World Environment Day (5 June), described as “the people’s day” for helping the Earth, encourages people to act in ways that protect our environment rather than destroy it.
Since its beginning in 1974, the day is now a global platform celebrated by over 100 countries. Each year, the day focuses on a particular problem affecting the environment. This year’s theme is “Beat Plastic Pollution”.
In the UK, supermarkets have pledged to cut plastic pollution by reviewing their packaging and Sky has launched 'Pass On Plastic', which encourages people to avoid using single-use plastic such as straws and takeaway coffee cups.
But it’s not just the big brands that are concerned with helping the environment; even our Erasmus+ projects are busy trying to save the planet.
Tackling climate change by sharing international resources
St Columba’s Primary School in England coordinated a Key Action 2 project, 'There’s No Planet B: Stop Climate Change', by partnering with three schools from Italy, Poland and Lithuania to collaborate on topics including climate change, the greenhouse effect and global warming.
Each school has introduced their own 'Eco Warriors', which has had a positive impact on their school’s ecological footprint. In Poland, the children held a “Bee Day” focusing on the importance of bees and in Italy, the school now only uses reusable materials in its canteen. The school in Lithuania created bird houses for migrating birds and pupils in England worked with Northumbrian Water to design and create eco toothbrushes to reduce water wastage.
Natasha Metcalfe, a teacher at St Columba’s Primary, says:
Climate change affects everyone, but its effects impact us all in different ways. Our project has explored different aspects of climate change. It has equipped our pupils to adapt, prepare and modify ways of living to a changing climate.
An adult learning initiative led by Regenerus is 'Tomorrow’s Land' – a project dedicated to tackling global issues by encouraging social innovation. Alongside partners from Portugal, Denmark, Italy, Latvia and Germany, one of the global issues being addressed by the project is climate change.
So far the project has created a research paper, a learning framework and online resources as well as holding an international conference.
Ruth Livesy, a member of Regenerus, said: “The Tomorrow's Land learning experience is for people who want to do some good but don’t know what they want to do yet."
Helping the environment through energy efficiency and conservation
A project coordinated by DSC Regen Ltd enabled VET learners from the UK to travel to Spain and Italy where they gained work experience with employers that offer energy assessment work.
Through the scheme, participants took part in three-month mobility placements; working alongside colleagues in the energy sector, gaining language skills and working towards their vocational qualification. The project’s focus on environmental issues tied in with the European Union’s clean energy ambitions, with targets to reduce greenhouse gases by 40% and produce 27% of energy from renewable sources by 2030.
ARCH Network (a consortium of Scottish organisations) has partnered with 10 European countries to deliver ‘Nature Exchange Two’ (NET), an adult education staff mobility project. This project has enabled professionals to access high quality training courses in nature conservation and cultural heritage management.
Kelly-Ann Dempsey from the Scottish Wildlife Trust said: “Participation in NET gave me a broader understanding of how healthy ecosystems exist whilst supporting activities that they often compete with in Scotland, for example forestry and countryside sports.
“I want to help restore our uplands and woodlands and have seen first-hand how this can be done.”
By raising awareness, starting conversations and taking positive action, Erasmus+ projects are contributing to the positive impact that World Environment Day has by shining a spotlight on environmental issues. The coordinators and participants involved in these projects show that helping the environment is something that can be done by everyone.
You can get involved with World Environment Day by finding an event near you, registering your own event or organising a planet clean up. Start a conversation using #WorldEnvironmentDay and even join in with Arnold Schwarzenegger by taking part in the #BeatPlasticPollution video tag!