Eco-Schools Scotland - Rectangular Logo

Eco-Schools is the largest sustainable schools programme in the world with 19.5 million children, young people and educators engaged worldwide in 67 different countries. In Scotland it is delivered by Keep Scotland Beautiful but it has common structural features across all operating countries. The Seven Elements make up the core of all Eco-Schools programmes across the world. 

Completing a Green Flag Application is recognised by the Green Flag Award - a visible indication of your school's commitment to Learning for Sustainability and an internationally recognised accreditation for excellence in sustainable education.

Eco-Schools Scotland - Green Flag        

The Green Flag Award is based on the Seven Elements, the core of the Eco-Schools programme in every participating country. To complete the seven elements, a school must:

  1. Form an Eco-Committee which meets once every half term. It must be pupil-led, represent all age groups, keep records of meetings showing how decisions are made, display these records on the Eco-board and share them with the wider community and it must take on board ideas from all pupils, not just those on the Committee.
  2. Carry out an Environmental Review at the start of each Green Flag journey to establish the environmental strengths and challenges of the school. This Review must then be used to decide the Action Plan.
  3. Create an Action Plan, which addresses Litter and 2 other topics, which should be each be linked to a UN Sustainable Development Goal. All pupils can submit ideas for action to the Committee and it must be included in the School Improvement Plan. The Action Plan must include timescales and details of how progress of an action area will be measured and evaluated and pupils on the Committee should take responsibility for some action areas. A Community Litter Pick should be included every year and the Plan should be displayed on the Eco-board.
  4. Measure, Monitor and Evaluate all Actions, sharing results with the school and wider community and the results should be used to build on successes and learn from failures.
  5. Integrate the Eco-Schools programme into the curriculum, by self-evaluating against Education Scotland's Learning for Sustainability criteria and using the results in the School Improvement Plan.
  6. Involve the whole school and the wider community. It is important that everyone in the school has the opportunity to be involved in Eco-Schools projects.
  7. Create an Eco-Code with input from the whole school, which reflects the Action Plan and is displayed on the Eco-board.

Eco-Schools Scotland - Seven Elements


There are 10 topics in total in the Eco-Schools programme. Litter is compulsory for all schools but, based on the results of the Environmental Review, pupils can choose 2 of the 9 remaining topics to focus on for their Green Flag journey. The 10 topics are:

  1. Biodiversity - All the different kinds of life you’ll find in one area—the variety of animals, plants, fungi, and even microorganisms like bacteria that make up our natural world. Each of these species and organisms work together in ecosystems, like an intricate web, to maintain balance and support life. Biodiversity supports everything in nature that we need to survive: food, clean water, medicine, and shelter.
  2. Energy - Energy can be created from fossil fuels (coal and oil) or can be renewable (sun, wind water). With an abundance of energy in Scotland, we tend to be quite wasteful. This topic is all about reducing waste and switching from fossil fuels to renewables.
  3. Food and the Environment - In Scotland, we have year-round access to nutritious, affordable food, produced both at home and imported from around the world. Most of us can name foods that are part of a healthy diet, but which of those foods are also good for environmental health locally and globally?
  4. Global Citizenship - The Global Citizenship topic is where you can include work on other initiatives like Fairtrade Schools, and Rights Respecting Schools in your Eco-Schools journey.  You might also like to tell us about any fundraising projects for charities like Mary's Meals, SolarAid or Unicef, your school's Shoebox Appeal, foodbank donations or charitable recycling like RagBag.  Lastly, individual awards like The John Muir AwardThe Duke of Edinburgh's Award or The Prince William Award are also welcome in this topic.
  5. Health and Wellbeing - The Health and Wellbeing topic covers all aspects of health - both physical and mental.  Environmental quality problems like litter, dog fouling, graffiti and flytipping all affect the quality of life of people living in Scotland, with higher levels of depression and illness amongst people who live in areas with poor local environmental quality.
  6. Litter - The Clean Europe Network defines litter as "waste of small size in publicly accessible areas that has been improperly discarded in the environment, whether wilfully or by negligence”. Litter is bad for animals and people. Apart from looking bad and reducing the quality of the location, it provides a fertile breeding ground in which bacteria thrive, resulting in a health hazard for those that come into contact with it. Litter can also create safety problems; items such as broken glass bottles and metal cans can injure people who step or fall on them. Animals can eat it, so it may poison the animal or cause it to starve by blocking its intestinal tract, or they may become trapped in it. Litter - especially cigarette and cigar butts - can pose a fire hazard and it costs the taxpayer to clean it up, which affects organisations such as businesses, city councils, local communities, and educational facilities, as the money used for cleaning up the litter could otherwise have been used to support them.
  7. School Grounds - This topics allows pupils to improve their school environment, in particular with regards to biodiversity, health and wellbeing, waste minimisation, litter and food.
  8. Transport - Transport choices make a significant difference to global carbon emissions. This topic takes a look at how people and goods make their way to school and if we can make more sustainable choices.  With air pollution being responsible for 3 million premature deaths worldwide in 2012, it is important that we make transport choices that protect air quality. 
  9. Waste Minimisation - Waste is what people throw away. Scotland produces about 20 million tonnes of waste a year.  About 20% of that is household waste – that’s almost 2 tonnes for every house in Scotland, every year. This topic is all about rethinking, refusing, reducing, reusing, repairing, repurposing and recycling.
  10. Water - Water is something many people in Scotland take for granted. We use it for drinking and washing, for industry and agriculture and for making almost everything you could think of. Water is vital to the survival of life on our planet, but clean water is becoming an increasingly rare and valuable commodity.

Eco-Schools Scotland - Ten Topics




Keep track of our progress across the 7 Elements:

  1. Eco-Committee
  2. Environmental Review
  3. Action Plan
  4. Measuring
  5. Curriculum
  6. Community
  7. Eco-Code