Making a Collective Impact: the EcoChallenge & aNY Bag Partnership

Events · March 17, 2021

Students have successfully completed their first ever school-wide EcoChallenge organized by the Green Dragons, and the impact that they have made in two short weeks has been impressive! The EcoChallenge encouraged all students to think mindfully about their actions and track them daily from March 1 through March 15 on ISB’s EcoChallenge Platform. Our school-wide team brought together over 180 teammates to score 66,755 points, representing advocacy actions, pounds of CO2 that have been saved, plastics recycled, mindful moments, and more. 



The challenge highlighted how individual small actions can have a large collective impact and how students, as learners, advocates, and leaders, can promote sustainability, not just through recycling but also through creating healthy habits, finding joy and gratitude, supporting conservation, choosing locally-sourced food, and supporting opportunities to promote the circular economy. ISB student Max reflected, “
I would say practicing gratitude can help get to a better world because you don’t take as much for granted and you really think about the actions you take.” Students explored ways that they can have an ecological impact through ten action categories: building resilience, waste, food, health, transportation, energy, community, nature, water, and simplicity. Actions ranged from examining water usage during toothbrushing and showering, to using alternative modes of transportation, to spending more time outdoors, to conducting energy and waste audits, and the list goes on! 

Being friendly to the environment not only helps the planet, but it also helps your well-being.”  – Leanna, ISB Student

Through the EcoChallenge, Preschool students participated using weekly “sustainability bingo cards” and came together to celebrate their actions each week as a class. Lower School students discussed their actions with their teachers and classmates and their families at home. In their advisory groups, Middle School students competed against other advisory teams to see which team could complete the most actions. Among the students, there was a sense of purpose and urgency as they focused on how they could improve and strengthen their habits and choices to build a more sustainable future. ISB student James shared, “We need to save the environment for future generations.”  


During the EcoChallenge, ISB also partnered with the
aNY Bag Project, a New York City-based company that repurposes and transforms single-use plastics which would otherwise fill our waterways and landfills to create beautiful durable reusable handwoven bags. Throughout the challenge, ISB families and staff collected their single-use plastics including bubble wrap, plastic bags, dry cleaner bags, and more, supporting this local initiative and contributing to the circular economy. 

Lower School and Middle School students had the opportunity to meet with aNY Bag Project Founder Alex Dabagh for a fun and unique virtual tour, during which he shared an insider view of the entire process of weaving and bag creation from single-use plastics to the final upcycled product and all of the steps in between. He also shared the story of how he became involved in sustainability and his passion for his work.

Alex’s aNY Bag vision board

The loom for plastic and leather textiles

When speaking about sustainable actions, Alex shared, “Don’t let perfection get in the way of progress, everything we do better is a step in the right direction.” He reminded students, “Always remember to think outside of the box.” Students also had prepared insightful questions and were able to ask Alex their questions during the Q&A. 


ISB will continue to collect plastics for the aNY Bag Project through the spring, so please feel free to drop off more of your plastics during arrival or dismissal. 


The EcoChallenge gave students a deeper appreciation for the environment and a more mindful way of interacting with their world as they reflected on the actions necessary for a more sustainable future.



Students shared some of their ideas that they would be taking away as they move forward through the rest of the school year and beyond. Here are some of their actions that they are hoping to take with them beyond the challenge:

  • -Daily walk
  • -Looking at the sunrise
  • -Writing down three positive things every day
  • -Brushing teeth without running water
  • -Taking a five-minute shower
  • -Using reusable water bottles
  • -Meditation
  • -Turning off the lights
  • -Closing your computer
  • -Composting
  • -Less screen time
  • -Eating mindfully
  • -Skipping the plastic fork and straw
  • -Practicing gratitude

A huge thank you to the Green Dragons and Alex Dabagh from the aNY Bag Project for organizing these school-wide sustainability initiatives!