NHSG - December 2023 Sustainability Update

December 2023 Sustainability Update

December 19, 2023

As part of our commitment to environmental awareness and responsibility we have implemented a number of initiatives this year that we would like to bring to your attention. In particular, the completion of the EduCate Bronze Award and Queen’s Canopy Award have provided valuable external recognition of our commitment to integrating climate change and biodiversity threat education into our core values. Members of our staff sustainability team have completed comprehensive UN-accredited training and this has been cascaded to the whole staff team via a number of internal training sessions.

One significant step this year, as part of our drive to improve our waste management processes, has been the installation of a large scale wormery at Junior School that is intended to enable us to process a large proportion of our food waste without it ever leaving our site.

The addition of our Worms at Work has sparked much excitement amongst staff and pupils but also draws attention to the issue of food waste and valuable lessons on responsible consumption. Pupils actively participate in the process by depositing food waste into designated “worm-food” bins. In time, we intend to utilise the nutrient-rich compost produced by the worms for landscaping and horticulture across all of our school sites, creating a tangible connection between environmental consciousness and daily practices in our school.

Our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint extends to various initiatives, most notably, over this summer break, including the replacement of all of our lighting, throughout school with LED alternatives. We have also encouraged pupil participation in a number carbon buster challenges, introduced recycled paper for printing and encouraged the use of online exercise books to reduce paper usage.

In addition, we have made further progress in sustainable travel, with increased uptake on the school transport system and plans for new routes in the upcoming year (see separate article). This concern, highlighted by Senior School pupils in a recent pupil forum cycle on sustainability, will be a focal point for the next ‘Touch of Green Week’ in May 2024.

We promote sustainable living through annual events like the ‘Touch of Green week,’ focusing on various aspects of eco-friendly living and engage in external initiatives, including contribution to a Government white paper on independent schools’ journey to Net Zero and Sustainability; raising funds for the charity ‘Just One Tree’, resulting in the planting of over 600 trees globally; and the introduction of accredited carbon offsetting contributions to all of our school trips.

In 2024, we have further ambitious projects on the horizon, including aiming to become a plastic-free school, attaining Green Flag school status, collaborating with the Woodland Trust, and partnering with ‘Energy Sparks’ to significantly reduce our energy consumption. We are busy integrating sustainability into co-curricular activities too, particularly during the first week of December, where various clubs have been highlighting developments at COP 28.

Finally, we are exploring new avenues to protect and enhance biodiversity on all four school sites. This has commenced with vital pond maintenance carried out by our keen eco team on a very cold and snowy Saturday this December, with the intention to improve the wildlife habitat value of our school pond.

To support increasingly threatened urban bird species, such swifts, sparrows, and starlings, we intend, in the Spring Term, to initiate a pupil-led fundraising campaign to support the introduction of a greater diversity of native planting to improve wildlife habitats and installing bird and bat boxes across all of our school sites. Engaging the school community and external supporters in this initiative is intended not only to enrich the biodiversity of our school sites but also to help illustrate to pupils the collective impact that community engagement can have on preserving and promoting the natural world. We would be very pleased to hear from any parents who would be interested in supporting this initiative.

Stay tuned for updates on this exciting venture as NHSG continues to strive towards creating more welcoming and nurturing environments for diverse forms of animal life.