Sustainability is so much more than recycling paper & reducing the use of plastic
The Big Picture
Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone else planted a tree long ago
Warren Buffet (Sustainable Investor)
Sustainability is so much more than recycling paper and reducing the use of plastic straws and bags. At Green Shoots, the concept of ‘enough, for everyone, forever’ is firmly established at the core of all decision-making processes. The school aims to create a balance between the different strands of sustainability and between the immediate educational needs and wants of our community and their longer-term goals. Its strategic planning process uses a tool developed by Compass Education to measure how sustainable each action will be in one or several of four compass points:
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world
Nelson Mandela (Political leader)
Green Shoots choice of curriculum demonstrates its commitment to sustainability in the classroom.
Reggio Emilia approach
Children in theEarly Yearsfollow a Reggio Emilia approach to discovery using natural ‘learning tools’ such as shells and sand, as well as upcycled toys made from things like tyres, tree branches, and ‘pre-loved’ cooking utensils. From this early stage right through the school, children learn to switch off taps, lights and air conditioners when not in use.
Sustainability & Curriculum
Older childrensee sustainability woven into their curriculum through specially chosen IPC units in primary and Environmental Management, Global Perspectives and the Green Shoots in-house course, Community, Environment, Life Skills and Sustainability (CELS) in secondary.
Green Shoots Global Certificate
The Green Shoots Global Certificate includes a Sustainability strand which connects children with local sustainable businesses and builds their leadership skills.
Teachers integrate examples of sustainable learning into other areas of learning, not simply those dedicated to the subject, and invite parents and members of the local community to share ideas.
Resources & Equipment
The use of resources and equipment is monitored and explained so that children learn why they should bring their own water bottle to school, how plastic glitter is damaging to the environment, and what goes into their lunch each day. Assemblies, whole-school celebrations, film nights, and other get-togethers reinforce these messages.
Upcycled playground toys, a food waste bin that should remain as empty as possible, trays for recycled paper….these ‘signs’ make sustainability visible and help children and adults alike absorb lessons about minimising waste without knowing they are learning!
Names matter too. Each year, students rename their class, choosing an endangered animal, a plant, or another element of nature as their mascot. The Green Shoots school houses are named after natural elements: water, air and earth.
Spaces & Processes
We borrow from nature the space upon which we build
Tadao Ando (Architect)
It is not just students who are encouraged to live sustainability at Green Shoots; teachers and support staff are a large part of the learning process and are constantly modelling sustainable practices.
We buy food, cleaning products, and other school supplies locally and from sustainable suppliers wherever possible, supporting small local businesses and improving our own carbon footprint at the same time.
Energy & Chemicals
Ours is not a purpose-built campus and was not designed with energy efficiency in mind, but that does not deter us from reducing energy use wherever we can. We:
Replaced and expanded windows and doors to improve insulation and allow for the use of natural airflow rather than air conditioning as much as possible.
Eat outside, not in an air-conditioned canteen, taking advantage of the natural sea breeze and strategically placed low-energy-use fans.
Avoid chemical cleaning agents and insect/pest deterrents whenever possible, preferring instead natural products such as lemongrass, vinegar, orange peel, and coffee grounds.
Printing & Product Recycling
Teachers work within a strict printing budget, recycling paper and using online resources as much as possible. Parents are encouraged to bring in paper and plastic products (toilet rolls, water bottles, etc) for use in art and other classes, and school reports are issued digitally unless a physical copy is requested. In secondary, our students increasingly use digital textbooks that reduce both our paper consumption and air miles.
Reusing & Upcycling
Much of what you will see on campus is reused or has been upcycled (improved and changed after reaching the end of its former life). Many playground toys were made by the Green Shoots maintenance team from tyres, bamboo, wooden pallets, and other upcycled items. A bamboo Christmas tree found a new life as a climbing frame for plants while an old swing frame became the support for a crowd-funded climbing wall in our Bamboo Garden.
No single-use plastics are allowed on the Green Shoots campus, a policy we hope will encourage our community to keep up at home too!
Food & drink
Mealtimes are an important part of the sustainable learning journey at Green Shoots.
Food is produced fresh each day and, where possible, leftovers are frozen for future use. Whatever cannot be saved, or is left behind on plates, is recycled and fed to local pigs in our community.
Children are taught to monitor their food consumption, finding the right balance between taking enough to feel full while not wasting food on their plate.
MSG is absent from our menu, which also contains regular meat-free days for the whole school, and a vegan option everyday for those who choose it.
Drinking water goes through reverse osmosis filtration on-site to ensure our community always has access to clean fresh drinking water.
In the Community
‘Small acts, when multiplied, can transform the world’
Howard Zinn (historian)
Student action initiatives are planned with sustainability in mind. Green Shoots works directly with educational charities in Quang Nam province that provide sustainable education opportunities to the children they serve. Sponsorship is maintained over time to ensure stability in order to make a significant difference in the lives of benefactors. Through fund-raising for these charities, and through ad hoc initiatives to support our community (such as a food and clothing appeal after devastating floods hit villages in 2020, compounding the economic impact of COVID-19 on small communities), Green Shoots students learn about inequality and the importance of addressing it for global long-term sustainability. They discover how to align their actions with the United Nations Sustainability Goals.
Parents are invited to contribute to sustainable community learning. They are involved in the classroom, sharing ideas and knowledge through book readings and presentations on topics of interest around a sustainable theme, and in community events such as our regular Beach Clean-ups.
Green Shoots Staff
Green Shoots staff are also active sustainability warriors. They have developed a freecycle system for recycling baby clothes, and other ‘pre-loved’ items through the community, written sustainability into their teaching practice, and contributed ideas and support to community events. In return, the school invests in its staff to build long-term stability for our community. A range of benefits for national staff - such as an Emergency Fund that helps their families through times of crisis, subsidised family member health insurance, and an on-campus staff childcare facility - means team members are willing to commit to the school as much as it commits to them, which allows us to develop local skills, build capacities, and create a stable environment for both our Vietnamese staff and for the expatriates whose lives are more transient.