Extreme weather, rising sea levels, extinction of plants and animals. Don’t use plastics, don’t burn energy, don’t fly on holiday. There are no end of negative messages about climate change and irreparable damage to the world’s ecosystems.Read More
IH schools - you can do this!
All students and all staff in IH schools around the world are aware of the need to protect the environment. We know that all IH schools are already taking many actions to protect our planet, and want to do more. It’s time for the whole IH network to lead the way and making a real difference for the future - think what we can achieve!
Here is a useful framework for schools to plan how to take actions in more areas. Many of these are straightforward, with no cost.
Why should IH schools do this?
- It's the right thing to do - we all need to protect our precious planet.
- If you communicate all the ways that your school is acting to protect our precious planet, you will tap into a subject which teenagers and young adults are particularly engaged with.
- If you complete actions across eight categories, and complete the IHWO Sustainability Review, IHWO will give a formal acknowledgement in the shape of a digital badge that you can use on your website, social media, in school, and on marketing publications,
Positive contributions to promote environmental sustainability
Research shows that although saving our planet may seem an impossibly large task, even small steps toward making sustainable behaviour the default will have positive benefits.
We encourage all IH schools to make these positive steps to protecting our planet.
Positive 1. Educate students about environmental sustainability
Add environmental topics into the curriculum, either occasionally, or across a series of lessons, or start projects with an environmental focus. You will find some general guidance in this introductory blog, and
- Read about IH Como Merate's summer camps with the theme of Global Guardians
- Read about the re-greening projects of IH San Sebastian
- Read about IH Sofia's responsible global citizens curriculum
Positive 2. Encourage sustainable behaviour
Create an expectation in your school about making sustainable behaviour the norm. You could have notices around the school about recycling, and introduce more recycling bins, or you could recommend students use sustainable transport. There is some general guidance in this introductory blog, and
- Read about IH Galway's introduction of recycling bins into every classroom
- Read about IH Reggio Calabria's walking meetings
- Read about IH Rouen's sustainable lifestyle
- Watch this videa about all the schools from IH Voronezh to IH Mexico taking part in the Young Environmentalists Projects
- Read about all the schools from IH Dusseldorf to IH Arezzo taking part in the 40,000km walk challenge
Positive 3. Increase community involvement
Where people care about their local community, they are more likely to care about the wider environment. Most IH schools are very well rooted in their local community, especially where you teach local children. There is general guidance in this introductory blog.
By participating in local social projects, perhaps through charity initiatives, both teachers and students will contribute to develop a socially responsible behaviour.
- Read about IH Bangkok's work with refugee children, supported by the IH World Foundation
- Read about IH Rouen's charitable activities
Postive 4. Source food sustainably
Food production, and food miles, are one of the world's largest contributors to global warming. Read here about the hidden costs of food production.
If you provide food in school cafe's or welcome overseas students to your city, think about the actions you can take. Source responsibly and encourage students to try local produce which has less food miles.
- Watch this video about environmentally friendly shopping lists from a group of young learners at IH Sydney
Positive 5. Set sustainability requirements for suppliers
You can have a positive effect on the environment by choosing to buy from suppliers who have a sustainability policy, or by lobbying them to commit to one, Read the background to this in this general blog.
- IHWO have a commitment to ask all suppliers for their environmental policies
Positive 6. Manage a sustainability strategy
It would be wonderful if every International House school committed to involve every member of staff and every student in making a material difference to protecting our planet by setting a strategy and managing it just like any strategic plan for the school.
- Read about IH San Sebastian's Sustainability Committee
Miniminsing the negative we have on the environment
There is no doubt that human activity, consuming stuff and travelling around, has a detrimental impact on the environment. We need to do less of the bad stuff.
Minimise negative 1. Reduce travel
To halt global warming we all need to cause less carbon emissions, and for most people in the developed world travelling less will have the biggest impact.
- Read about IH Intuition's commitment to go carbon negative
- Read about how the staff at IH Rome Accademia Britannica are using their bicycles more
Minimise negative 2. Reduce energy consumption
Using energy to heat and cool our homes and places where we work, often means burning fossil fuels which are significant contributors to global warming. Read general information here about how to ease up on the heating and air conditioning. Taking simple actions like replacing light bulbs with low energy LEDs, insulating buildings, and switching off heating and ar conditioning when its not in use are important.
- Read about how IH Rome DILIT saved 2000kg of carbon emissions
Minimise negative 3. Reduce use of consumables
Consuming anything has an environmental cost; in its production, delivery, and disposal. Reducing use – where we can – is the most effective thing we can do to help the environment. Read guidelines for using less stuff here.
Minimise negative 4. Re-use and re-cycle
If we can't reduce what we have to buy, re-using and re-cycling are the next best things to do. Read some general ideas here.
- Read about IH Torres Vedras' robot recycling project
Minimise negative 5. Reduce water consumption
Even if you are not in a country where there is a drastic scarcity of water, taking water out of the environment to pipe into our homes means it’s not there to flow down rivers and support the flora and fauna which grow naturally and provide a rich diversity of wildlife. Cutting back on piped water consumption, such as adding a dual flush to toilets, and ensuring taps are not left running will minimise this negative effect.
- Read some ideas here of actions all schools can take.
Minimise negative 6. Reduce environmental footprint of new buildings
It doesn’t happen very often, but sometimes schools move premises, open a new branch, or open new student accommodation. If you are in that position, take a moment to think about the environmental footprint of the new building you are choosing to ensure you're doing as much as possible to protect our planet. You can weigh these up alongside the other criteria that you have for building choice, like location, size, cost, etc.
The IH Sustainability Review
If IH schools are taking actions in eight of these categories above, IHWO will give you a formal acknowledgement in the shape of a digital badge that you can use on your website, social media, in school, and on marketing publications,
IHWO Environmental Sustainability Policy
At IHWO we are ambitious in our contributions to the safeguarding of our planet and in minimising the negative impacts we have on the environment. We have made seven commitments in our policy <<here>>
For all the activities that IHWO undertook during 2020 and 2021, we were delighted to have been highly commended in The PIEoneer Awards 2021, in the Sustainability International Impact Award category.