“The only way forward, if we are going to improve the quality of the environment, is to get
everybody involved.” – Richard Rogers
At IH Belfast, we are determined in our promise to act as environmentally responsible as possible AND to
provide a sustainable travel destination that students can be confident in. Working with our students, employees, host families and suppliers, we hope improve our impact on the environment and even start giving back.
During our 2022 ‘Green Standards Schools’ accreditation, we identified the below actions which we already do and which we can improve on, to achieve a lesser footprint on the world.
Carbon Footprint and Woodlands
At IH Belfast, we donate to the Woodland Trust Northern Ireland. This not only helps with our carbon footprint, but also maintains historic woodland, plants more trees that are indigenous and improves biodiversity in Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland ranks badly as one of the least wooded regions in Europe, with just 8.7% woodland cover compared with the European average of 37%. In addition, almost 60% of our woodland is in the form of recent conifer plantations.
Since 2017 we have significantly reduced the power used (by 55%) and constantly work to maintain and improve upon this reduction. IH Belfast does not use any fossil fuels in heating the school. We use exclusively electricity, of which 53.4% is renewably sourced. We have also started the process of replacing all traditional light fittings with LED alternatives.
We recycle all suitable materials at the school. We have recycling bins throughout the school and we have a weekly recycling collection. We are limited to one bin (240 litres) of recycling per week, as per our collection agreement with the council. We work hard not to exceed this limit and rarely do. Our recycling
collection includes plastics, glass, paper and aluminium.
Single Use Plastic
IH Belfast has banned single use plastics in our day-to-day operations:
- We have a fully stocked kitchen full of plates and crockery that can be washed and reused repeatedly.
- We supply ceramic cups with our coffee machine that we wash each day.
- Drinking water is available from the taps in the kitchen and glasses are readily available.
- In the instances when plastic containers are used, we have recycling bins placed throughout the school.
- Our whiteboard markers are made from 90% recycled plastic.
After switching to using exclusively recycled paper in 2020, this year we have set ourselves the challenge of reducing our paper usage by 50%. After looking at the numbers we are confident that we can. We are introducing this limit hand-in-hand with workshops to encourage and train teachers to use Google Classrooms and we hope to be in a position to reduce figures further next year. As a student, you can help us by letting teachers know which hand-outs were useful and which ones you’d rather have an electronic version of… the only way forward is to get everybody involved! Some of the measures we used to get to where are are as follows:
- IH Belfast is proud to be one of the first schools in the world to introduce a paperless CELTA course!
- Limiting colour photocopies
- Admin staff now capture and record information electronically. For example:
- all medical and feedback forms are captured online;
- admin files are stored only in electronic format;
- brochures are only available in PDF formats;
- social programme sign-up sheets are reusable
Our Young Learners summer camp at Share Activity Village has environmental education at the heart of it, in particular the principals of ‘Leave No Trace’ and looking after nature, both of which recur throughout the programme. In our adult school, lessons are frequently geared around environmental themes such as recycling; climate change; ecosystems and population; greenhouse gases; forestation; travel and pollution and renewable/nuclear energy.
Our supply chain
We use companies who are environmentally aware, have recycling options and provide sustainable products. For example:
- We use recycled paper products that we order from ‘Viking Direct’ who have a Wood
Fibre Procurement Policy.
- Our photocopier supplier is a local business that recycles all printer cartridges for us.
- We use ‘Lyreco’ to provide and recycle our coffee pods, who have an award winning environmental policy themselves.
“The Earth is what we all have in common.” – Wendell Berry.