What am I doing to make the Earth happy?

Professor Steve Van Matre’s question to the Forest School community got me thinking again about our sustainability policy.

Are there more things we could be doing to live out what we are teaching at Forest School and in our training? Are we truly modelling and developing ‘long-term, environmentally sustainable attitudes and practices in staff, learners and the wider community’?

We are committed to removing all single-use plastic from our shopping. We use environmentally friendly cleaning products, have a toileting policy that respects watercourses ( another blog to follow soon) and we teach our groups to compost. 

We are reducing packaging and ensuring that wherever possible we purchase resources from charity shops, to reuse and repurpose items. Our current favourite repurposed item is an antique Ice Pick used to make holes in syrup tins for making charcoal and char cloth.

Instead of plastic boxes for resources, we are using old suitcases. Many purchased from the wonderful “Crooked Book’ shop in Bournemouth.

We often buy locally baked bread, seasonal fruit and vegetables, our meals are mainly vegetarian and/or vegan. Clearly, we can do better than this!

“unless the next generation does a better job of caring for the planet than we have done, climate change will do more than provide us with hotter summers and wetter winters”

Understanding that ‘ecology’ comes from the Greek word ‘oikos’ meaning dwelling, helps us look at our work from an ecological perspective.

Teaching children and young people that the woodland is home for trees, plants, snails, birds and foxes. Helping them discover through nature connection and explicit teaching that all living things rely on the sun for energy, for life and are interrelated will be one of the most valuable things we teach through our Forest School programmes. 

Knowing that unless the next generation does a better job of caring for the planet than we have done, climate change will do more than provide us with hotter summers and wetter winters.  Clean ‘summer holiday journey’ windscreens have had me wondering where all the insects have gone. Yesterday at the dentists, I read that in just 25 years over three quarters of flying insects have vanished from German nature reserves ( BBC Nature).

Many third world rural and coastal communities will face yet more starvation, flooding and destruction.

Nations around the world are addressing the issues of climate change and social injustice holistically; putting political will and environmental education together in innovative ways. This November saw politicians and scientists meeting in Egypt for the UN Biodiversity Conference titled ‘Investing in Biodiversity for People and Planet’.

This year our own government published ‘A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment’, setting out ‘to improve the environment, within a generation’.

I believe Forest School is one of the most cost-effective, impactful ways to do this. By learning new skills, being outdoors, teaching others and finding inspiration in the Forest School Principles through intergenerational community and nature connection we can promote sustainability in a way that shows directly how people can make a difference. Benefitting our society, and those of the future. 

To read more: United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

To listen more: UN deputy general addressing students in China

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