In the past year we have taken a strong focus on developing our Eco-Committee, to ensure that the embedment of sustainability across the organisation continues to grow and develop. Most of our nurseries have an Eco-Committee, co-led by the children and one or two environmentally passionate early years practitioners (our eco-leads). This then expands into an organisational Eco-Committee, which allows for different passions and perspectives to connect, forming a proactive group that inspires sustainable change.

What is our Eco-Committee all about?

One of the four levels of change in Acorn’s Social Impact Model is children’s engagement with nature. It is part of our ethos and values as an organisation to ensure that all children experience the holistic benefits of connecting with, and learning and playing in natural environments, as well as taking it that one step further, and learning to both respect and care for the environment around them. This is a basis that all our staff are familiar with, but particularly our Eco-Committee, who, together with the children, work to bring environmental conversations and decisions to the forefront, and accordingly introduces, develops, or encourages practices that align. Simultaneously, the committee navigates the common challenge of trying to get more adults on board with prioritising sustainable thinking and curiosity, mindfulness and therefore actions.

What has enabled the flourishment of our Eco-Committee?

1st Key: creating an accessible and encouraging space for discussion.

Our eco-leads are connected via a WhatsApp group where they can share perspectives, ideas, questions and resources. This is not only a convenient forum enabling communication about sustainability to happen more frequently, but it is also an informal space that gives room for productive conversations. More simply, this space has also instigated strengthened connections between our eco-leads, producing increased feelings of support and therefore empowerment of action.

2nd Key: signing up to an educational programme (there’s quite a few out there!) that will inspire and drive environmental activities and initiatives.

Our Eco-leads are signed up to the brilliant Eco-Schools programme (run by Keep Britain Tidy), that provides a framework that empowers young people and educators to tackle environmental issues and recognises their efforts with a Green Flag Award. Since our Eco-Committee has become more connected, we have seen four of our nurseries achieving this award for the first time across one academic year. Our practitioners are increasingly working together to support each other with the aims of this programme, providing children with growing opportunities to learn about environmental action as future global citizens.

3rd Key: increasing development opportunities.

Passion within an area of sustainability can take us incredibly far as it naturally drives independent learning and development. However, it is important to support this with opportunities of extending knowledge in new ways (and into other aspects of a very extensive subject). So, for the first time, two of our eco-leads have been completing a Level 4 Sustainability in Early Years qualification (run by London Early Years Foundation)– the only sustainability course specifically designed for the early years. And we have also began plans to intertwine sustainability workshops within our staff training days.

4th Key: working on a collective project of change.  

Our most recent project across the committee has been trialling making our own wet wipes, to reduce the use of shop-bought ones which may contaminate the environment for hundreds of years. The committee took thorough care with trialling different ingredients and improving the method based on family and staff team feedback and sharing this with each other. Now a couple of our nurseries have begun implementing the process within their daily routines. Here is our method if you would like to try it out too!

These are the first few keys that have opened up a very exciting path of growth within our Eco-Committee, leading action for embedding environmental sustainability throughout all our practices. We cannot wait to discover more of these keys and to share them with you!

Santa Svike