Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Why the school bus might save the planet

The snow on Kilimanjaro is melting and climate chaos is creating ‘floody hell’ all over the place, so, yes, we’d probably better do something about the environment.
Within the limits of time and energy, I try to do my bit, but, really, I know it’s not much. I couldn’t bear to give up my car or wash cloth nappies. Or, flying off on holiday. I think about it really hard but I just can’t do it.
So I was really very pleased when our council announced they were going to make it easier to recycle more of our rubbish. Less toxic stinky dumping; more reuse, recycle and whatever the other thing is.
I won’t bother pointing out the ironies of the glossy instruction leaflet, duplicate stickers, mini wheelie bins and reminder flyers, it’s just too easy a target. They have to get the message across somehow and I wouldn’t want to have it written out on used chip wrappers or the back of bus tickets.
I think we’ve got the hang of it – yukky landfill-bound stuff in the grey bin and clean glorious recyclable stuff in the gleaming new blue one. Marvellous, bring on collection day.
Then Boys One and Two both brought home their November school newsletters full of news of council – the same one committed to a rosy, green future with their blue bins – plans to cut back the kids’ bus service.
We’re in a sprawling village and three buses rattle and fart their way up and down the roads taking our whining morning-faced babes off for their education and delivering grubby little homework dodgers back at the end of the day.
If you live more than a mile from school – and 151 pupils 42 per cent of the roll do – you can get the bus.
To save money, the council wants to shift the qualification boundary to two miles – that’s an awful long way for a five year old, twice a day. And, this is Scotland, so it’ll probably be an awful long way in the rain. Did I mention the busy roads – doting parents who live less than a mile from school or those whose darlings missed the bus – and the hills?
We could walk our angels to school every day, but, like nappies and going without continental holidays, it’s just not going to happen. Especially not in our house where Boy Three makes more than a meal of his breakfast weaning.
The upshot will be nasty, ill-tempered gridlock and unnecessary tonnes, gallons or whatever they measure pollution in of planet-wrecking fumes.
And the really potty thing, some form of transport – most likely rattly, farty buses – will trundle past our road ends to collect the pupils who live more than two miles from school.

PS Most children come home in the summer term with backpack after backpack stuffed with the fruits of their labours. Jotters, pictures, filled-in printouts, it never seems to end. With Boy One in Primary One it was a joy – so proud to see what he’d been up to. But now both of them are at it, we’re snowed under and I realize the school simply doesn’t want to be the author of so much garbage.
However, what I have noticed is that many - perhaps even most – of the jotters aren’t used up, not even halfway. There are pages and pages of pristine notebook that aren’t going to grace a classroom – or probably anywhere else – again. Surely they must make less fat notebooks or teachers prepared to break that rule that insists on a clean slate with the new school year. It’s not going to rescue Kilimanjaro, but it might just help keep the bus coming to the door.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, I know - North Ayrshire has just announced that kids living more than two miles away have to walk.

    Apparently it's a government target but it does seem a bit of a hit on the vulnerable. It's a Scottish Government dictate tho. Apparently if the kids within two miles were getting the bus then that was a kind gesture from your Council. The limit is three miles and Renfrewshire were "being nice."

    Seems hard to hit the kids tho, I agree...


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