IH Torres Vedras awarded the IH Sustainability Badge

IH Torres Vedras has been committed to being as green as possible for many years, with actions directed at making a real and thoughtful impact towards protecting our planet.

Educating students on environmental sustainability and global citizenship is one of the most valuable things schools can do. IH Torres Vedras has integrated these topics into their curricula for some time. The “Robots” project in summer 2019 saw students making robots entirely from recycled material – newspapers, magazines, comics, toilet and kitchen roll tubes. The project fitted in with their coursework – a fun way to tackle a serious topic. Annual Christmas competitions to produce a festive decoration using recycled materials have been in place for a few years.

Recently teachers have been making more of environmental topics in the coursebooks, though in person group projects have been put on hold until students can mix again freely in their classrooms. Undeterred, students from the school have taken part in a cross border online project (with other IH schools) to create materials to raise awareness of the environmental impact of fast fashion.

The community in the city of Torres Vedras and its surroundings is very important to the school. Since 2016, the school community have taken part in an annual “Wellness Walk” which also raises funds for local causes. Despite the current pandemic restrictions, a staff committee is brainstorming ideas for an alternative event in 2021.

Reducing the negative impact of travel is high on the agenda of any environmental scheme. Whilst a global desire to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is often spoken about, reducing the pollution we all breathe in is very important.

Capitalising on what has been learnt in 2020 about the effectiveness of online learning, IH Torres Vedras aims to continue to offer online group courses to adults and juniors alongside their traditional face to face courses into the future. In fact, there is the possibility that adult group classes will only be available online even after the pandemic. This will have a positive effect in reducing those shorter polluting journeys and the inevitable congestion around the school building.

The school has always been conscious to minimise wastage. Energy waste has been reduced by replacing light bulbs with LEDs, shutting down and switching off all PCs at the end of every day, and educating staff and students not to over-use the air conditioners, as well as restricting the range of temperatures available. Print and paper waste has been reduced by re-using paper to print on both sides, choosing black and white as the default, and by enforcing a policy of only print what is definitely needed. Unused and surplus single sided copies are donated to local primary schools for re-use. Plastic waste has been reduced by giving students paper drinking cups not plastic, and by giving students material book bags. This last activity has been going for over 20 years!

One of the IH Torres Vedras buildings has a large garden. Whilst this has been designed for the Portuguese climate, in extra dry conditions they are watered through rainwater collected from the roof and stored in an old well. Not only do the plants prefer this untreated water, it reduces the demand from local rivers and aquifers helping to preserve wild native fauna and flora, some of which enjoy the benefits of having this urban green space.

We have absolutely no hesitation in awarding this badge to the school, and we hope that these achievable actions will inspire other IH schools so that they too can help protect our perfect planet!