Set Yourself an Earth Day Challenge


With World Earth Day taking place today (Friday, April 22nd), Stephanie Meyer, a lecturer at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Wales Institute for Work-based Learning has some top tips on what you can do to have a positive impact on the environment.

“We hear an awful lot about sustainability and environmental protection these days. As scientists around the world debate the best ways to limit the impact of global climate change, businesses and governments integrate ‘sustainability’ into their operations and values, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and helpless. The planet is a large place and our own impact can feel dauntingly small. In honour of Earth Day on 22nd April, here are five meaningful (and manageable!) ways that you can make a difference.

Plant a tree

The theme of this year’s Earth Day celebrations is ‘Trees for Earth’. On a regional scale, trees play a crucial role in fixing soil, stabilising climates, absorbing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, and providing habitats to support biodiversity, but even a single tree can make a major difference. A tree planted in the right spot can reduce your heating and cooling needs by up to 30 percent, limit noise pollution, and filter more than 20 kg of carbon dioxide per year out of the air you breathe. Make sure you choose a species that is native to your area and enjoy the benefits for decades to come.

Re-usable coffee/tea cups

‘Take-away’ beverage cups are rarely able to be recycled thanks to their thin polyethylene liner, so the best option is to bring your own, but make sure you choose wisely. A poorly-designed ‘reusable’ cup – one that leaks or burns your hand – is just as likely to end up in a landfill but will take more resources to produce and longer to degrade! Think about what size your cup needs to be, and whether you would prefer one made from plastic, ceramic, or glass. Read reviews or ask a friend in order to find a cup that is well-insulated and leak-proof. It may cost you a bit more in time and money, but you’ll save resources in the long run (and many coffee shops will fill up your reusable cup at a discount).   

Pack a lunch

Producing, transporting, and storing the 7 tonnes of food UK households threw away in 2012 emitted as much greenhouse gases as 25% of the nation’s cars! Why not put some of this food in a lunch box rather than a landfill? To be successful, be realistic and think through your choices.  Do you crave variety? Do you need your meals to be portable? Make sure to invest in some airtight containers rather than packing your sandwich in aluminium foil or a plastic bag. Instead of snacking on a single-serving yoghurt pot, buy a large pot and portion it out. Bring well-insulated lunch boxes or heat-storing flasks if your workplace lacks kitchen facilities. It’s amazing how quickly you’ll be able to save money (and natural resources).

Start a sustainability challenge year with your friends, family, or colleagues

Sometimes the hardest part about engaging in any sort of behaviour change is staying on-track, and a stressful day, an illness, or a busy weekend away can derail the best intentions. Never underestimate the value of a little healthy competition! Why not challenge your workmates to see who can bring lunch for a full month? Or invite some friends around to try a new meatless recipe? Compete with your family to save water by taking shorter showers. Stick with your challenge long enough to see the money you save, or to feel to mood boost that comes from acting in accordance with your personal values, and you might be surprised to find that by the time your challenge is done, it has become second nature.”

Note to Editor

Stephanie Meyer is a lecturer at the Wales Institute for Work-based Learning at UWTSD and is currently working on GWLAD (Growing Workforces through Learning And Development) – a project that will deliver accredited work-based learning programmes to support the ongoing professional development of over 550 employees from over 100 businesses across South West Wales.

Employees will have the opportunity to improve their skills and productivity in a range of business areas and achieve higher education qualifications in Professional Practice.

Courses are available that cover topics such as Leadership, Marketing, Coaching & Mentoring, Mindfulness, HR, Project Management, Managing Teams and Sustainability.

For further information about sustainability, you can contact Stephanie by emailing