Toilet cubicles in a primary school

New RCSI project links water conservation and well-being in Irish schools

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A project led by RCSI’s Dr Jolanta Burke is enhancing environmental education in schools across Ireland by improving water conservation behaviours and psychological well-being among students.

The ‘Greening Your Mind Challenge’, funded by the Irish Research Council New Foundations Scheme, aims to demonstrate how individual actions in water usage can align with broader goals like the UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), while also promoting global citizenship among schoolchildren. 

Dr Jolanta Burke, Senior Lecturer at RCSI's Centre for Positive Health Sciences, explained the project’s objectives: "By focusing on water conservation, we're looking to make a direct impact on global sustainability efforts while enhancing students' psychological well-being. This initiative will help students understand the importance of balanced, purposeful living that takes into account both their own well-being and that of the planet."

Drawing on insights from a previous proof-of-concept study across six post-primary schools in Ireland, the ‘Greening Your Mind Challenge’ is delving deeper into the relationship between environmental actions and adolescents’ well-being. This involves the evaluation of a one-week intervention on students’ environmentally friendly behaviours relating to water conservation and well-being.  

Surveys and interviews are being used to collect data on water consumption, water waste, awareness of water conservation practices, and attitudes towards sustainable water use, alongside assessments of psychological well-being. 

To date, little is known about the impact of specific school-based environmental interventions on students’ well-being. The effort also aligns with recent calls for a stronger emphasis on environmental education in schools, highlighting the need for informed and sustainable actions from a young age. 

RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences is committed to supporting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We contribute significantly to the achievement of these goals and make a difference to human health through projects like this as well as a continued focus on initiatives that advance sustainability and improvements in global health and well-being.  

RCSI is currently ranked number one in the world for ‘Good Health and Well-being' in the Times Higher Education (THE) Impact Ranking 2023. 

RCSI is committed to achieving a better and more sustainable future through the UN Sustainable Development Goals.