Use less stuff

Humans use lots of stuff. It’s just what we do. But it creates waste which is a problem, and it’s only getting worse.

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 and protect our planet. And that can cover all aspects of environmental sustainability, from reducing the primary finite resources that are mined or extracted, to reducing the amount of water and electricity used in their manufacture, to reducing the amount of petrol and diesel in delivering them to you.

Some IH schools (for example, IH Rouen) have gone paperless in the classroom, saving not only a huge environmental impact, but a big paper and photocopy bill as well. 

Possibly the best way to go about this is get a sustainability club started in your school.

Environmental or sustainability clubs are a common fixture in schools and workplaces and are easy to set up. It may even be that there is a particular member of staff with an interest in this area who will lead this in your school. 

Staff and teachers will be aware of what is used, and what could easily and efficiently be reduced.  If the people in your school come up with the ideas, it’s more likely they will make them happen.

To set you off on the right track, anything that can be used over and over again is better than a single use item. Even if you do not go totally paperless and use textbooks, even though it may have a relatively high carbon footprint (maybe 1-2 kg per book), if used in every lesson over the course of a year that is OK.

Single use plastics are definitely worth trying to cut down on because there is not only a carbon cost in their manufacture, but they regularly end up where they’re not supposed to be, such as in the ocean, and badly affecting wildlife. Turtles and seabirds are often found dead with plastic bags in their stomachs. When we throw single use items away, they will end up somewhere, and that somewhere may be killing the animals around us. 

Whatever they think of, we are sure your sustainability clubs will come up with some good ideas.

Read more about the IH Environmental Sustainability Scheme >>