Country Cousins in Ilfracombe, Devon, is pioneering green energy in the education sector. Their teaching department is paper free. They have installed a rainwater harvesting tank and solar panels. Now, they are also trying to reduce single use plastics within the school! Social issues such as energy use and climate change feature on the school’s syllabus and so the Director, Jose Brinkmann, wanted to “practise what they were preaching”.
The rainwater tank can store 2,000 litres of water from the roof; this water is used in practical applications such as flushing toilets. The school now needs 80% less water! The tank holds back rainwater during storms, freeing up space in the sewerage network – an issue significantly relevant to Devon which frequently suffers flooding.
Additionally, the school is now fully self-sufficient regarding energy use. The solar panels generate enough electricity for the offices, class projectors, and all of the lights.
Country Cousins hasn’t stopped there in conservation efforts and has introduced tablets to lessons, to reduce the school’s paper consumption. In the UK a school can produce between 22-45 kg of waste each year, most of which is paper. However, Country Cousins have reduced paper usage so much that they have removed the copier/printer from the teaching department. Lessons are now taught with online resources, projectors and tablets.
Of course, a current societal concern is single-use plastics; to ensure students do not need to buy bottles of water daily, the school now supplies free, reusable water bottles. These aren’t just souvenirs, they’re an active choice in helping protect our planet.
Jose hopes the school’s efforts will be noticed and imitated by other educational establishments. “If they see how small changes can make big differences, while also teaching valuable lessons to their students, hopefully it will motivate them to also go green”.