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St John’s Academy declares a climate emergency

St John's sixth form climate change group (SEA) - from left to right - Nicole Franklin,Ted Warner, Josh Fellows, Fabian Avis, Holly McKay, Olivia Eden, Lucy Jones with teacher Jonny FriendSt John's sixth form climate change group (SEA) - from left to right - Nicole Franklin,Ted Warner, Josh Fellows, Fabian Avis, Holly McKay, Olivia Eden, Lucy Jones with teacher Jonny FriendOn January 31 St John’s Academy declared a climate emergency.  This follows on from the UK government’s declaration (the first government to make such a declaration) in May last year.

Jonny Friend, Head of Science, Environmental Change Leader and UN accredited climate change teacher, told Marlborough.news, “This is a declaration of intent that as a school we will strive to mitigate climate change. The decisions that we take and the actions that we carry out will have environmental and climate impact taken into consideration.”

St John’s student climate change groups, under the name of Schools for Environmental Action (SEA), led by Jonny Friend, have been busy making the school more environmentally friendly and raising awareness of the many issues involved.

Holly MacKay is a Year 13 student, “Around the same time as Greta Thunberg, people our age felt helpless and this is something we can actively do.”

Ted Warner, Year 12, commented, “When I saw a projection of what would happen to Greenland and the Netherlands in the future I realised the scale of what’s going on. It’s scary and I want to be involved in trying to do something about it.” 

After involving the whole school in a Climate Change Day last September the group has taken many practical steps. Working with the school’s catering supplier, Pabulum, the school canteen has banned plastic cutlery, plates, bottles and sachets of sauces. Single use wrapping will be replaced with compostable wrapping. There will be more vegan and vegetarian options and an aim to reduce food miles.

New recycling bins have been installed for confectionary packaging. This recyclable waste is sent to Terracycle, who in turn make a donation to Wiltshire Air Ambulance. The school has also changed its default search engine to Ecosia who use their profits to plant trees. On average, forty-five searches buys one tree.

The SEA group has held a clothes swap and there are plans for more. “There is a growing awareness that buying second hand clothes is better than fast fashion,” commented Holly.

A parents’ group has set up a Facebook group to facilitate the gifting and reselling of second hand uniform and PE kit.

Many of the students have participated in the climate strikes and marches in London and in Bristol. “It’s really important to be part of something bigger,” commented Jonny Friend. Together with Royal Wootton Bassett School, he organised a Wiltshire Climate Summit attended by ten other Wiltshire schools. He has also made links with two other schools who have declared a climate emergency.

On Thursday March 5 at 6.30pm, St John’s parents are invited to a talk by Professor Dave Waltham from Royal Holloway entitled “The 100 tonne Carbon Diet.”  The SEA group are busy organising information stalls for the evening on a range of related topics.

The SEA are buzzing with ideas for the future and look forward to publicising them in Marlborough.news.

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