Does being eco friendly have to stop at school at the school gate?

Ec friendly school uniforms and plastic free learning.

Firstly, before there are people saying “my school is super eco friendly”, I know there are some schools and childcare setting out there doing amazing work… But they are most definitely not in the majority. My experience of school and childcare is very different. I’ve become the “eco weirdo mum” who uses cloth nappies and requests no glitter or plastic is used. I get hesitant responses and sometimes enthusiastic but confused agreement. Am I the only one who feels this? I think not. 

I have however decided rather than just try to stay strong within my own family, I want to be the change. My oldest will be starting school in September this year (this feels so weird, how is he this old already?), and I was checking out the school uniform options for the school. All the kids seem to wear it and even have the school logo on bags. But what did I find… polycotton (internal scream). It just baffles me that when we know the harm plastic is doing, information that schools should be teaching our kids, that they often don’t seem to be actively trying to change things. I also need to say here I don’t think teaching is just down to schools… if it was there would be a lot of missing information from my little peoples development, but there are certainly things I want to be discussed in a school environment as well as at home. 

Anyway, back to the point. The school did say you can source your own uniform and I could have easily just done that, let good about my decision and got my own eco friendly school uniform from an ethical company… but then what am I actually doing to change things, so I emailed the school. I asked if they had an eco friendly option especially when there is such a big plastic crisis at the moment. The first response was that they had looked at it a while ago, but that they thought it was too expensive for parents, so they didn’t go with it. But if I had any ideas to send them through. Now I have seen some of the cars that pull up outside of the school… and there are certainly parents who can afford a couple of extra pounds for uniform, but I decided to leave this point. Instead I sent back a couple of ideas and asked who heads up sustainability at the school. I had other ideas I wanted to share with them. 

I was expecting a quick response and nothing more. I got the response, it had been passed to the deputy head teacher, but what surprised me is that I’ve had the Deputy Head and Head Teacher seek me out when dropping off my little person to speak to me about it. The first was a little defensive, reiterating the initial response of its too expensive, but it quickly changed to saying I was the first parent who had got in touch about it. I was thanked for the information, assured they were looking into it, including the actions they have taken. The Head even spoke to me about some of the eco issues they are trying to overcome, having suppliers chosen for them as it is government organised, but how they are still pushing for change and that I had been a catalyst. I said I would love to be involved to help with change and she offered that I could write for their newsletter to spread the word to other parents and guardians. 

At the beginning of this little journey, I honestly didn’t think I would get anywhere with it. I thought that schools had far too many other things going on and sustainability was really far down on their agenda… But as we are coming out of covid restrictions, I feel a change. Schools and childcare providers are going to have more breathing space, but we MUST be the change. They need to know this is a priority for us and that we want to help drive it forward. We are sick of the glitter, the cellophane, the plastic bags with dirty clothes and the plastic content in the uniforms. We want better, better for our little people, better for this planet and better for the future. 

I’d love to hear about schools and childcare providers leading the way with this. Please comment or get in touch and tell me about people doing great things. If we can share ideas, small steps to improvement, then we can make things better. 

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