Eco Beasts goes from strength to strength

by Ewen Mcleish

International recognition for efforts to promote child-led environmental change.

Inspirational young people have brought concerns about our damaged planet into the mainstream. And youngsters are leading calls for more sustainable lifestyles, greener approaches to business and government action across the world. International schools are challenging themselves to tailor the education they offer to prepare their students to tackle the environmental problems we face.

“Educators must make all young people aware about sustainability as it’s now a significant part of the culture students are growing up in. Moreover, children are increasingly interested in it,” said Paul Scholfield, the headteacher of St. Andrews International School Bangkok, a Nord Anglia Education School. “If schools do not get this right, where will we be in 15 or 20 years time?” he asks.

Enter the Eco Beasts initiative. The ‘BEAST’ standing for Bangkok Education for Action on Sustainability Team.

The Eco Beasts Project, the brainchild of environmental educators Helen Mullan and Katy Waring, started life at St. Andrews. It aims to connect Bangkok’s international schools with local environmental organisations and green businesses, as well as support teachers in delivering sustainability in the curriculum.

The initiative led the members of ‘Eco Beasts STA’ to develop an action plan focusing on the changes they would like to see implemented at St. Andrews. The 7 to 11 year olds worked tirelessly during after-school club time to put their plans into practice and had quite an impact.

For example, after learning about the environmental effects of animal agriculture, children met with the school’s catering company to discuss lowering meat consumption. The Eco Beasts explained their reasoning to fellow pupils, teachers and parents during assemblies and events. All children provided feedback on the new menu and St. Andrews became the first school in Thailand to implement Meat Free Monday.

The children were also fully involved in the launch of the country’s first school-based zero waste shop. Members of the community can now buy snacks, toiletries and household cleaning products in refillable and reusable containers eliminating the need for single-use plastic. The students submitted designs for the layout of the shop, helped choose the shop’s name (‘Little Steps to Zero Waste’), and created an instructional video for parents showing how to purchase items in this special shop.

St. Andrews is delighted to have been shortlisted in the International School Awards ‘Environmental Initiative’ category for both its support from the outset of Eco Beasts and for running an impactful after school programme. Over 250 initiatives were nominated this year in a range of categories to highlight some of the best practices in international school learning, teaching and leadership. The awards ceremony will take place in London on 20th January 2020

Fingers crossed for recognition at the awards ceremony later in the month!

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