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May 16, 2020

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Grade 11 Goes Green

Wednesday, 2 October, 2019


Keep close to Nature's heart... and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean. (John Muir)

As part of the recent focus on the ‘core’ of the IBDP and IBCP, Grade 11 sent a day focussing on sustainability.

The sessions and activities began with a report and summary of the recent 'Education for Sustainability Leadership' summit hosted by BBIS last May. The summit, led by the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership, was brought to BBIS by the then-director Peter Kotrc. Students and staff from BBIS joined others from international schools and educational organisations to hear from experts in climate science and leaders from academia and charities. The summary report focused on the urgency of the situation, the problem with our existing economic worldview, which sees nature as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the economy, and the need for compassion in responding: both for ourselves and for each other, as we try to do the right thing in the face of a complex and potentially overwhelming predicament. Then, in small groups, students were asked for ideas about how BBIS, and the broader community, could and should act. Together they generated many ideas which included:

Energy Use

  • Conduct an audit of energy use at BBIS;
  • Signs to remind people to do simple things like switching off lights and heaters;
  • Instal solar panels;
  • Look at insulation;
  • Use more efficient, energy-saving light bulbs;
  • Invest in a carbon reduction project:
  • Investigate, and respond to, water usage;
  • Battery drives

Climate Change

  • Teach climate awareness lessons (for example the growing problem of fast-fashion clothing);
  • Plant trees


  • Encourage the use of bicycles, public-transport;
  • Use trains instead of aircraft for longer distance travel


  • Stop using plastic bottles. Students should bring their own containers;
  • Reduce food wastage;
  • Investigate alternatives to paper napkins in the cafeteria;
  • Print less / mandate double-sided printing;
  • Encourage electronic note-taking rather than paper / pen;
  • Move to e-books (text books) rather than paper;
  • Ensure that sorted litter goes to different places (have dedicated skips)
  • Use recyclable wooden cutlery instead of plastic cutlery at events;


  • Use sustainable building materials for any future construction;
  • Encourage vegetarian and vegan options in the cafeteria;
  • Encourage students to be involved in the garden for food production and to learn more about the environment;
  • Move from plastic bags to recycled paper bags in the cafeteria;
  • Encourage boycotts of unethical practices

Students and staff spent the afternoon exploring the local woods as part of a growing relationship with local conservationists (Bäketal) to get to know our land-base and reconnect with the natural world on which we all depend. Two people from Bäketal joined us for the afternoon.

The main task was to ‘audit’ the plant species that can be found in the woods. One of our BBIS colleague's partners is a botanist at the botanical garden and he kindly made a preliminary audit so that we knew the names of over 100 species of plants, indigenous and introduced, which can be found there before we set off. The students were divided into groups and assigned a 'zone' in the forest to carry out the audit.

As an example of technology meeting nature, an App. was used to gather pictorial data which was collected on a central electronic site for analysis later. The students were also asked to record any insect life, bird life or other. The central idea was that they experienced the beauty and diversity of nature through sight, sound, touch and smell.

At the same time, the group collected the litter in the woods, observing our human impact. The type of litter we found was recorded and bagged separately, according to type.  

The groups competed to identify and record the most species. The two joint winning groups identified and recorded 36 species. The prize for the winners is that, in their names, we will replace trees in the neighbouring forest where young trees have been vandalised.