On Thursday 29 September, around 150 boys attended environmental workshops delivered by Planet Mark, a national climate certification business working with Eton College and over 500 organisations. Along with House Masters and Dames, the boys learnt about the environmental impact of food, goods and companies, while workshopping ways for their Houses to reduce their carbon footprint. 

Led by four representatives from Planet Mark, many of whom have worked in biodiversity and decarbonisation for businesses, the workshops kicked off with roundtable discussions about food sourcing, as boys traced the journey from farm to fork of that morning’s breakfast. When asked about how the activity made him feel, one House Master was simply “guilty” about the trail to get food on the table, from farming to transportation and processing, many of which are very carbon intensive. 

It was a very engaging seminar, with thought-provoking activities. The speakers were very upbeat with infectious energy that spread across the room.

Planet Mark audits carbon budgets to help organisations measure their environmental impact as “you can’t improve what you don’t measure”, while Eton is committed to reducing its carbon emissions in addition to efforts across all areas to address sustainability. Planet Mark also look at the holistic goals of a business, putting people and planet alongside profit. They are one of only 11 UN-recognised companies recommended in the Race to Zero, referring to carbon neutrality and reducing the planet’s emissions. Working with the Institute of Directors, Google, Amazon, and many other big names, as well as the UK government, Planet Mark aims to “measure, engage, and communicate”, simplifying the jargon surrounding the climate crisis today. They are now working with Eton to help get the School to net zero by looking at energy sources and waste, and by conducting a midnight survey of unnecessary light and heating. 

As well as encouraging discussion and actionable goals in-house, such as sorting recycling more and creating more green spaces, as “agency is the antidote to anxiety”, Planet Mark promoted working for a company that aligns with the values of the boys. They emphasised how many people entering the workforce today choose firms or even industries based on their environmental impact. Boys and staff workshopped scenarios where CEOs have to balance the needs of various stakeholders such as consumers, shareholders, and workers, and saw how nuanced and tricky it is to navigate situations. They discussed qualities that make good leaders in business, and how that can be transferred to House staff and senior boys within the School.

Environment Rep for Warre House (JMG) Fola A said, “It was a very engaging seminar, with thought-provoking activities. The speakers were very upbeat with infectious energy that spread across the room.” 

Despite initial reservations about what the future may hold, through the workshops most people became more optimistic about the state of the planet, and felt more empowered to enact real change. Planet Mark will continue to work with Eton, which now has a certification from the company, and the workshop will return in the Lent Half to see how Houses have got on with their targets. 

Thanks go to Ms Pauline Herbommez and Ms Kerri Hicks, our Directors of Environmental Education, and the team from Planet Mark.