Year 6 Eco Councillors taking part in the True Solutions to Plastic Pollution Seminar

PGS sustainability has thrived this year with the Junior School and Senior School EcoCouncils and the Sustainability Ignite! groups making the most of remote opportunities, including panel discussions with experts, to allow in-depth consideration of what we as a school community can do here and more broadly.

Year 6 and Year 12 Eco Councillors attended an online True Solutions to Plastic Pollution Seminar which involved expert panels from varying backgrounds and industries talking about, and posing potential solutions to, the global plastic problem. Pupils were particularly impressed with the attendance of a Ribena and Lucozade representative after claims that their packaging is some of the most difficult to responsibly dispose of. Dr Richard Thompson, Director of the Marine Institute at Plymouth University, spoke about the need for society to become quicker at finding solutions to problems to reduce the damage they cause. This particularly resonated with the Junior School attendees. “We all need to do our bit, whether it is taking our own shopping bag to the shops, not using plastic, recycling as much as possible, saying no to single use plastic and not dropping litter,” said Lucy in 6G.

Year 7 EcoCouncil members attended an online talk about environmental stewardship, hosted by the Youth Climate Summit 2020. Pupils found out about the origins of Earth Day in 1970 and were shown the power of the Earth Challenge app, which is the world’s largest example of citizen science. In EcoCouncil next term, they will use the app to collect scientific data on air quality and plastic pollution in our local area so that we can contribute to this valuable global data set.

We also were delighted to welcome back OP Amy Nguyen who talked to both the Senior School EcoCouncil and the Sustainability Ignite! group about sustainable business and her own path to a sustainability-related career. Since leaving PGS in 2012, Amy has worked in renewable energy and the high-end sustainable beauty industry, before now checking brand claims relating to sustainability to prevent “greenwashing”. She also co-founded the website “Sustainable and Social”, designed for the sustainably-curious. Amy asked the pupils about their own understanding of sustainability and assisted the pupils in considering how PGS can become a more sustainable community. The pupils asked her a range of questions, including her biggest celebrity inspiration as a sustainable champion (Livia Firth MBE, co-founder and Creative Director of Eco-Age – the leading consulting and creative agency specialising in integrated sustainability, and founder of the Green Carpet Challenge) and how sustainable living may affect social inequality in the UK. We look forward to welcoming Amy back for further events in the future, particularly when more practical activities can resume post-lockdown.

Most recently, Year 12 Ignite! Sustainability pupils had a “Plastic in Portsmouth” themed day involving a University of Portsmouth event and a local beach clean. Eight pupils from the Year 12 bubble attended a panel discussion titled “Revolution Plastics: Creating a sustainable future for our city” via Zoom, with panellists including representatives from the Southern Co-op, Portsmouth City Council, and the University of Portsmouth student union. Discussions centred around the collective responsibility in the city to dispose of plastic and to move away from plastic wrapped produce. Interestingly, pupils discovered that a wide variety of household items can be responsibly disposed of in Portsmouth, including even mattresses which can be shredded to recycle their separate components. Pupils then “did their bit” by carrying out a beach clean in small groups on Southsea beach and are delighted to report that it was incredibly clean – only half a bag being collected in total!

Pupils look forward to “wrapping up” the term with some sustainable Christmas crafts - thank you to all who donated used brown paper and card to make this a reality!