the eco team’s objectives for the New Year are increasing the space for cycles to be parked on site after a surge in the number of students wanting to ride to school and developing more sophisticated ways of measuring the College’s impact on the environment.


Pictured: The College's eco team reviewing plans for additional bike storage which is needed to sustain a big increase in the popularity of cycling to and from school. 

“The bike racks have been teeming with bikes. A lot of students have wanted to cycle in recently. But we don’t have the capacity to fit them all in. It’s chaos up there,” he said.

“We have an area behind the sports hall which is currently dedicated to storage – so we’re going to convert it into a new bike rack storage area. We hope that will encourage even more students to cycle.”

The eco team is keeping its fingers crossed that the new bike rack storage area will be ready for September, which is also when the College expects to start using its new building, Perrot Court, next door to the existing site.

Dr Trevor Addenbrooke, an Assistant Principal, said that education and responsibility sit at the heart of the College’s eco efforts.

“We are a school – an educational institution – and we want our students to head off into the world academically equipped and emotionally equipped to tackle the big, global issues of climate change and environmental stewardship,” said Dr Addenbrooke. “But also, as a school, we want to be thinking about our own impact on the environment.”


Pictured: Students enjoying Eco Day, which has become an annual event in the College's resurgent efforts to promote good stewardship of the environment locally and globally. 

The College’s allotments, which are at a site run by Edible Guernsey, are overseen by Brian Aplin, Head of Year 10 and a geography teacher. Every student in Year 9 spends at least some time working at the allotments and it is available as an enrichment option for students in Years 10 to 13.

“We have grown,” said Mr Aplin. “We had a minibus full of students each week and we now have two minibuses which are often full.

“At this time of year, we are wheelbarrowing large amounts of manure onto the site so that during the rest of the year we get rotation of planting.

“We supply quite a lot of food to the College refectory. I have gone from being fairly demoralised about the poor state of the greenhouse and the soil to seeing students produce quite impressive and diverse crops for the refectory.”


Pictured: The staff eco team and supporters working at the College's pollinator patch.

In 2019, the College purchased 5,800 plastic sandwich packs, but it has now switched to packaging from Vegware, a food services company which uses plant-based compostable material.

The College’s allotments also reuse sawdust from design and technology classes, shredded paper from reprographics, grass cuttings from sports fields, tea bags and fruit peelings from the staff common room and vraic collected from Fort George.

Year 7 students are involved in the maintenance of the College’s pollinator patches, which form part of the island’s network of pollinator corridors.

Pictured (top): Students working at the College's allotments. All Year 9 students spend some time at the allotments and several students in Years 10 to 13 choose to work at the allotments as an enrichment option.

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