Gonzaga College SJ is proud to be in the Green Schools Programme, where we aim to better our school by making it more environmentally friendly.
On Wednesday 22nd May 2019 we were presented with our sixth Green Flag, this one for Global Citizenship: Litter and Waste. Previous themes were Litter and Waste, Energy, Water, Travel, and Biodiversity.
As part of our work on Global Citizenship: Litter and Waste, we conducted a global awareness survey, a nationalities survey and a waste audit. We carried out litter pick ups on the school grounds and sold water bottles and travel mugs to encourage students to avoid single use plastics.
We have recently begun working on our seventh flag. The theme this time is Global Citizenship: Energy. Well done to the winners of our Green Code competition: David Egan for 'Energy misused cannot be re-used' and Seán Radcliffe for 'Sábháil inniu, mair amárach'. The next steps will be an energy review and an action plan.
We have also continued working on previous themes. For example, to promote biodiversity on the school grounds we recently planted a new native hedgerow and set aside wildlife areas on the school grounds. To facilitate more cycling to school, we installed new bike stands with funding from Dublin City Council. We have also participated in two 'Fridays for Future' demonstrations outside Leinster House and in the climate action demonstrations on 15th March and 20 September. See here for more details.
If you are interested in joining the Green Schools Committee, please talk to Ms McNamara in the Library.
Reports on Previous Green Schools Trips
Ringsend Water Treatment Facility
On the Thursday the 22nd of March the Gonzaga Green Schools Committee embarked on a trip to the Ringsend Water Treatment Facility. There was a total on eight committee members on the trip ranging from 1st to 4th year. We were also accompanied by Ms. S. McNamara (The College Librarian) and Ms. B. Rooney (The College Administrator).
At 10:15 we let class and departed from the school to Ringsend. When we arrived we were given a very detailed presentation by Mr. Paddy Higgins about the history of water treatment and the history of the facility. He also explained about how water treatment works in Ringsend and then gave us a tour of the facility.
Firstly sludge has the large objects removed such as grit and other large objects. Grease, fats and oils are also removed at this point. The solids are then separated from the liquid at this point. The solids or sludge are converted into a fertilizer by use of heat and gas. There is also a byproduct gas from this process which accounts for 40% of the facilities energy.
The water is then stored in a variety of different tanks to allow remaining smaller solids to gather at the bottom of the tanks. There is also oxygen added at a later stage to further clean it. Whilst in these tanks there are micro-organisms which eat through the bacteria in the tanks and produce the byproduct of nitrogen. When the water leaves this secondary treatment area it is clean enough to return to the sea although it is checked before it is pumped into the sea. During the bathing season of May to August there is a third form of treatment. This is exposing the water to ultraviolent light to disinfect it. The water is then sufficient to return into the sea. If the water was to be clean enough to drink it would need to go through a fourth stage of treatment as happens in London.
At the end of the process there completely clean water pumped into the sea and a byproduct of a fertilizer. There are no harmful byproducts from the sewage. The facility is very environmentally friendly and the Dublin Bay Project is one which allows for water to be treated to the maximum possible level.
In conclusion the trip was very enjoyable and insightful. At this point I would like to thank Ms. Rooney and Ms. McNamara for bringing us on the trip and Barry Mulvey for organizing it.
Mark Finn, S3A
On Thursday the 29th of March, the members of the Green schools committee once again set forth upon a school tour. The eleven of us ventured, this time, to the vast IKEA centre. We departed at 10:15 and travelled there by coach.
When we arrived we were met by the IKEA sustainability manager for the environmentally friendly measures taken by the Dublin branch of the company. He delivered a very explanatory presentation on the steps taken by IKEA to ensure fair trade, well-treated labourers and eco-friendliness within the organisation; this also covered details on the IKEA policies towards human rights promotion and recycling. Following this we were taken down to the workshop area of the store, where we were shown how IKEA fixed damaged products for reuse instead of disposing of them.
Once our guide had finished giving his talk about his work in the company, we were treated to a meal in their restaurant. During this time to ourselves we were able to see the measures IKEA had taken to become more efficient and environmentally friendly, first hand. We were also each offered some complimentary pencils as we left. Having finished our lunch we found our way out of the shop and back to our bus.
In short, the trip successfully demonstrated to us the requirements of a company such as IKEA in order to improve our planets pollution levels. We were also impressed by their work in human rights. The tour was very helpful and I would like to thank both IKEA and those within the school who organised it.
Laurence Childs 3B