IH schools take part in Environmental Challenge

To celebrate World Environment Day today (June 5th), we want to share some of the environmentally sustainable actions our schools carried out as part of our recent IH 7-week Environmental Sustainability Challenge.

The challenge was inspired by our IH Young Environmentalists Project earlier this year, when the students came up with a plan to encourage people to take positive actions to protect our planet. Motivated by this brilliant green group, we decided to challenge our network of International House schools to get their staff and students involved in protecting our planet!

Each week, there was a new theme for everyone to get involved in and show their sustainable actions. By sharing photos, videos and positive messages on social media with the hashtag #IHProtectingOurPlanet, we hoped to spread our green message and inspire others to become more green.

To energise you for World Environment Day, find out what our schools did for each of the challenges below!

Week 1: Sorting out the rubbish

In the first week, we encouraged our schools to sort out their rubbish. This is something they almost certainly did already, such as DILIT IH Rome, who shared a photo of their students with the inspiring message that even small sustainable gestures are good for our planet.

At IH Galway, the school introduced the recycling system into every classroom – not just the common areas – to encourage recycling in the whole school. They also de-cluttered and recycled anything they didn’t need anymore, and dedicated some of their English classes to discussing the environment.

At IH Braga, because they are not currently in the school to use their recycling bins, they dedicated one of their young learner online lessons to talking about sorting out the rubbish and recycling and got the students to design their own signs to encourage recycling.

IH British School Reggio Calabria came up with a challenge where they posted close-up images of rubbish and asked their social media followers to guess which recycling bin the item should go in. A fun way to test our recycling knowledge!

Week 2: Saving water and electricity

During the second week of the challenge, we encouraged our schools to save water and electricity.

IH Galway posted about their commitment to saving water and electricity. They said,

“As part of the 'IH 7 Week Environmental Sustainability Challenge' ♻️ we installed a new water filter in our break room. 🥣 Before this, we had several standing water coolers around the school, which were plugged in and using electricity 24/7. 🗓 Now, our students can avail of our drinking water in the breakroom. 🍶 It is healthy and refreshing and it's not using up a lot of electricity! 😀

We are getting LED light bulbs 💡 installed throughout our school, as these are energy efficient. ⚡️ We are also posting reminders in each room, to make sure that the last person leaving each class switches off the lights. 😊”

IH Voronezh-Linguist shared a video from Conservation International (CI) where Julia Roberts, Harrison Ford, Edward Norton, Penélope Cruz, Robert Redford and Ian Somerhalder all join forces to give nature a voice. There are more videos to watch from Conservation International, including virtual reality films to really immerse yourself in the topic of sustainability.

IH Braga in Portugal shared their sustainable actions in this theme on their social media. Their green actions include turning off the lights when rooms aren’t being used, closing classroom doors to keep rooms warm or cool (depending on the season) and saving rain water to water their plants and gardens.

Week 3: Grow plants at home

For week three, we wanted to find out more about our schools’ collections of plants and flowers, or whether anyone had their own vegetable patch or fruit plant – and they did not disappoint!

IH Galway shared a collage of photos of their plants and said, “We went out and got some lovely plants for our school 🏛 and we found that they do more than enhance the overall appearance of the school. 🌱 Indoor plants boost moods😀, increase creativity🎨, reduce stress🧘, and eliminate air pollutants 💚— making for a healthier, happier you!😊

IH British School Reggio Calabria encouraged their social media followers to share stories about their most loved houseplants. Each story had a theme, such as perseverance, triumph, gift giving and luck.

IH Voronezh-Linguist posted a lovely photo of their two tomato plants named 'Katiusha' and 'Maestro' which live in the Central Branch. They shared the photo with the message “Take care of plants, filter the air and fill your space with green vibes” – we couldn’t agree more! They also put together a team of “eco heroes” who potted 29 plants which then moved into homes around the community.

IH Rome - Accademia Britannica, IH Toulouse, DILIT IH Rome, and IH Tallinn also shared some photos of their beautiful plants!

Week 4: Environmentally friendly shopping lists

For week 4, we encouraged our schools to make environmentally friendly shopping lists.

IH Galway took to the shops and shared a few tips:

✅ Make a shopping list: Plan out your meals before you go shopping and this can really help to reduce overbuying and throwing out unused food. Bonus tip: write your shopping list on your phone, to avoid wasting paper!

✅ Avoid doing your shopping when you are hungry: More often than not, when we are hungry, we will buy a sneaky treat typically packaged in lots of plastic.🍫

✅ Choose your food wisely: Try to go for the foods with the least packaging, use reusable bags for loose fruit and veg and purchase environmentally friendly cleaning products.

At IH Sydney, their Junior Programs students got very creative and made a video about environmentally friendly shopping lists which you can watch here!

IH Bristol challenged their staff and students to make a shopping list and stick to it and see if every single item could be used in some way. We hope they discovered some new meals along the way!

Week 5: Walk more, use cars less

In week 5, we challenged our schools to use cars less!

IH Milano encouraged their staff and students to complete all of their journeys during this week without a car. Or to count their steps/KMs for a bit of friendly competition!

A similar challenge was shared by DILIT IH Rome, who shared a photo of one of their students cycling to school. A great way to keep the air as fresh as possible!

Week 6: Clean-up day

For week 6, we encouraged our schools to take part in a Clean-up Day!

During the IH Young Environmentalists Project, the students gathered to clean their local park. They collected all the rubbish, sorted it out, and took it to a recycling centre. IH Galway decided to do the same in the beautiful sunny Eyre Square in the heart of Galway. They shared a video on their social media with the caption, “We collected all the rubbish and sorted it into the correct bins. A little effort to be more environmentally sustainable can go a long way and we made quite a difference to the cleanliness of the square.” Well done team IH Galway!

Week 7: Eco lessons

The final push for week 7 required our schools to reflect upon the eco lessons they learnt over the past few weeks and put them into practice.

To sum up their experience, the Young Environmentalists made a list of recommendations.


  • Sort out your rubbish and take it to a nearby recycling centre.
  • Save light by switching it off when you leave, water while brushing your teeth and paper when you print documents out: use both sides of the paper.
  • Grow and take care of indoor plants, vegetables or fruit as they make the air in your house cleaner and your diet healthier!


    • Make a list of foods that you intend to buy and keep to it while shopping (avoid being hungry then as well).
    • Walk or use public transport instead of going by cars in order to reduce the number of exhaust fumes.
    • Collect trash in parks, roads, streets as well as near your house, school or office.

How are you marking World Environment Day 2021? Share your actions with us using the hashtag, #IHProtectingOurPlanet