The Pledge commitments

The Green Action ELT Pledge is made up of 99 commitments across all areas of operation, from energy to events, materials to marketing. It has been created for all kinds of organisations and professionals in the language learning sector, and is designed to both celebrate and help guide environmental action.

If you are a freelancer or in a senior role at your organisation and you are ready to make your commitments, you can take the Pledge by completing this form. If you would like to view the commitments before you start, find a full list below.

The Pledge is divided into nine areas. Within each area, commitments are organised into three levels: bronze, silver and gold. To take the Pledge, signatories must commit to all the applicable bronze level actions in each area.

These levels contain increasingly comprehensive environmental actions, making the Pledge accessible for those at the beginning of their environmental journey while also showing the wide scope for action available to our sector. Hopefully, by including both initial and more ambitious steps, we have created an easy-to-follow environmental action plan to help you take action more easily.

The Pledge can be taken by any organisation or independent professional in the language teaching sector, so there may be some commitments that are not relevant to you. Take a look at the ‘i’ icon on the pledge form for further information about each commitment and select ‘n/a’ if appropriate.

When you take the Pledge you will be able to mark yes, no or n/a against each commitment:

  • YES: We already do this or commit to do it within the next 12 months
  • NO: We are not ready to do this yet
  • NOT APPLICABLE: This doesn’t apply to my organisation or to me as a freelancer.

At the end of each section we encourage you to add any further details in the comment box provided. This could include a link to your environmental action plan or other resources, a fuller description about your environmental work or actions you are taking that are not listed. We are always looking for ideas from our sector and may contact you to find out more or invite you to speak at one of our online events.

It should take you about 30 minutes to complete the pledge form.If you have any suggestions or additions to the pledges below, we welcome your input – please contact us with your thoughts.

Pledge areas

  1. Make a commitment
  2. Energy
  3. Materials and consumption
  4. Travel and transport
  5. Engagement
  6. Events and catering
  7. Marketing and communications
  8. Collaboration and influence
  9. Positive impact

We/ I pledge to..

Each commitment can be read as starting with “We/ I pledge to…” For example, “We/ I pledge to dedicate staff time and resources to environmental action”. 
If you work alone as a freelancer, read ‘staff’, ‘team’ and ‘organisation’ to mean you! For example you might set yourself a meat-free or walk-to-work challenge, and invite colleagues to join you rather than encouraging a direct team to participate.

1. Make a commitment

  • Take environmental responsibility for your operations.
  • Write and publish an environmental action plan or policy.
  • Commit time and resources to environmental action
  • Prioritise reduction of emissions and pollutants
  • If you have a team, seek to engage everyone in environmental action at your organisation
  • Undertake an internal environmental audit across all areas of operation
  • Set targets to reduce emissions and pollutants in the shortest possible time frame
  • Embed environmental action in your strategy and planning
  • Publish an annual environmental action and impact report.
  • Establish a carbon budget for yourself / your organisation.
  • Commit to an environmental audit by an external body

Note: If you work alone, as a freelancer for example, you are your team and your organisation!

2. Energy

  • Reduce energy and water consumption.
  • Reduce your digital carbon footprint.
  • Implement small structural changes, e.g. LED lighting, draught exclusion, tap/faucet aerators.
  • Switch to a renewable energy supplier.
  • Measure and set targets to reduce energy and water use.
  • Choose a renewable-only energy supplier.
  • Make large structural changes, e.g. insulation, rain tanks, solar panels, heat pumps.
  • Divest from banking, pension and other financial services that fund fossil fuels.

3. Materials and consumption

  • Practise and promote low waste and good recycling habits
  • Reduce printing and shipping.
  • Use recycled / sustainably sourced paper.
  • Reduce the use of single-use and disposable plastic items.
  • Completely stop using single-use and disposable plastic items.
  • Switch to non-toxic products, e.g. cleaners, paints, inks.
  • Prioritise second-hand goods and devices.
  • Measure waste to landfill and set targets for waste reduction.
  • Implement a zero waste system (Rethink, reduce, reuse, repair, etc.)
  • Prioritise energy efficient and durable goods and devices.
  • Support or facilitate repair or exchange sessions, e.g. for clothes, books, electronics.
  • Support or facilitate a library of things.

4. Travel and transport

  • Attend events and meetings digitally where possible.
  • Prioritise travel by train, coach and bus.
  • Where air travel is unavoidable, fly direct and economy class as far as possible.
  • Encourage low-emission travel among staff and students
  • Implement or adopt flexible and equitable work-from-home options.
  • Support low-emission local travel for staff and students.
  • Quit short-haul or domestic flights.
  • Measure and set targets to reduce transport emissions.
  • Implement flexible and equitable work from home options.
  • Incentivise low-emission travel for staff and students
  • Reduce staff air travel by 50% or more
  • Establish international partners, alumni and other stakeholders to act as local representatives in countries around the world.
  • Explore innovative business design to reduce travel needs.

5. Engagement

  • Conduct an environmental induction for staff and/or students.
  • Engage staff/students with nature.
  • Include green activities in your social programme.
  • Include some environmental issues in lessons, lesson plans, projects and/or materials.
  • Arrange environmental staff development. 
  • Run/join environmental challenges, activities and projects.
  • Choose environmental projects for team building exercises.
  • Embed environmental issues across the curriculum.
  • Share green lesson plans and teaching materials.
  • Offer courses with an environmental focus.

Notes: If you do not work with students, answer ‘not applicable’ to the relevant questions. If you work alone, ‘staff’ means you!

6. Events and catering

  • Choose event venues that are easily accessible by public transport.
  • Serve low emission food at events I/we organise.
  • Minimise waste at events
  • Promote low emissions travel to my/our events
  • Offer remote attendance options wherever possible.
  • Provide fully plant-based catering.
  • Prioritise venues with strong environmental credentials.
  • Work with exhibitors to reduce waste and energy consumption.
  • Embed environmental topics / considerations in event content.
  • Measure event emissions, including delegate travel, and set targets for reduction.
  • Redesign events to be zero waste, including food waste.
  • Incentivise low-emission travel, e.g. via discounts or recognition.
  • Coordinate with complementing events to reduce travel.

Note: ‘events’ can range from staff celebrations and partner meetings, to training days and board meetings, large conferences and workshops.

7. Marketing communications

  • Provide promotional materials digitally where possible.
  • Prioritise thoughtful, targeted promotion over quantity or ‘spamming’.
  • Think critically about the need for materials and freebies – avoid unnecessary promotional items.
  • Promote my green actions honestly without greenwashing.
  • Design for longevity and reuse
  • Consider the afterlife of materials
  • Choose plastic-free, ethically sourced promotional items (if any)
  • Prioritise environmental materials
  • Choose commercial printers with green credentials
  • Communicate sustainable values through imagery

Note: if you are taking the Pledge as a graphic designer or marketing agency working in the language teaching sector, the above applies to both your promotion and recommendations you make to clients.

8. Collaboration and influence

  • Share your participation in the Pledge and encourage others to participate.
  • Share your environmental actions and solutions
  • Support environmental campaigns in the sector and/or in your community
  • Participate in environmental discussion and events in the sector, e.g. Green Action ELT events
  • Include environmental criteria when selecting suppliers and service providers.
  • Encourage suppliers and partners to take environmental action.
  • Include regular environmental content in internal and external communications.
  • Promote and support Green Action ELT events and projects
  • Collaborate with other sector organisations to reduce emissions.
  • Advocate for immediate climate action across the sector.
  • Call on regulators and accreditation bodies to include climate action in their criteria.
  • Refuse suppliers, sponsors and partners with poor environmental credentials.

Notes: any guidance to add?

9. Positive impact

  • Take one or more actions per year that have a positive impact on your local environment
  • Bring environmental themes and nature into your premises
  • Support local, national and international environmental campaigns.
  • Support and donate to an environmental project
  • Give staff extra leave for environmental work
  • Plant for pollinators and other wildlife in your local area
  • Donate to environmental projects on a regular basis.
  • Publish reports on your positive environmental impact
  • Generate enough energy to supply others
  • Lead local community projects and campaigns

Ready to take the pledge?