A SCHOOL project aimed at getting rid of plastic water bottles gave Erin Stewart and Karyn Winder an idea.

The teenagers - who are fourth year students at Duncanrig Secondary in East Kilbride - feel passionately about the need to tackle climate change.

"School is a great place to start talking about the damage being done to our planet, and what we can do about it, through energy or recycling or cutting down plastic waste," explains Karyn.

"It gets young people talking about it and they take it back to their families and their communities and things start to change.

"When we saw how the plastic bottle project went, we wanted to go the extra step and form our own eco-group at Duncanrig, to really start to change things at school and in our community."

Erin agrees. "This is really, really important," she says. "I've been aware of environmental issues for a while, but when Greta Thunberg started to speak up and the school strikes started to happen, that really brought it home to me. What Greta did was say what everyone else was too afraid to.

"It also made me realise that I'm not 'too young' to do something about it."

Pupils from across Scotland are standing up and speaking out about climate change. In recent months, Swedish activist Greta Thunberg has galvanised young people, inspiring them to take part in Friday school strikes to demand urgent action on climate change.

More than 1.8 million schoolchildren around the world took part in two successful global strikes, and governments are starting to listen. Young activists are driving change across Scotland - Glaswegian teenager Erin Curtis, for example, blasted the Tory leadership candidates on live television as she became increasingly frustrated by a string of "non-committal" statements on the environment. Erin was part of an audience quizzing the then contenders for No 10, including Boris Johnson, on a range of subjects, including the target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2025, widely set by environmental campaigners.

She sent social media into meltdown when she pointed out all five men did not come close to offering the "drastic change" needed to tackle the impending climate emergency.

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Pupil-led projects are springing up in schools across Scotland. In Glasgow, for example, Sunnyside Primary pupils have been blazing a trail in the world of conservation for a number of years. They kick-started nationwide awareness of anti-plastic initiatives with their #NaeStrawAtAw campaign to get rid of plastic straws.

The city school is one of more than 100 primaries, nurseries and Additional Learning Support (ASL) units which have signed up to Glasgow City Council's Schools Charter. By taking part, schools pledge to complete at least three environmental tasks or projects a year. At Duncanrig Secondary, staff admit they were taken aback by the way the plastic bottle project gathered momentum.

"It started as a Scottish Studies class project called Wan Use is Nae Use," explains teacher Allan Wilkie.

"A small group of senior pupils came up with the idea, having seen how much waste is generated in the school at lunchtimes and breaktimes.

"They started trying to convince their fellow pupils to stop buying single-use bottles and it really was amazing - it took off immediately."

He adds: "I think there is a real desire from young people to make changes and really tackle the problem. All of the staff are very proud of the way the students have kept it going."

The pupils made posters, successfully lobbied South Lanarkshire Council for more water fountains, delivered assemblies to younger students and enlisted the support of local firm Highlander Recycling, who helped to finance new reusable water bottles.

A competition for new first year pupils resulted in 80 designs being incorporated on to the bottles, which are now being sold in the school.

Brian Bingham, sales director at Highlander Recycling, says: "The importance of recycling will only be fully understood if we educate our young people. Pupils need to be involved in running projects like the one taking place at Duncanrig Secondary. This is only the start of the project and it's bound to grow. Getting involved in this brilliant scheme has been a hugely positive experience."

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Duncanrig's Depute Head Ingrid Boyd says: "The young people are educating us. We are really proud of what they have achieved so far - we have become a template school for this kind of project and other schools are coming to us to find out how we did, so they can do something similar."

For Erin and Karyn, the next step is to set up a structured eco-group which can address other issues in the school and in the local community.

"The bottle project has been brilliant so now we want to get to a point where we can get rid of the vending machines and things like plastic cups," says Erin.

Karyn says: "Our school has such a big population - more than 1700 students - so it's a good place to start. When I was at primary school, we had an eco-group and lots of environmental education and then you come to high school and there is nothing happening.

"We really want to change that. It's our future that will be ruined if we don't, after all."

Erin adds: "It feels like it is our responsibility, as the young generation, to do it - but it's also the responsibility of the older generation to help us."

School is a great place to start talking about the damage being done to our planet, and what we can do about it