The Sustainers is a pilot project aimed embedding in Sustainability at secondary schools. The project was launched April 2019, attended by 70 secondary students plus teachers from 6 Camden borough schools: William Ellis, La Sainte Union, Parliament Hill, UCL Academy, Acland Burghley and Haverstock.

At this first summit, students were presented with info on the crisis and worked on ideas for local solutions. Each school’s Sustainer group went away and developed projects. They presented these to a panel of businesses at a Dragons Den style event and were awarded funding. One entire year 7 class at Acland Burghley School were busy creating a climate crisis comic and ringing local shops to find out where to source metal reusable water bottles. A brilliant example of enterprise, creativity and maths in the classroom. Several schools are designing metal refillable water bottles alongside running school design competitions to engage a larger section of the school population.

Whilst at William Ellis the boys were already calculating in the canteen the amount of disposable plastic being used. Over at UCL there was talk of installing a pedal powered phone charger on a bike to teach kids about energy usage. At LSU the students were storyboarding a film to identify local solutions to the climate crisis in Camden.

Since then there has been a further summit and countless meetings and project development workshops. The Sustainers eco-system has now spread throughout the schools and is starting to engage other teachers and pupils with different projects and workshops taking place on a regular basis.

Whilst we cannot change the curriculum, Sustainers ‘thinking’ and ‘actions’ are being embedded in English/Science/Geography/Art/DT/ Citizenship and Personal, Social, Health and Economic topics. There is also a big Sustainers project on the banning of single use plastic in Camden. The Sustainers met with Councillor Gould and Councillor Mason, and are lobbying to have single use plastic BANNED in all Camden schools from spring 2020. The Sustainers are also making a film to celebrate positive local actions.

The Sustainers influence has also spread to represent secondary school students at several Camden Council meetings, notably the full council debate on the Climate Emergency in September 2019.

The Sustainers & Camden Council

The Council have been so impressed by their ideas that the Sustainers were also invited to support the work of the Camden Citizen’s Assembly on the climate crisis.

As council leader Councillor Gould said when she met the Sustainers, to listen to their ideas, she wished she could bottle their enthusiasm. The Sustainers presented 3 key demands to the Council:

  1. Ban single use plastic from schools
  2. Stop serving meat at least twice a week at school lunch
  3. Teachers should receive TLR PAYMENTS to encourage them to embed Climate Emergency action within the school

Some schools are now preparing to declare a Climate Emergency.

“We are taught about the melting of the ice caps but not any ideas of what kids of our age group can do about it here in Camden.”

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