Express English College has received some excellent news to kick off the academic year. The college has been accredited by Green Standard Schools as an environmentally friendly language learning school! We are delighted to have had our serious commitment to protecting the environment formally recognised by a global, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to preventing disastrous climate change.
Climate change has been an undeniable backdrop to the pandemic. With the recent confirmation from the World Meteorological Organization that the world’s weather-related disasters have increased five-fold since 1970 (McGrath, 2021) and the United Nation’s confirmation that human impact is unequivocally at fault (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2021), a disturbing acceleration of climate catastrophes has been globally evident throughout 2021.
Dramatic flooding swept through swathes of Germany, Belgium and other parts of Northern Europe in July, devastating unprepared urban areas (McGrath, 2021). Air pollution has been found to slash the life expectancy of billions of people by six years at minimum (Carrington, 2021). Record-breaking wildfires ravaged vast areas of land in California, Siberia, Algeria, South Africa, Greece, Turkey, Italy and France; many countries – spanning most continents – suffered deadly wildfires on a regular basis throughout the year (Pultarova, 2021; BBC News, 2021). Climate change anxiety is now a common emotion for many of us as we witness the all-too tangible effects of a shift in seasons and an alarming intensity in weather patterns. The impact of climate change on mental health is now being officially recognised by major psychiatry organisations (American Psychiatric Association, 2021).
In Manchester, EEC’s home, 2021 has seen torrential downpours last for weeks, oppressive heatwaves and too-oft overcast skies shroud the city. A report from Transport for Greater Manchester’s Low Emission Strategy makes for sobering reading. By 2040, if global carbon emissions are not drastically cut and offset, Manchester can expect intense rainstorms, increased flooding, the spread of invasive species and an increase in heat-related deaths (Cox, 2015).
EEC, as a provider of internationally-focused education, has long been committed to reducing its carbon footprint. Language education can have a more deleterious effect on the environment than other areas of education. It’s a well-known fact that total immersion in a country of the target language is a superior method of language learning (Memrise, 2020). However, as students fly around the world to study this can lead to a greater increase in carbon emissions resulting in a very negative impact on the environment. Even a short flight, such as returning to London from Berlin, emits around 0.6 tonnes of CO2e – three times the emissions saved from a year of recycling (Timperley, 2020). EEC is pleased to offer online courses for students who want this option to benefit from our excellent education provision.
Language learning also typically goes through a huge amount of paper as students work through thick grammar workbooks, dictionaries and endless print outs. The environmental impact of paper production is mammoth: 40% of the world’s commercially cut timber is used for paper; 30 million acres of forest are destroyed annually by paper deforestation and 10 litres of water is needed to produce one piece of A4 paper (The World Counts, n.d.).
EEC wants to be part of Manchester’s commitment to become zero carbon by 2038 (Manchester Climate Change Agency, 2021). We have been working hard on our environmental policy for some time. We are fully committed to ensuring the college undertakes positive actions and promotes a suitable educational ethos that contributes to global environmental sustainability. The college believes that unnecessary waste/wastage, needless use of fossil fuels and careless or uninformed attitudes to recycling, repurposing and reusing have no place in a forward-thinking educational organisation. Therefore, we foster values that help to raise awareness of environmental dangers and embed actions and procedures that contribute to a responsible use of, and care for, the earth’s resources.
Our environmental policy was a big factor in assuring accreditation from Green Standard Schools. A few of our policies that they found particularly noteworthy included our commitment to becoming totally paperless by December 2021. Through significant investment in electronic learning resources, using Dropbox to store all files and our adoption of a ‘green approach’ to preparing lessons we are successfully on track to meet this commitment. All classrooms are fully equipped to teach interactively and we ask students to recycle their course books by returning them to us at the end of their course. There really is no need to print or photocopy anymore!
Another area in which we scored top marks is in the reduction of our energy consumption. We have successfully reduced our electricity usage by a whopping 41% and our water usage by 11% since 2020. All lighting in the building has been changed to LED lights and TVs are set to auto switch off if not being used. We also use energy companies that supply 100% of their energy from renewable resources.
The little things matter when it comes to the environment. We are hot on recycling round here at EEC, and we encourage all our students and staff to use the different recycling bins in our leisure/kitchen areas. We don’t provide any needless single use plastics, such as plastic cups, instead asking our students to bring their own reusable water bottle or use the provided reusable cups. Our water is filtered, so no need to buy a bottle of mineral water! We also ensure that no toxic waste products enter the drains from the college by only using bio washing-up liquid, hand wash etc. We also try to shop locally and sustainably for all our products.
Following on from a £137m project to transform the city’s walking and cycling routes (BBC News, 2019) Manchester can boast one of the UK’s best cycling networks. EEC is proud to support this with our environmentally focused policy aimed at reducing the amount of public transport and car journeys undertaken by students and staff. We are very happy to pay 10% of the cost of a bike for anyone working or studying at the college.
We have also made a concerted effort to systematically bring environmental education into our learning syllabuses. No one can know too much about the environment, and it is imperative that everyone is as informed on environmental issues as possible in the fight against climate change. This is why we use course books with a weighting towards environmental awareness, such as National Geographic Life and Cambridge Empower books. Additionally, the majority of our extracurricular activities have minimal environmental impact in terms of public transport and energy usage. We are also pleased to support the National Trust by offering our students 10% of the price of an annual membership fee.
EEC is the first school in Manchester and only the third English language school in the UK to be accredited by Green Standard Schools, something the college is exceptionally proud of. As a member of Green Standard Schools we can be assured that our reputation as an outstanding English-language educator is being enhanced through our support for the environment.
EEC and Green Standard Schools share a mutual ethos that environmental education is paramount in the fight to minimise the harmful effects of climate change on our planet (Green Standard Schools, 2021). As a member we must honour the twelve environmental commitments set out by Green Standard Schools and will also have access to their digital platform of teaching resources. Watch this space to see how our English teachers plan to incorporate these resources into lessons! In the meantime, let’s all keep educating ourselves on – and talking about – the environment. And don’t forget to recycle!
You can learn more about Green Standard Schools here.
American Psychiatric Association. (2021) New APA Poll Reveals That Americans are Increasingly Anxious About Climate Change’s Impact on Planet, Mental Health. Available at: https://www.psychiatry.org/newsroom/news-releases/climate-poll-2020. [Accessed 2 September 2021]
BBC News. (2021) Algeria forest fires: At least 65 people killed as fires spread. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-58174918. [Accessed 1 September 2021]
BBC News. (2021) France wildfire: Thousands evacuated as blaze rages near Riviera. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-58243066 [Accessed 1 September 2021]
BBC News. (2019) Greater Manchester unveils £137m of cycle and walking projects. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-47657811. [Accessed 2 September
Carrington, D. (2021) Air pollution is slashing years off the lives of billions, report finds. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/01/air-pollution-is-slashing-years-off-the-lives-of-billions-report-finds. [Accessed 1 September 2021]
Cox, C. (2015) Nightmare climate-change vision of Manchester 2040: Flooding, invasive species and heat-related deaths. Available at: https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/climate-change-vision-2040-manchester-10250908. [Accessed 1 September 2021]
Green Standard Schools. (2021) [online] Available at: https://greenstandardschools.org/About. [Accessed 2 September 2021]
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (2021) [online] Headline Statements from the Summary for Policymakers. [online] Available at: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/downloads/report/IPCC_AR6_WGI_Headline_Statements.pdf [Accessed 2 September 2021]
Manchester Climate Change Agency. (2021) [online] Available at: https://www.manchesterclimate.com/ [Accessed 2 September 2021]
McGrath, M. (2021) Climate change: Big increase in weather disasters over the past five decades. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-58396975. [Accessed 1 September 2021]
McGrath, M. (2021) Climate change: Europe’s extreme rains made more likely by humans. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-58309900. [Accessed 1 September 2021]
Memrise. (2020) Immersion language learning: The best way to learn Spanish. Available at: https://www.memrise.com/blog/why-immersion-is-the-best-way-to-learn [Accessed 1 September 2021]
Pultarova, T. (2021) The devastating wildfires of 2021 are breaking records and satellites are tracking it all. Available at: https://www.space.com/2021-record-wildfire-season-from-space. [Accessed 1 September 2021]
The World Counts. (n.d) A useful but wasteful product… Available at: https://www.theworldcounts.com/stories/Environmental_Impact_of_Paper_Production. [Accessed 1 September 2021]
Timperley, J. (2020) Should we give up flying for the sake of the climate? Available at: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200218-climate-change-how-to-cut-your-carbon-emissions-when-flying. [Accessed 1 September 2021]Tags: business english, General English, IELTS, learn English in the UK, دورات اللغة الإنجليزية في لندن, دورات لغة انجليزية في بريطانيا