Writing an environment policy

Writing an environmental policy gives your green and climate action structure and direction. It outlines your goals and declares your environmental commitment to the world. It is an important step and we’re here to help you take it.

To help you write an environmental policy that applies to your organisation, this page covers all the areas to consider with example statements. Work through the prompts, reflect on your organisation, set your own environmental goals then share your policy webpage with us so we can help promote your work!

An environment policy sets out commitments or pledges that will improve your environmental impact. It should be short, honest and public. Then it’s time to think about how to fulfil your commitments. This requires an environmental action plan that details targets, actions, timescales and measurement – the specific steps you will take to fulfil the planet pledges in your policy.

Why do we need an environmental policy?

An environmental demonstrates commitment from senior management to take action. It also provides guidance by outlining the changes you are going to make at the broadest level. It should be clear and understandable.

How long should our environmental policy be?

Your environmental policy should outline your broad aims and commitments. 1 or 2 sides of A4 is plenty – you will need to think about specific targets and goals but these will be part of a far more detailed action plan.

What do you do with an environmental policy?

Publish your environmental policy and promote it along with your changes and climate action. If you are making changes, celebrate them! It will help you connect with environmentally aware students and influence other ELT providers to make changes too.

What should an environmental policy include?

Your environmental policy should communicate a real commitment by senior management to improve your impact on the environment and cover all the different areas you are going to make changes. It should be personal to your organisation, reflecting your offer, team, premises and area.

Although there is no standard content, environmental policies for most English language teaching centres and organisations in the UK will have similar themes:

How to write an environmental policy

Set the scene

Start your policy with a brief introduction. This should outline the purpose of your document and describe the importance of environmental responsibility to your organisation. Consider including who has approved it the policy and who is responsible for its implementation.


Set out your commitments

Your commitments should be ambitious, action-steering goals. We have listed key themes and areas to include in your environmental policy with factors to consider and example commitments. You can also click through to read more information and find more detailed actions you can take to fulfil each commitment.

GUIDING PRINCIPLES

Think about: how you are going to approach your environmental work; your values; and what you need to be successful, like setting clear specific targets, assigning a lead and monitoring progress.

Example commitments:

Involve the whole team

Set clear, measurable targets in a detailed action plan

Monitor our environmental impact and review our progress quarterly

Share our successes and failures honestly


UTILITIES AND ENERGY

Think about: how much gas, electricity and water you use; your energy company and sources; where can you find efficiencies, such as insulation and energy saving settings; and how you can improve practices. Don’t forget your digital carbon footprint.

Example commitments, we will:

Use zero-carbon energy supplies/ green energy suppliers

Reduce energy use and water consumption

Reduce our digital carbon footprint

Divest from fossil fuels


TRAVEL AND TRANSPORT

Think about: the vehicles you own and use; student flights, airport transfers, activities and excursions; staff commutes and travel on company business; and different modes of transport.

Example commitments, we will:

Quit all domestic flights

Hold meetings online wherever possible

Reduce staff travel and prioritise train travel wherever possible

Help students choose low-carbon travel during their stay

Fund environmental projects to help mitigate the impact of all student travel, both to our course and during their stay


CONSUMPTION, WASTE & RECYCLING

Think about: buying and using less; monitoring quantities of general waste and recyclable waste; providing recycling facilities; quitting single use plastics and other one-use items; staff and student behaviour; pollution; and extending the life of products and devices.

Example commitments, we will:

Minimise use of paper, plastic and other materials / become zero-waste

Prevent pollution and stop use of toxic materials (e.g. cleaning products, highlighters)

Use materials from sustainable and/or recycled sources

Refuse, reduce, repair, reuse, recycle


FOOD AND DRINK

Think about: staff food; student meals or snacks; event catering; homestay hosts; and food waste, sourcing and seasonality. Food that comes from animals like meat and dairy have the highest carbon footprint.

Example commitments, we will:

Serve only plant based meals in our canteen / at events

Always give students the option of plant-based meals

Provide information to students on why we are providing plant-based meals

Work with the catering team to reduce food waste


SUPPLIERS AND PARTNERS

Think about: supplier policies, transport, materials and supply chain; choosing new suppliers or working together for change; talking with homestay hosts and other accommodation providers; working with agents and partners; and other ethical commitments like fair trade.

Example commitments, we will:

Work with suppliers to encourage high environmental standards

Work only with suppliers that meet our standards of …

Raise awareness with agents and ETOs


LEARNING, TEACHING & ENGAGING WITH NATURE

Think about: including environmental topics throughout the curriculum; engaging students in climate change topics that are relevant to their life; encouraging agency through student activities; learning in nature; learning environment; tone and assumptions.

Example commitments, we will: 

Embed environmental topics into teaching

Help students connect with and respect nature

Create a culture of learning and respect among staff and students

Support and encourage teachers with training and information


COMMUNICATION & RECOGNITION 

Think about: transparency and accountability; gaining support from staff and stakeholders; attracting environmentally conscientious students; and achieving green accreditation, quality standards and other recognition. Sharing your activities and green credentials will not only inspire others and help create more change, but will help you connect with student values too.

Example commitments, we will:

Communicate our environmental impact clearly and widely

Raise awareness of environmental issues in our organisation and sector

Promote environmentally friendly lifestyles in school, in our community and in the UK ELT sector

Gain Green Standard Schools status


COMMUNITY & PARTICIPATION

Think about: staff and student involvement from decision making to delivery; staff training, roles and responsibilities: local projects and connections beyond your organisation. Lasting change needs everyone onboard.

Example commitments, we will:

Create a green group/ action group/ student and staff committee

Support staff with the necessary training, information, time and resources

Support local environmental projects and fund climate action