- Written by Sunnyside Ocean Defenders
Following a recent meeting with pupils at Sunnyside Primary School in Glasgow, Müller was so impressed with the pupils’ commitment and detailed research, that they are putting in place a new plastic recycling scheme to help tackle the issue
Who are you?
We are Sunnyside Ocean Defenders, part of Sunnyside Primary School.
Why did your school choose to set up a social enterprise?
Sunnyside became a School of Conservation in 2014 when a group of P7 pupils embarked on various conservation projects and realised that they wouldn't have time to find solutions by the time they left for Secondary school.
The class approached the Head Teacher and asked if they could pass the projects onto each year group. As a result of this, we now have a different environmental theme at each stage of the school. From Primary 1 exploring how to care for the environment to Primary 7 pupils campaigning against cetaceans in captivity.
'Primary 7 pupils lead the whole school campaign against plastic pollution, we have always seen enterprise as an integral part of Sunnyside and the curriculum focus on conservation fits this well. The children lead awareness raising days and events throughout the year and here we sell products that fund our social enterprise' Class Teacher
We worked with the Ullapool P7 class to establish this in Ullapool during a visit in September 2017. The locals backed the campaign and Ullapool declared itself plastic straw free in December 2017. A great success for Living Seas and the pupils.
What is your social enterprises’ social purpose?
Our main campaign this year has been to raise awareness of single-use plastics through #NaeStrawAtAw. Having first focused on the bottle deposit scheme, we established a link with British Divers Marine Life Rescue and a joint project was created to ask businesses to replace single-use plastic straws with alternatives.
Having returned to Glasgow, the Ocean Defenders set about spreading the campaign to other schools and businesses. The local Harvester, Nando's, Marks & Spencers, Best Bar None, Scotrail, the Hydro and Cal Mac have all backed the campaign and are looking to remove straws from their outlets, as well as Glasgow City Council. We met with our local MP who has taken the campaign to Westminster and the campaign is now running well out of the Isle of Arran, Ardrossan, Kingussie and Oban.
Our next steps are to meet with Glasgow Airport and Murrayfield and we are excited by as well as offers coming in from other countries.
What inspired your school to support this cause?
Through working with the fantastic Marine Conservation Society UK, we adopted a beach a couple of years ago. Doing beach cleans, and auditing what was found, we have seen the impact of plastic first hand. From the infants doing virtual beach cleans of Katie Morag's island to some of us working on beaches at Troon and Prestwick, we our pupils have seen that change needs to come about. We thought that by creating a grassroots campaign we take responsibility for reducing the amount of single-use plastic being used in our own town/area, we could make a significant impact in a short space of time.
The knowledge gained through research has been invaluable to be able to back up our claims and hopes for the future.
What is your product?
Our social enterprise is an arm of the awareness raising we are doing as a school. We make and sell ocean themed products including badges and cushions. We then use the profits from these events to donate money to causes close to the values of the campaign. For example, we have donated £90 to fellow ocean defenders, Sea Shepard. We sold our badges for £1 and made £250 in one day! We donated the profits to British Divers Marine Life Rescue so they can carry on their important work, the badges also worked well to raise awareness.
What did your group learn from the experience?
We have learned an extraordinary amount. We have been organising trips, designing campaign posters and websites and using social media. We have gained confidence and experience in public speaking, persuasive techniques and have developed their understanding of the science behind their campaigns as well.
We would like to say a huge thank you to Sunnyside Primary School for sharing their story with us, to set up a social enterprise in your school please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0131 243 2628.