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Going green on the Black Sea shore

It’s been an uphill battle, but an IB World School in Istanbul is raising environmental awareness within its community with positive results

Environmental awareness is not high on the agenda in Turkey. To tackle this, the British International School in Istanbul set up an Environment Committee five years ago at its then new campus near the shore of the Black Sea.

The committee – made up of IB teachers, IB students, parents and the campus manager – started with small achievable actions. It has since transformed the school community, and is making strides in ensuring environmental awareness is now taken seriously.

Working together, the committee has embedded environmental education into the school curriculum, including organizing a local recycling project, planting trees, cleaning local beaches, setting up student Enviro Clubs to educate students and faculty about carbon footprints and selling re-usable water bottles. The school also hosts regular assemblies to raise awareness.

The ‘Green-Fingers Gardening Club’, which is run by students and teachers, has also been a success. Through bake sales and own-clothes-day collections, the club raised funds to buy tools, a hosepipe, seeds, seeding trays and compost.

English Teacher Mark Muller says: “Individual students have been tasked with growing their own vegetables from seed and will be allocated equal space in the plot, which we will prepare and maintain together. While the winter weather kept us indoors during our scheduled sessions, we researched gardening practices, made bird feeders and informed ourselves about the climate crisis.”

Raising environmental awareness at the British International School in Istanbul hasn’t been easy. “Sometimes it feels like a losing battle in this world of unsustainable hyper-consumption, says Muller. “While students in the primary section of our school are keen and amenable, those in secondary, with a few stirling exceptions, have been less enthusiastic in their participation.

“Nevertheless, heartened by the example of courageous activists the world over, we have raised environmental awareness on our campus through the slogan: ‘Think global, act local’.”

This article is part of a series of stories from IB World magazine that bring to life the wonderful initiatives undertaken by IB students and educators from around the globe. Follow these stories on Twitter @IBWorldmag #IBcommunitystories. Share your great stories and experiences: email editor@ibo.org