Friday, 9 March 2007

I received some letters from children at Talbot Primary School. They were doing persuasive writing and had decided to write to me about their concerns about the environment. Here's my reply to the children...

Dear Aavaiz, Alice, Ben, Carys, Ellie, Emma, Fatima, Faye, Jack, Jed, Jonathan, Joanne, Joe, Manjinder, Michael, Nicholas, Olivia, Rajpreet, Sadie, Thomas and William,

Thank you for all your letters, which your teacher Mr Edwards sent to me. I was very impressed with your enthusiasm and your persuasive writing. After reading your letters I have chosen to reply to you all in the most environmentally friendly way I can think of, on my blog.

I strongly believe that if everyone in Leeds, from my colleagues here at Education Leeds and the Council to everyone who works in a Leeds school, makes small changes to the way in which they live, and work, and learn every day, we can work together to achieve fantastic results in being environmentally friendly and saving our planet.

Passion and commitment from children and young people will encourage people to listen about environmental and climate change issues, and to make a difference. I agree with Alice when she writes that we can all work together to save the planet. We can truly make a difference to the environment if we all work in partnership - schools, Education Leeds, Leeds City Council, and, most importantly, all the children and young people in Leeds.

With your passion, enthusiasm and commitment to helping our environment, you would make excellent ‘green’ ambassadors for your school. We are already encouraging our schools, school staff, and children and young people to ‘make a positive contribution’ through the Leeds Healthy Schools programme. You could form an eco-committee and work towards making your school a more environmentally friendly place. If every school in Leeds made this commitment, think what we could all achieve together!

You already have some brilliant ideas in your letters which you could use, and I’m sure you have even more than those! Joe’s idea for recycling paper in arts projects, and in bedding for school pets is a very good one, and one that you could use now in your school. You may even do it already! Sadie mentions walking more, and turning off electrical equipment and lights. You can start this yourselves, by asking your parents and carers to walk you to school whenever they can, and making sure everything in your school is turned off when it does not need to be on – such as lights, taps, and computers. Emma makes an excellent point about the damage people are doing to the environment by driving independently to recycling bins in terms of pollution from cars. You could try setting up a rota for your parents to pick up recyclable waste from school and either recycle it at home, or in local recycling facilities. Remember, you have the power to change the environment and the way you live in it – all you have to do is convince your friends, family and teachers about how brilliant your ideas are! And don’t just stop at school – take your environmental ideas into your homes and your friends’ and relatives’ homes as well.

I am sure you will all be interested to hear since 2004, the council and Education Leeds have had a contract for waste disposal and recycling that all Leeds schools can choose to join if they want to. We must reduce the waste heading for landfill sites and instead reduce, re-use or recycle our waste.

I wish you all the best with taking forward your recycling and environmental ideas in your school, homes, and anywhere else you can use them, and I hope you will keep me posted about any exciting and innovative developments you come up with in the future. Can I take this opportunity to thank you for bringing this important issue to my attention, and urge you to keep shouting about the environment and recycling to anyone who will listen to you!


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