Sustainable September

At George Heriot’s, the Junior School Eco Club and Senior School Environmental Action Research Team brought the idea of being sustainable for one whole month to the forefront of our minds. This committee work very hard to ensure that we are doing our best to be as environmentally friendly as possible all year round, but made a particular effort to remind our staff and pupils of what we can do differently for the month of September to kickstart the new academic session.

What could you do differently?

Read some of our thought-provoking topics below:

What is Sustainability?

Oxfam challenged people to ‘Say No to New’ for the month of September. Find out more here.

How do you make your tech life more climate-friendly?

Pupils discussed the impact of mobile phone and other technology use on the environment, and watched a ‘Me vs Climate Change’ clip on BBC IPlayer. The clip highlighted the economic and environmental benefits of fixing mobile phones instead of buying new ones, and of using WiFi to increase battery life (and therefore reduce the need for charging!). Carphone Warehouse accepts old mobile phones and recycles them to make money for charity

Waste-free lunch

  1. How much of your lunch do you discard? It is estimated that the average child throws away around 31kg of waste from discarded packed lunches per year (the weight of an average 10-year-old!) Do you finish your packed lunch/school dinner? How can you reduce the amount of food waste from your lunch? Do you help choose/pack your lunch?
  2. How much packaging do you throw away? We investigated sustainable/plastic free packaging during Plastic Free Week last year. Are pupils continuing the good habits started last year or has there been a return to cling film? Are pupils involved in choosing how to package their snacks?

On the move recycling

Pupils were asked to consider how they could be more eco-friendly when eating and drinking ‘on the run’. This theme links to a recent report from the Scottish Government:

“The growing dependence on single-use packaging associated with our on the go and throwaway culture has increased the volume of waste generated. Single-use disposable beverage cups generate circa 4,000 tonnes of waste in Scotland each year; and single-use disposable beverage cups production and waste generates ~5,900 tonnes of CO2e/year in Scotland. Around 40,000 single-use disposable beverage cup are littered in Scotland annually.”(Scottish Government, 17 July 2019)

Electricity Saving

How much energy (and money!) could you save at home? Which energy-saving ‘quick win’ will you choose from this list.

Climate Change

How can investors change the world?

Sustainable Play – Parties and Presents

Party bags – Are the Party Bags you give/receive damaging the environment? Is there a way you can make them more sustainable? Should we always give party bags/do children expect party treat bags after parties? Do you use/value the small plastic single toys, rubber balls, balloons etc?
Sustainable alternatives include – books, pencils, seed packets, compostable plant pots, homemade baking/sweets. Some further ideas can be found here.

Second Hand Gifting

Can you ever have enough toys? Do you sometimes have to clear space in your room to make room for new toys? What are most of your toys made of? Is this sustainable? There is a huge problem with the amount of plastic toys being produced and played with every day. Most of them (approx. 90%) are made from plastic, the majority of which is very difficult, if not impossible to recycle. These toys are often cheaply made and don’t last long, yet they leave a lasting plastic legacy. Would you consider giving your toys to someone else as a gift for a birthday or celebration? How would you feel if you received a pre-loved gift as a present? Read this article for more information.

Are you shopping sustainably?

During registration, pupils talked about the features of the Giki App and other apps that help us to be more environmentally friendly.

Carbon Footprint

Pupils were asked about their carbon footprint and what they could do to reduce it. There is a questionnaire here with advice.

How are shops playing their part?

Senior School pupils were asked about the different shops that are working to reduce waste. Charity shops, The Refillery, The Edinburgh Tool Library and even Toy Libraries, such as Whirli, are just some examples of businesses that are trying to change the way we shop and reduce environmental impacts.


Why should we save water in Scotland when there is so much rain? Our use of water and energy are closely linked. Emissions/pollution from the water industry account for nearly 1% of the UK’s total. A major source of emissions is from using hot water within homes. Reducing the time you shower or the amount of hot water you use for cleaning dishes therefore has a significant impact on your personal carbon footprint. Using water efficiently means that we can minimise the amount of additional water resources being taken out of our rivers and aquifers, especially as demands are rising. This protects our water resources and the wildlife that live in and use them too.

Water Saving Facts:

  • In Scotland, domestic water use accounts for 150 litres per person per day
  • One cotton t-shirt has about 25 baths full of water embedded in it
  • Human Blood is 83% water
  • Over 90% of the world’s supply of fresh water is located in Antarctica

How sustainable is your home?

Some of our Junior School classes were researching about out how small changes at home can make a difference to reduce climate change. Can you take the 2-minute shower challenge? Are there electricity vampires sapping energy in your home?

Raising Awareness

On 20th September, children around the world took part in a strike to raise awareness and demand action on climate change. This video by Greta Thunberg and George is a good introduction about the climate strikes. EARTH gave a motivational assembly about Climate Change and Fast Fashion, and are working on letters for MPs and MSPs.

Travel and Transport

Another way to reduce your carbon footprint, especially during short trips, is to walk or cycle. Have you tried taking your bike to school? If not, what barriers are preventing you cycling to school? Sustrans estimates that the average family could save £642 a year by swapping a car-based school run for walking or cycling. Further resources and activities are available here if you have time to investigate this further with your class.

What can you do to make a difference?

Finally, what can you do to make a difference? This clip has some simple suggestions for you to make your lifestyle more climate friendly. If you have time, we also recommend you watching these ‘Me vs Climate Change’ clips on BBC IPlayer.

A huge thank you to the classes who have shared their work and suggestions on how to be more sustainable.