Saving the Planet One Meal at a Time

Awareness of food choice and the effects on the environment has a long history at ISY. Learning about food and the environment has been embedded in the curriculum since the adoption of the ‘Environmental Consciousness’ strategic theme in 2018. This theme goes hand in hand with our mission of compassion and vision of positive change. By applying an interdisciplinary approach the themes of food and the environment have then been studied across subject areas and further strengthened through our commitment to the UN SDGs and the ISY Learner Outcome to create ‘Agents for Positive Change’. These themes will continue as part of the new strategic theme ‘Sustainability’ which is one the themes guiding ISY over the next 5 years.

Learning about food waste in the classroom led to a collaboration with the local company Bokashi to begin school wide composting of food waste. This program continues today with dedicated food waste containers around school. Since that time, each year, elementary school classes have learned about composting and engaged in many different experiments. Last year Pre-K filled a number of different containers with soil and then added different components to see how they affected the growth of seedlings. Grade 2 this year are engaged in a similar experiment to see how plants grow in containers with different levels of compost contained in the soil. Grade 4 have created their own compost this year with their own food waste and are in the process of growing plants from this compost.

This in turn led to a number of Green Initiative clubs and After School Activities including a number of gardening clubs. Secondary school students have developed these themes in a number of ways during the same period. Composting in the secondary school not only looked at food production but also from the perspective of pollution. Leaf burning around ISY is one of the main contributors to localized pollution and a group of secondary school students in the ‘Green Initiative’ club went out into the community to provide education on how leaf composting could be beneficial and at the same time reduce pollution.

Last year, middle school students engaged in a three week long project focussed on SDGs called iMPACT.  Students from the middle school worked with leadership from high school students to come up with groups focussing on issues related to the SDGs.  Food related groups included ones focussed on food insecurity and malnutrition (SDG 2) as well as the group ‘WASH’, who looked at clean water.

Just before Covid, some high school students decided to create a club to lobby for no meat on campus one day a week. Meatless Mondays was formed as a result. They had been studying the alarming effects of meat production on the environment caused by deforestation. The club presented to the school administration and then to ISY food vendors. The result was that on every Monday, no meat was served anywhere on campus.

Following the re-opening of school for in-person classes there was a change to the food vendors and a new one was sought. What ISY was looking for was a food vendor who could reflect the values of environmental consciousness and at the same time present tasty and healthy food to our students at a reasonable cost.  The restaurant ‘Nourish’ came on board with an all vegan menu that satisfied both our requirments of delicious food that is at the same time being extremely healthy. Our other vendor ‘Gusto’ then also started an all vegetarian menu providing consistency across the campus.


The next step in this journey has been the adoption of the policy that all events taking place on campus have vegetarian only food served. The recent Family Fun Fair was a great example of this where around 20 external food vendors were present all serving vegetarian only options. Alongside this, the secondary student group ‘Green Initiative’ had a stall whereby people could exchange their food waste generated at the event for cookies and brownies.

Look out for more initiatives like this as the new strategic theme ‘Sustainability’ is embedded in the ISY culture.