Lessons in sustainability

Sustainability Portfolio Leader and Year 12 student Euan Thomas reflects on his recent scuba diving trip to Lord Howe Island, where he learnt about the island's sustainability efforts.

Euan noted many of the island’s initiatives and explored the ways they could be transferred into actions at IGS.

“Cognisant of the unique natural beauty and the fragility of its ecosystems, the community that inhabits the remote NSW island is serious about sustainability,” Euan said.

“They have plans to install a minimum 1.2MW of solar and a 3.2MWh battery system. It is also the home to an impressive set of ‘live’ sustainability initiatives and innovative thinking that allows the visitor to witness many process, practices, techniques and technologies that are common in theoretical discussions on sustainability, applied in the real world on Lord Howe Island.

“The permanent resident population has an ambitious goal to achieve carbon neutrality, and, in the long term, the complete abandonment of all fossil fuels, including diesel for transport.”

Before his departure, IGS Head of Sustainability Carmelo Fedele gave Euan the book The Future We Choose by Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac. 

“As interesting as it sounded, I was reluctant to lose any time diving with hawksbill turtles or Galapagos sharks. On the other hand, it was worth considering how my experiences could inform us at IGS in our journey to greater sustainability and to reconsider the aspirations for our School and the broader community,” he said.

Euan said IGS and Lord Howe Island are “strangely similar”.

“International Grammar School has more in common with Lord Howe Island than you might expect. In terms of population, IGS is slightly bigger than Lord Howe. With a maximum population of 750, including permanent island residents, tourists and scientific, technical and community employees, and IGS with approximately 150 staff and 1,250 students, it has almost twice the population,” Euan said.

“This infers a similar resource footprint in terms of consumption and resource utilisation.

“As an urban island in the middle of Ultimo, there is much we could learn from our Lord Howe friends who are girt by sea.”

Euan said by planting more native plants, IGS could “provide respite for the birds and insects that are resilient enough to endure the pressures of inner city life”.

“We can go further, though. At Lord Howe Island they have an impressive composting program which re-uses the vast majority of their waste. During the waste audit, which Sustainable Futures conducted last November, we collected 198 kilograms of waste of which nearly 20 per cent (36.48 kilograms) was food and other compostables,” he said.

“Another type of waste which we could compost is uncontaminated paper. Paper made up 19 per cent of daily waste (37.5 kilograms). IGS could save a lot of money by composting these items.

“On Lord Howe Island’s Pine Trees resort, the only growth enhancers they use are those created by their worm farms. If we start composting at IGS, we won’t have to spend any money buying fertiliser to maintain the gardens around the School.”

Read Euan’s full article here.

Below are some images captured by Euan.