Sustainability and Environmental Projects in St Mary’s:

As most of you would be aware the environment is very high on our agenda in St Mary’s and we have a very active Green Schools Committee and have just been awarded our fifth flag for Biodiversity. We are acutely aware of the need to include Sustainable Development Education in our curriculum and for the first time this year we have included Development Education on the TY curriculum.

With the important areas of sustainability and the environment so high on our agenda there are many initiatives afoot:

Biodiversity Initiative: Our Biodiversity Plan aims to improve the outdoor environment through the introduction of new habitats, such as revitalising the existing pond with planting, creating the new raised bed pond and planting it with native pollinator friendly aquatic plants and the introduction of small bird nesting boxes, bat boxes and a swift box which has been ordered and will be attached at an appropriate vantage point to the building to encourage the survival of this breed of bird which is seriously in decline (we have lost 40%of our swifts in Ireland over the last 10 years). A further aspect of this initiative is the planting of pollinator friendly bulbs for spring and summer, and sunflowers and wildflowers for summer and autumn. Weed killer is no longer used in the sensory garden.

Biodiversity Meadow Collaboration: A link was created with the Convent Garden Committee last year and we were delighted to be involved in the launch last April of the Biodiversity Meadow – planted on an acre of land kindly donated by the Holy Faith Order.

The Lumper Project: This was introduced in collaboration with the history department and students were treated to the fascinating history of the famine potato that has survived to the present day. The ‘lumper’ is as the name suggests a lumpy unattractive variety of spud that, being a hardy breed, survived the famine of the 1840s soil and is presently growing in our sensory garden.

Water Butts Initiative:  We have purchased five extra water butts to collect rainwater which is used to water the plants. This ensures that over the summer months water is conserved as all the plants are watered from the water butts.

Bug Hotel: With a whole school focus on biodiversity a fabulous Bug Hotel was constructed by our caretaker Colin on the raised biodiversity bed outside our gym.

Sustainable Drinking Water Initiative: Anticipating the ban on single use plastics we began negotiating with an environmentally friendly provider of premium filtered water solutions to supply the most efficient and highly filtered water and make it freely available to all members the school community. We have removed our three water dispensers which are inefficient on many levels and replaced them with four state-of-the-art sensor-operated dispensers – eliminating the need for hand contact – and providing an extremely high level of filtration. In the very near future each student will be provided with a reusable stainless-steel water bottle.

Waste Management Initiative:   We have been involved in a serious recycling drive for the past two years and have been providing separate bins in each classroom for green waste and food waste. We are going a step further this year and all first-year students have been asked to bring their waste home as has been the policy throughout primary school. We are hoping to introduce this with second years also. If this policy is successful from year to year we will eventually have a school wide policy that provides continuity with the primary schools and encourages more responsible waste separation and management.

Get Up and Goals Project: We are one of ten schools in Ireland which has been chosen to participate in this programme which promotes the 17 Global Sustainable Goals. This project is EU funded and 12 European countries will be participating. The aim is to promote the 17 goals across all junior cycle subjects.

Goal for 2019-2020: Reducing Paper Waste

We have made great strides in our sustainability initiatives and this year and have set ourselves the goal to reduce paper waste during the coming academic year.


 Thanks to all those who work so hard in the school to raise awareness about these important issues which affect all of our futures!

paper wste