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A picture is worth a thousand words

‘My syllabus is so full already’ or ‘I have so much to get through I don’t have time to teach a whole lesson about environmental issues’ are reasons I have often heard for teachers not feeling able to bring sustainability into their classes. I can relate to this as the organisation I work in has courses where every lesson topic is pre-arranged.

I strongly believe there are ways round this. As I have written about previously, one of them is to bring a green twist to every lesson no matter the topic.

Activities based around pictures are a fantastic way to do this. A picture can be the source of so much discussion, communication, interaction and learning. It also has the advantage of working in both high and low context environments in terms of the tech teachers have in their classroom. It can be displayed on a projector or a piece of paper, or even just a phone.

This lesson activity is an example of how a picture can bring that global issues focus to a lesson on a set topic. The idea came about through a picture created by Phubes, a Thai street artist, shared on ELT Footprint by a teacher called Clyde Fowle, and then grew into a lesson idea through a collaboration between Clyde and myself. What’s more, there are two versions of the material. One is by me for if you have 10 minutes or less. The other is by Clyde if you have more time, and I have to say, I really want to use his version!

Inspire your students to positively engage with environmental issues and sustainability on their language learning journey.

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Zero Waste Cold and Flu Medicine

How to get over the flu or a cold the eco-friendly way

Have you ever wondered if the medicines we take for a cold might not be the best thing not only for ourselves but also for the planet? Here comes YouTuber of Trash is for Tossers Lauren Singer with a solution!

This lesson is ideal now as it’s chilly outside. For adults and teens A2 upwards.


You will watch a ‘how to’ video by YouTuber Lauren Singer from, learn vocabulary such as ‘ingredients’, ‘stir’, ‘add some garlic’ and find out how to make a cold or flu remedy that is great for the planet and great for you!

Before you watch

Think about the following:
When did you last have a cold or the flu?
What medicine did you take?
Lauren will talk about a home-made remedy. What do you think will be in the medicine she makes?

While you watch

Watch the video to see if you guessed correctly the ingredients she will use.

Check your understanding

Are the following true or false?
1. She has a cold at the moment?
2. She adds an alcoholic drink to the remedy
3. The remedy she makes is not very strong.

adults climate change reduce, reuse, recycle: cutting down waste shopping and consuming solutions waste

Why your old phones collect in a junk draw of sadness (level B2+)


You will practice understanding advanced texts, vocabulary on the topic of climate change and increase understanding of an important issue.


What do you think the ‘sadness’ in the title refers to?

  1. the waste from throwing away old mobile phones
  2. the memories associated with your old mobile phone
  3. the environmental damage caused by mobile phones in their production, use and disposal

Guess which one, and watch the video to check if you are right. (Answers at bottom of page)

Check your understanding

Are the following true or false? How do you know?

  1. The presenter likes nature and and he likes technology.
  2. Most of the environmental damage caused by phones is caused when we throw them away.
  3. There is a company called Fairphone that makes phones that are easy to repair.
  4. The battery is the most toxic part of a phone.
  5. Liam the robot can take apart an iPhone 6 in 1 minute.
  6. New technology could reduce the environmental impact of phones.

(Answers at bottom of page)