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Seven ways to help protect the planet

In part two of our feature on sustainable schools, we showcase some of the environmental projects that IB students are involved in

1. Create a school garden

“A sustainable school garden, or the ‘living classroom’ as some people call it, is the perfect holistic playground and it enables students to reconnect with the natural world helping them on their way in becoming caring and responsible global citizens,” says Ratko Johan, a teacher at Matija Gubec International School, Zagreb, Croatia.

Matija Gubec International School garden in Croatia

Its school garden grows varieties of vegetables native to the bio-region, as well as different kinds of fruit, herbs and spices. “We planted a large number of lavender bushes and this is used to make lavender soap during design classes. We plan to grow enough fruit in the future which could later be turned into jam by students who go to food technology classes,” he says. The school also has a seed library. Anyone can borrow seeds from the library as long as they return the same or more seeds at the end of the growing season.

Henry J Kaiser High School, Honolulu, Hawaii, has created a peace and sustainability garden growing crops such as lettuce, spinach, carrots, basil, oregano, papaya, eggplant, squash, kale and cabbage. It is part of a student-led environmental club called the Wipeout Crew (@wipeoutcrew) who took part in this year’s #generationIB event with beach clean-ups and other environmental projects. The students built planter boxes and helped grow awareness of native plants and local agriculture.

Student gardeners at Henry J Kaiser High School Hawaii

2. Reduce waste and reuse items

Primary Years Programme (PYP) students at Lexington Elementary School, California, USA, noticed that their campus was producing a lot of trash. The students began by weighing the garbage, reporting their findings, and encouraging other classmates to pack trash-free lunches. They realized they needed to know what was trash, what was compost, and what could be recycled, so they contacted the local garbage company. The students formed a group called the Green Team and created signage for the cafeteria. They now maintain worm bins on campus and are using the castings for native planting projects.

They also joined together in a letter-writing campaign to ban straws in school, and with the help of another school site, they succeeded in getting straws banned in the entire district. This has inspired the school district to provide compostable napkins and reusable metal cutlery.

3. Recycle

IB students from Southville International School and Colleges, Manila, Philippines, ran a campaign called Shades of Blue (@EnvIBSISC). They campaigned to raise awareness of plastic pollution and environmental conservation with a student pledge and a public art exhibition. They also organized a booth for students to drop off their e-waste items and have them delivered to a recycling centre.

Grade 11 students from Antwerp International School, Belgium, collected bottle caps to help the environment as well as helping support the training of guide dogs. The Royal Dutch Guide Dog Foundation sells the donated caps on to be recycled into plastic pellets.



4. Upcycle

PYP students at Jamnabai Narsee International School, Mumbai, India, are helping to implement a ban on plastic bags in their state by creating reusable cloth bags made out of old discarded t-shirts.


5. Run a school co-op

Matija Gubec International School has a school co-op, which brings together various extracurricular arts and crafts activities. Together they make products such as lotions, soaps, traditional toys, jam, cookies, handbags etc. When these are sold, the students get to decide how the money will be spent on future products thus learning the basics of fair trade and a sustainable economy.

School co-op at Matija Gubec International School in Croatia

6. Campaign for change

Students at Angels International College in Faisalabad, Pakistan, worked on a solution for a cleaner and healthier city. They campaigned for the use of biodegradable bags in local shops and restaurants and went on the radio to share their experience.

The Wipeout Crew at Henry J Kaiser High School got involved in local politics by helping to convince the state legislature to sign Bill 2571, prohibiting the sale of sunscreen that contains chemicals harmful to Hawaii’s coral reefs. The Wipeout Crew participated in this ban by attending presentations and open forums at the State Capitol. They held booths at Hanauma Bay and the Waikiki Aquarium to inform the public. And they hosted the biggest sunscreen exchange in the state.

Check out the Wipeout Crew’s free online book: Be the Change: A Guide to Saving our Oceans.

7. Partner with groups in the community

Kim Johnson at PYP candidate school Franklin Elementary school, Missoula, USA, who has developed a zero waste classroom with her PYP students, says: “We were given free composting services for a year by a local start-up company that wanted to help us out. We have two different groups that pick up our plastic and use it for different purposes. We also partner with a business that provides education and tools for our students in the area of reducing and recycling. There are so many good businesses and organizations out there—just find them and ask for help.”

For more #generationIB environment and humanity projects, check out #environmentIB

Read part one: How sustainable is your school?