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For many people, climate change can seem too big an issue to tackle, while others know it just takes just One Good Idea to make a difference. Today (Tuesday, 15 May), over 90 students from schools across the country are taking part in the National Final of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) One Good Idea Competition.
Now in its 10th year, the SEAI One Good Idea competition sees students from primary and post-primary schools in every corner of Ireland create innovative campaigns that can make a big difference to how we use energy in our daily lives. Over 7,000 students have taken part in the competition over the last ten years and their One Good Idea campaigns have reached more than 1 million children, teenagers and adults.
This year, over 200 campaigns were created with 20 finalists selected to compete at today’s National Final in Dublin Castle. From how we travel to what eat, our finalists are inspiring their schools, families and communities to make positive changes to how they use energy.
Today the finalists will present their campaigns to an expert judging panel, with many teams incorporating dance, song and drama into their work. There will be six awards presented at today’s final by Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten TD and SEAI Chairperson, Julie O’Neill.
1. Set a shower timer
We use energy to pump, heat and treat our water supply every day and showers are one of the biggest consumers of water in Irish homes. South Abbey Super Savers from Youghal, are encouraging us to follow the 4-minute rule when we hop in the shower. Reducing your shower time by just one minute could save up to 9,000 litres of water per year. Set a timer beforehand and see if you’re up to the challenge.
2. Host a clothes swap
Scoil Mhuire Lourdes’ Fashionistas, from Tullow, are encouraging us to clear out our wardrobes to help tackle climate change. Instead of hitting the shops for a new summer wardrobe, host a clothes swop with your friends. You get to clear out the clutter, upgrade your wardrobe and it doesn’t cost a thing.
3. Don’t let the tap run
The H20utfitters from Castlerahan NS in Cavan want us all to ‘Do the World a Favour, Be a Water Saver’. Next time you are washing your fruit and veg, don’t let the tap run. Instead fill up a bowl or pot to help conserve water and save energy.
4. Turn down the thermostat
60% of the energy we use in our homes is for heating. Foireann Fuinnimh from Gaelscoil De Híde, Roscommon, are asking you to turn the central heating down by 1 degree and reduce your carbon footprint by up to 360kg.
5. Ditch the dryer
The Laundry Brigade, from Castlegar National School, Galway, want us all to ditch the tumble dryer and return to the humble clothes line. Letting your clothes dry naturally is not just better for the environment, it’s better for your pocket and your clothes too!
6. Switch off the lights
Save energy by switching off the lights. Keep forgetting to hit the switch on the way out the door? The Legendary Light Savers from St Michael’s NS, Sneem, invented Mr BEE, a friendly character who reminds you to switch off the lights.
7. Act local, think global
Take action against climate change with local community initiatives. Team Global from Ardfert National School, Kerry, hosted a ‘beach clean-up’ to inspire their community to play their part in the global response to climate change.
Get creative and upcycle your household items. The Phoenix from Scoil Naomh Eirc, Ardfert, inspired by their namesake, want you to breathe new life into unwanted items in the home. Have you an old pair of wellies lying around? Why not turn them into a unique plant pot instead of throwing them out.
Post-Primary Junior Finalists
9. Invest in a good mug
Drink coffee on the go? One World One Mug, from Our Lady’s School, Terenure, want you to pick up a reusable coffee mug and help reduce the number of take-away cups going to landfill. Some coffee shops are now offering a discount if you bring your own mug so you can save money too!
10. Take a break from technology
Switch off your phone at night. Sleeping Beauty from Dominican College Sion Hill, Blackrock, are encouraging you to get a good night’s sleep and save energy by turning off your phones when you go to bed. It’s good for the environment and good for your health too.
11. Use public transport
Take the bus – leave the car at home, and you’ll be making an easy decision with immediate results. Students at Ballymakenny College, Drogheda, are going The Extra Mile to promote more sustainable transport options at their school.
12. Buy loose fruit and veg
S.O.S (Save Our Seas) from Abbey Community College, Roscommon, want us all to use less plastic packaging to help reduce Ocean Acidification. Buy loose fruit and veg instead of prepacked and always carry a reusable shopping bag with you.
13. Eat local
The Food Fanatics from Meanscoil Gharman, Enniscorthy, want us to eat local, in-season produce. Sticking to foods grown locally helps reduce the carbon footprint as well as supporting the local economy and promoting food security.
14. Switch it off…. properly!
Any time an appliance is plugged in, it’s drawing energy – so although your device isn’t in use it’s still contributing to your carbon footprint. Students from Ballinode Community College, Sligo, have a simple solution? Leave your electronic appliances unplugged or switch them off at the wall when you’re not using them.
Post-Primary Senior Finalists
15. Get on your bike
The Transporters are encouraging students at St Paul’s CBS in Dublin 7 to cycle to school. People who cycle to work or school are proven to be more productive and healthier and the best part is, with bike rental schemes rolling out in towns and cities around the country, you don’t even have to own a bike to cycle!
16. Donate it to charity
Students from Cross and Passion College in Kildare are encouraging people to donate unwanted clothes to charity shops instead of throwing them in the bin. A good idea is to take them straight to a local organisation like a homeless shelter or women's shelter.
17. Grow your own
The closer food is grown to you the better. So, if you have the room, why not grow your own herbs, fruit and vegetables? Then visit The Carbon F00d Print blog by The A-Team in Sacred Heart Secondary School, Drogheda, to learn all about food miles and some simple recipes to get started.
18. Forget fast-fashion!
Many major clothing retailers practice what is known as ‘fast fashion’ – selling an endless cycle of must-have trends at extremely low prices. Students from Colaiste Mhicil in Limerick are teaching their school about eco-friendly fashion. From buying vintage to choosing sustainable brands, what you wear can help tackle climate change.
19. Bring water on the go
Why buy bottled water when you can just bring it with you? Students from Errigal College, Letterkenny, are encouraging everyone to use BPA free reusable bottles and to refill their bottle instead of buying bottled water.
20. Have a veggie day once a week
You don’t have to become a vegetarian but by eating meat less frequently you can help reduce your carbon footprint. Beg for Veg from St Coleman’s Community College, Midleton, want people to go vegetarian one day a week or build a couple of vegetarian meals into their weekly meal plan.
For more information on the SEAI One Good Idea Competition visit www.seai.ie