Thin crust, deep pan or folded?

17th October 2008 at 01:00
Pizza-making takes a tartan twist as Aberdeen pupils do their bit to lessen their carbon footprint. Jean McLeish reports

The Italians had better watch out - Marlpool Special School in Aberdeen has developed Scotland's answer to pizza and the killer ingredient is haggis.

It might sound like a culinary disaster but the pupils took a vote, and the haggis pizza proved one of the tastiest options. Its unique selling point is that it could save the planet.

The Marlpool pupils were taking part in an eco week of cross-curricular activities alongside neighbouring Bankhead Academy and its associated primary schools, as part of a Local Footprints Project. They were also piloting the new Schools' Global Footprint resource to help them calculate and reduce their footprint and explore ways of living more sustainably.

Marlpool came up with the innovative idea of investigating the number of food miles which go into a pizza and developing some local Scottish alternatives. They then road tested the internationally-sourced global pizzas against those made in Scotland: "Everyone in the school was tasting the pizzas and the home ingredients were the most popular," explains Lee MacDonald, 15.

Lee and his classmate Lucy Ashdown were among a group of three north-east schools which presented the results to Maureen Watt, Minister for Schools and Skills, at Aberdeen Environmental Education Centre. The Schools' Global Footprint resource is available online to Scottish schools in a joint venture between WWF Scotland and Sustainable Scotland Network.

Seventeen schools in Aberdeen city and shire and North Lanarkshire piloted the Schools' Global Footprint, with training to help teachers use it. The resources form part of the Eco Schools programme and are designed to fit in with A Curriculum for Excellence.

There were some astonishing examples of how schools managed to save the planet - with some thoughtful research and simple changes in behaviour.

Pupils at Markethill Primary in Aberdeenshire are saving over one million litres of water a week. The Turriff youngsters also cut food waste in their canteen and send their leftovers to be composted. When P7 pupil Mark Fraser says: "We saved about one million litres of water in a week," his classmate Fergus McKilligin chips in: "And we have kept these figures up!"

In their canteen, the pupils measured the amount of food waste and took action to cut it. They choose exactly what they want for lunch each morning. "Before, they would just say 'hot meal' and would have three options. The dinner ladies would have to guess how much of each thing would be chosen, so there would almost always be leftovers," says Fergus.

The Turriff pupils began their quest by measuring all six areas of their school's footprint - energy, waste, water, transport, food and buildings and developed a plan to reduce water, energy, and waste.

Teacher Allison Bremner led the project and outlined some of their findings. "The children did science work and measured how much water came out of the tap every 10 seconds," she says. "They calculated the hot water tap was seven litres every 10 seconds and the cold water tap was 10 litres every 10 seconds. "

One of the biggest savings was the washing up after art class, when taps could be running for as long as 10 minutes. Now one sink is filled for washing and another for rinsing. These and other radical measures meant water use was cut from 1,157,000 litres a week to 45,000. This staggering 96 per cent reduction was achieved by installing water-saving devices in cisterns and in a whole-school campaign to stop wasting water.

The children also increased their recycling efforts for card and paper and encouraged puils and adults to walk or cycle to school or car share. Markethill Primary now has its own eco group and, since launching its action plan, has achieved an Eco School bronze award.

The third school to showcase its work was Bankhead Academy, which has won four awards for work to reduce its footprint, and holds bronze and silver Eco School awards. It involved the whole community in its environmental work and organised an eco week of activities with associated primaries and Marlpool Special school.

A team of Bankhead pupils represented Scotland at the United Nations Youth Forum in Stavanger in June and reported on their footprinting work to an international student audience as part of the UN educational programme.

"That's been a major thing for us, that we have opened up our eco work to look at international links with other schools and see what they are doing," says Roseleen Shanley, principal teacher of religious, moral and philosophical studies, who co-ordinated the work at Bankhead.

Pupils are in email contact with youngsters they met from all over the world. Victoria Moir, 14, went to the UN conference. "It was brilliant. There were loads of people. We got masses of ideas - people made foldaway bags that you could take anywhere, we heard about recycling computers," she says. "The eco week helped, because it made pupils more aware of the effect we are having on the environment and what you can do to change it."

The schools attended an introductory session on global footprinting with WWF Scotland's education officer, Betsy King. "Now we want more schools to follow their lead and contribute to reducing Scotland's footprint," she says.

Local Footprints has funding and support from Eco Schools Scotland, the Improvement Service, the Scottish Government and Scottish Power. Schools' Global Footprint Resources and footprint calculator can be downloaded at

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