The goals of the Green School are anything but small, yet they are simple: take care of the local community and teach children to be stewards of our planet and leaders of sustainability in the future.

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The baby of John and Cynthia Hardy, the Green School was inspired after the retired couple viewed the Al Gore film The Inconvenient Truth. With four children of their own, the couple decided to make a difference and, in 2006, broke ground on a new type of school — an educational campus focused on using a holistic teaching approach and a natural canvas as classrooms.

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white bus powered by biofuel

The Green School is located on 20 acres in south central Bali, where the Hardys lived and ran a jewelry store for decades. Using local architects and materials, mainly bamboo, they spent two years constructing an open-air campus, which now houses several hundred students and teachers. In fact, the local area is becoming a community with families building green homes nearby, so their children can walk to school.

students making eco-friendly soaps

Those that don’t walk board a bio-bus, fueled by oils collected at the community level and processed into biofuel locally. In addition to eliminating a reliance on fossil fuels and reducing the carbon footprint, the process of making biofuel produces glycerine as a natural by-product that is then turned into soaps to use on campus. This earth-friendly alternative to traditional palm oil-based soaps reduces the chemicals that would otherwise end up in the water system.

solar panels near a bamboo school building

Electricity to the school comes from solar panels and a water vortex system, which diverts water from the river that flows through campus and turns it into energy.

framed paper describing process of a dry, composting toilet

Waste is an issue at any school, and the designers of the Green School have taken special consideration to create a closed circuit. The composting toilets produce waste that can be amended back into the adjacent soil, feeding the bamboo that grows rampant on the campus. Local Balinese woman use wood-fired stoves instead of gas and traditional cooking techniques to minimize resource usage. Food waste from feeding over 400 people each day is either fed to the school’s pigs or added to the on-site composting pile.

large containers filled with compost materials

Speaking of food, most of the meals provided are grown on campus, giving the students a full understanding of how to plant, nurture, maintain and cook vegetables and rice. The students also help raise the pigs, cows and even the buffalo that roam the campus, enclosed only by organic, natural fencing made from branches and leaves. Mostly tapioca root, the students recognize the fencing is edible for grazing animals as well as themselves.

students eating fresh foods

The eco-friendly design continues all the way down to where the footprints go by eliminating any pavement and the petroleum-based chemicals that come with it. Instead, all pathways are paved with hand-laid volcanic rocks.

Drinking water comes from a nearby well after traveling through a reverse osmosis system to filter it. Water is used other ways on campus, too, with an aquaponics system that combines aquaculture (raising fish) with hydroponics (raising crops with little to no soil). These systems work in conjunction with each other, so the fish waste feeds the plants while the plants provide much-needed water filtration for the fish.

While the goal to be sustainable and local may seem simplistic, the objective of teaching the next generation how to work with students from 25 other countries to solve problems on campus and eventually in the world means the potential for a better future for the entire planet — and that’s no small feat.

+ Green School

Images via Green School Bali