As our global knowledge and resources grow, we become more aware of the environment and the human impact on its decline. The latest eco initiatives aim to do more to reduce natural resource consumption and production of harmful gases, like the Net Zero climate targets set by the UK.
Schools are now looking towards the future and considering the impact that they can have on the environment in the long term, whether that’s by direct impact from the school’s consumption or by positively impacting the generations of the future.
Eco-Schools is one of the largest global initiatives for school sustainability, with schools based in over 70 countries around the world. The popularity of Eco Schools demonstrates the drive towards sustainability and the increasing focus on environmentalism in the education industry.
What eco initiatives have you considered for your school? And why is the Eco Schools programme so popular? We’re going to take you through all you need to know about Eco Schools and why you need to consider what the future looks like for your establishment.
- What is an Eco School?
- Top Eco School initiatives
- The benefits of becoming an Eco School
- iSAMS features for Eco Schools
- Supporting your school environment with comprehensive software
What is an Eco School?
As stated above, Eco Schools is extremely popular among schools globally as a guiding force for sustainability initiatives. The Eco Schools ethos is based on the premise that the future of the planet lies with the younger generations and engaging them to become environmentally conscious individuals is the best way to secure their future.
Their approach is to encourage behavioural shifts on a small scale every day that enables students to take sustainable ideas with them as they develop into adulthood. There are a number of small initiatives that fall under the Eco Schools umbrella. This year, their primary focus is called the “Litter Less Campaign” which drives communities to reduce litter and waste.
An Eco School embodies all of these ideals and implements small changes within their institution that improves student awareness over time. Whether you’re based in the UK, the US, Europe, or elsewhere, there are always steps that you can take to improve environmentalism in your community.
Top Eco School initiatives
So, what should you be doing to improve your student’s awareness of the environment? Whether you register in the Eco Schools programme or not, they provide some great ideas for small initiatives that you can adapt for your school. Here are just a few of the top sustainability initiatives found in schools across the globe.
School composting and gardening
There are a variety of reasons why you should consider building a school garden. Beyond sustainability and environmentalism, gardening and being outside is great for your student and staff’s mental health. By getting your students involved in gardening, you are providing them with a lifelong skill and showing them a great way to practice mindfulness.
Alongside gardening, composting can help to reduce outgoing waste and turn it into a usable resource for your school grounds. Savvier finance departments at larger schools might even be able to find a way to generate funds with a good composting and gardening facility.
Recycled school materials
Ultimately, the bigger your school, the more materials are required to keep you running. Your students use plenty of pens, pencils, textbooks, paper towels, and more each and every day. While they might seem like small items individually, finding a sustainable supplier can have a considerable impact on the consumption of your school. Recycled materials are now readily available and it’s important to make the shift.
Single use plastics
With multi-use packaging being so readily available today, there’s really no need to be investing in wasteful single use plastics. Not only are they bad for the environment, but they’re also bad for your school budget.
Encourage your school community to invest in multi-use for items like school lunches and water bottles, especially on school trips. Consider where you’re wasting un-recyclable resources and how you can shift the approach to reduce that waste and improve the experience for students and staff.
Start eco and sustainability clubs
The younger generations are already far more aware of their environmental impact, and over 80% of them are keen to take action in order to improve the environment. Provide them with a safe space that they can explore that interest and encourage their passion.
Provide your club members with a level of autonomy over green initiatives in the school and support their ideas. Clubs don’t have to be only sustainability focused. You could provide the facilities for a gardening club, a vegan or vegetarian clubs, or animal conservation clubs, as just a few examples. Engage your student body and find out where their interest lies.
How can you reward your student body for getting involved in green initiatives? What rewards look like will be different for each school, but it’s important to motivate your students to work towards a more sustainable school environment and to spark innovation.
Similarly, consider how you can encourage your staff to get involved in any green programmes. Sustainability requires a whole school approach, so you need your entire school community to get involved.
Increase green space
You might be thinking, our school facilities are only small, or we don’t have any green space on our school grounds. It doesn’t matter where you’re located or what’s already available to you. You can always increase green space.
If you’re lucky enough to be surrounded by greenery, make sure you’re providing plenty of opportunity for your students to enjoy the outside facilities. If not, find ways to bring the outside indoors. Greenery is great for your school community’s mental health and can really have a positive impact on the learning environment.
The benefits of becoming an Eco School
Improving sustainability and reducing consumption in your school can often require some investment. However, in the long term, sustainability and environment awareness pays dividends.
Shaping the minds of the future
Sustainability is a long-term game. We can’t reverse the damage overnight, but we can learn new habits and behaviours to take with us into the future. This is an important ethos for any school as they have the opportunity to shape the future through the younger generations.
Seeing students become positive, well-rounded individuals is the most rewarding part of working in a school, and environmentalism now plays a key part in their development.
Resource management for school budgets
Put simply, the less you consume, the less you spend. This applies to larger scale resources like energy, and to smaller resources like single use plastics. Overall, reducing usage in your school can help you to reduce your spending and optimise your budget for more important projects.
Energy bills are still rising, and any changes that you can make to reduce energy usage will go a long way to conserving funds.
Improved learning environment
Ultimately, a greener environment is a healthier environment. This isn’t just true for students, but for your staff and teachers. Creating a positive learning environment motivates students to perform and enables your teachers to get the most out of their time in the classroom.
Better teacher performance facilitates student performance, and vice versa. Provide your school community with a natural and organic environment for them to flourish in.
iSAMS features for Eco Schools
iSAMS is always keen to work with schools to find the best solutions for them and support their goals. We already have a number of features built in to iSAMS and our wider solutions that can help to support your sustainability goals and drive towards becoming an Eco School.
- Go paperless: A number of iSAMS solutions were built to encourage schools to go paperless with their processes. Our cloud-based servers ensure that all data is stored securely across all of our solutions. Your teams can operate completely cloud-based across Admissions, Finance, HR, Communications and more, to reduce your school’s resource consumption. Your enrolment forms, permission slips, surveys, report cards, and other paper-based documentation can now all be digitised with consent permissions and accessed anywhere.
- iFinance: Our bespoke cloud-based finance solution has a number of features to encourage more streamlined and efficient data storage, including our AP Inbox for incoming purchase invoice automation and document digitisation, Audit Trails, and Collaborative Cloud Accounting. Your full system automatically works on the cloud with suppliers and incoming fees to reduce the need for internal storage and paper copies.
- API and Integrations: We know that iSAMS cannot provide every solution that each individual school needs to run at their best – though we may try! That’s why we created our iSAMS API, to encourage you to build the full school software solution that you need to meet your goals, whether sustainability targets or otherwise. For example, many of our schools are integrating Microsoft Teams for integrated learning, distribution of projects, planning, and communication with students and parents. This integration removes the need to distribute information using paper-based communication.
Supporting your school environment with comprehensive software
Whether you’re interested in signing up to the Eco Schools programme, or just looking to improve your school’s sustainability effort, it’s clear there are plenty of benefits to becoming a greener school.
As your school grows, you need your school software to grow with you. The iSAMS MIS is 100% cloud-based and versatile, allowing you to build a system according to your individual needs.
Our comprehensive API enables you to work with your preferred systems and combine those into a strong foundation for your schools' operations.
Leighton Park School in Reading works with iSAMS API’s on a daily basis, and you can hear from them below.
- 5 tips for promoting student wellbeing in your school June 10, 2019
- 5 top tips to make writing your end of term report easier March 26, 2019
- The impact of exam season on student wellbeing June 06, 2019
- How to prepare your school timetables May 23, 2019
- Preparing schools in the new normal May 21, 2020