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Express English College has received some excellent news to kick off the academic year. The college has been accredited by Green Standard Schools as an environmentally friendly language learning school! We are delighted to have had our serious commitment to protecting the environment formally recognised by a global, not-for-profit organisation dedicated to preventing disastrous climate change.
Climate change has been an undeniable backdrop to the pandemic. With the recent confirmation from the World Meteorological Organization that the world’s weather-related disasters have increased five-fold since 1970 (McGrath, 2021) and the United Nation’s confirmation that human impact is unequivocally at fault (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2021), a disturbing acceleration of climate catastrophes has been globally evident throughout 2021.
Dramatic flooding swept through swathes of Germany, Belgium and other parts of Northern Europe in July, devastating unprepared urban areas (McGrath, 2021). Air pollution has been found to slash the life expectancy of billions of people by six years at minimum (Carrington, 2021). Record-breaking wildfires ravaged vast areas of land in California, Siberia, Algeria, South Africa, Greece, Turkey, Italy and France; many countries – spanning most continents – suffered deadly wildfires on a regular basis throughout the year (Pultarova, 2021; BBC News, 2021). Climate change anxiety is now a common emotion for many of us as we witness the all-too tangible effects of a shift in seasons and an alarming intensity in weather patterns. The impact of climate change on mental health is now being officially recognised by major psychiatry organisations (American Psychiatric Association, 2021).
In Manchester, EEC’s home, 2021 has seen torrential downpours last for weeks, oppressive heatwaves and too-oft overcast skies shroud the city. A report from Transport for Greater Manchester’s Low Emission Strategy makes for sobering reading. By 2040, if global carbon emissions are not drastically cut and offset, Manchester can expect intense rainstorms, increased flooding, the spread of invasive species and an increase in heat-related deaths (Cox, 2015).
EEC, as a provider of internationally-focused education, has long been committed to reducing its carbon footprint. Language education can have a more deleterious effect on the environment than other areas of education. It’s a well-known fact that total immersion in a country of the target language is a superior method of language learning (Memrise, 2020). However, as students fly around the world to study this can lead to a greater increase in carbon emissions resulting in a very negative impact on the environment. Even a short flight, such as returning to London from Berlin, emits around 0.6 tonnes of CO2e – three times the emissions saved from a year of recycling (Timperley, 2020). EEC is pleased to offer online courses for students who want this option to benefit from our excellent education provision.
Language learning also typically goes through a huge amount of paper as students work through thick grammar workbooks, dictionaries and endless print outs. The environmental impact of paper production is mammoth: 40% of the world’s commercially cut timber is used for paper; 30 million acres of forest are destroyed annually by paper deforestation and 10 litres of water is needed to produce one piece of A4 paper (The World Counts, n.d.).
EEC wants to be part of Manchester’s commitment to become zero carbon by 2038 (Manchester Climate Change Agency, 2021). We have been working hard on our environmental policy for some time. We are fully committed to ensuring the college undertakes positive actions and promotes a suitable educational ethos that contributes to global environmental sustainability. The college believes that unnecessary waste/wastage, needless use of fossil fuels and careless or uninformed attitudes to recycling, repurposing and reusing have no place in a forward-thinking educational organisation. Therefore, we foster values that help to raise awareness of environmental dangers and embed actions and procedures that contribute to a responsible use of, and care for, the earth’s resources.
Our environmental policy was a big factor in assuring accreditation from Green Standard Schools. A few of our policies that they found particularly noteworthy included our commitment to becoming totally paperless by December 2021. Through significant investment in electronic learning resources, using Dropbox to store all files and our adoption of a ‘green approach’ to preparing lessons we are successfully on track to meet this commitment. All classrooms are fully equipped to teach interactively and we ask students to recycle their course books by returning them to us at the end of their course. There really is no need to print or photocopy anymore!
Another area in which we scored top marks is in the reduction of our energy consumption. We have successfully reduced our electricity usage by a whopping 41% and our water usage by 11% since 2020. All lighting in the building has been changed to LED lights and TVs are set to auto switch off if not being used. We also use energy companies that supply 100% of their energy from renewable resources.
The little things matter when it comes to the environment. We are hot on recycling round here at EEC, and we encourage all our students and staff to use the different recycling bins in our leisure/kitchen areas. We don’t provide any needless single use plastics, such as plastic cups, instead asking our students to bring their own reusable water bottle or use the provided reusable cups. Our water is filtered, so no need to buy a bottle of mineral water! We also ensure that no toxic waste products enter the drains from the college by only using bio washing-up liquid, hand wash etc. We also try to shop locally and sustainably for all our products.
Following on from a £137m project to transform the city’s walking and cycling routes (BBC News, 2019) Manchester can boast one of the UK’s best cycling networks. EEC is proud to support this with our environmentally focused policy aimed at reducing the amount of public transport and car journeys undertaken by students and staff. We are very happy to pay 10% of the cost of a bike for anyone working or studying at the college.
We have also made a concerted effort to systematically bring environmental education into our learning syllabuses. No one can know too much about the environment, and it is imperative that everyone is as informed on environmental issues as possible in the fight against climate change. This is why we use course books with a weighting towards environmental awareness, such as National Geographic Life and Cambridge Empower books. Additionally, the majority of our extracurricular activities have minimal environmental impact in terms of public transport and energy usage. We are also pleased to support the National Trust by offering our students 10% of the price of an annual membership fee.
EEC is the first school in Manchester and only the third English language school in the UK to be accredited by Green Standard Schools, something the college is exceptionally proud of. As a member of Green Standard Schools we can be assured that our reputation as an outstanding English-language educator is being enhanced through our support for the environment.
EEC and Green Standard Schools share a mutual ethos that environmental education is paramount in the fight to minimise the harmful effects of climate change on our planet (Green Standard Schools, 2021). As a member we must honour the twelve environmental commitments set out by Green Standard Schools and will also have access to their digital platform of teaching resources. Watch this space to see how our English teachers plan to incorporate these resources into lessons! In the meantime, let’s all keep educating ourselves on – and talking about – the environment. And don’t forget to recycle!
You can learn more about Green Standard Schools here.
American Psychiatric Association. (2021) New APA Poll Reveals That Americans are Increasingly Anxious About Climate Change’s Impact on Planet, Mental Health. Available at: https://www.psychiatry.org/newsroom/news-releases/climate-poll-2020. [Accessed 2 September 2021]
BBC News. (2021) Algeria forest fires: At least 65 people killed as fires spread. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-58174918. [Accessed 1 September 2021]
BBC News. (2021) France wildfire: Thousands evacuated as blaze rages near Riviera. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-58243066 [Accessed 1 September 2021]
BBC News. (2019) Greater Manchester unveils £137m of cycle and walking projects. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-manchester-47657811. [Accessed 2 September 2021]
Carrington, D. (2021) Air pollution is slashing years off the lives of billions, report finds. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/01/air-pollution-is-slashing-years-off-the-lives-of-billions-report-finds. [Accessed 1 September 2021]
Cox, C. (2015) Nightmare climate-change vision of Manchester 2040: Flooding, invasive species and heat-related deaths. Available at: https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/climate-change-vision-2040-manchester-10250908. [Accessed 1 September 2021]
Green Standard Schools. (2021) [online] Available at: https://greenstandardschools.org/About. [Accessed 2 September 2021]
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (2021) [online] Headline Statements from the Summary for Policymakers. [online] Available at: https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/downloads/report/IPCC_AR6_WGI_Headline_Statements.pdf [Accessed 2 September 2021]
Manchester Climate Change Agency. (2021) [online] Available at: https://www.manchesterclimate.com/ [Accessed 2 September 2021]
McGrath, M. (2021) Climate change: Big increase in weather disasters over the past five decades. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-58396975. [Accessed 1 September 2021]
McGrath, M. (2021) Climate change: Europe's extreme rains made more likely by humans. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-58309900. [Accessed 1 September 2021]
Memrise. (2020) Immersion language learning: The best way to learn Spanish. Available at: https://www.memrise.com/blog/why-immersion-is-the-best-way-to-learn [Accessed 1 September 2021]
Pultarova, T. (2021) The devastating wildfires of 2021 are breaking records and satellites are tracking it all. Available at: https://www.space.com/2021-record-wildfire-season-from-space. [Accessed 1 September 2021]
The World Counts. (n.d) A useful but wasteful product… Available at: https://www.theworldcounts.com/stories/Environmental_Impact_of_Paper_Production. [Accessed 1 September 2021]
Timperley, J. (2020) Should we give up flying for the sake of the climate? Available at: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200218-climate-change-how-to-cut-your-carbon-emissions-when-flying. [Accessed 1 September 2021]
Slay My Print produce high quality wall art and picture frames for your home. They create affordable and stylish prints, from quirky typography designs to beautiful photography posters. Slay My Print care about the environment and reducing their carbon footprint is at the forefront of everything they do, including the use of FSC certified materials, recyclable packaging and donating the equivalent of one tree for every order to the TreeSisters, a UK registered reforestation charity. They also produce all of their prints in local markets meaning that your posters will be delivered using the smallest amount of carbon emissions possible!
More than just another lifestyle magazine Eco Living is delivering a real message, helping its readers to make discerning choices when it comes to purchasing homes, holidays, food and goods that will, by their nature, help nurture and ultimately save our planet. From features on preserving wildlife, organic farming, sustainable fashion, restaurants who resource food thoughtfully, holistic spas and eco housing.
Founded in 2010, RubyMoon transforms ocean waste into beautiful Gym to Swim clothing, whilst investing 100% of profits in micro loans for women entrepreneurs in 14 developing nations. So far, RubyMoon has helped over 1,200 women and their families to find a route out of poverty. The brand works in collaboration with NGOs to support a socially and environmentally conscious business model. Their products are also designed and manufactured according to circular economy and slow fashion principles, as well as being PETA-Approved Vegan and Oeko-Tex certified.
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Most eco-conscious shoppers try to avoid plastic where possible and willingly recycle the plastic that they reluctantly use. We've all watched in both horror and dismay at the scenes of aquatic life tangled in plastic waste as discarded bottles, carrier bags, straws and cups float around in the ocean. Humans have turned once pristine areas into cesspits, and a combination of greenwashing, deceit, apathy and short-term profits ensures that plastic pollution continues apace. A quick look around supermarket shelves is proof of their general indifference to the problem, from bananas wrapped in cling-film to the occasional ignoramuses bemoaning the 10p cost of a plastic bag.
The UK is one of the worst offenders in the world
There are many well-intentioned and increasingly successful eco-friendly plastic alternatives being developed and trialled, but these have yet to make a meaningful impact in tackling the problem. In the meantime, the plastic pollution problem continues to grow and micro-plastics are now found throughout the entire food chain with uncertainty around the future health implications. The UK produces more plastic waste per person than almost any other country in the world according to Greenpeace.
Single-use plastic is the problem
Clearly all plastic is a problem because of the hundreds of years it takes to break down, including the microplastics that are now in everything we eat. Everything being in the literal sense, including breast milk. However, single-use plastic is a particular problem. As Greenpeace has stated, “The problem isn’t that people aren’t recycling enough. The problem is that there is still far too much throwaway plastic being produced.” To put that in perspective, its estimated that over 90% of the plastic we use each year is single-use packaging, according to the Everyday Plastic report conducted by Dr Julie Schneider. In other words, the plastic pollution problem is overwhelmingly a single-use plastic problem.
What can be done about the problem?
There is clearly much greenwash going on. Banning plastic cotton bud sticks, plastic straws and charging 10p per carrier bag have a limited impact and are more about giving the impression that action is being taken. For example, according to Recycle Facts the UK alone uses 7.7 billion plastic bottles per year - a plastic bottle deposit return scheme would make a huge difference but has been repeatedly delayed.
Greenpeace has shown that if the UK produced half as much single-use plastic, we could end waste exports, and send less plastic into incineration and landfill. To achieve this the government would need to commit to a 50% reduction in single-use plastic by 2025 – and supermarkets and major brands must deliver it if we’re going to properly protect people and the planet from plastic pollution.
Where does the plastic end up?
It's great to see so many people recycling plastic waste but it's worth bearing in mind that most of the UK's household plastic packaging is sent abroad and in many cases to countries with very low recycling rates, where it is being dumped in rivers or burned illegally. We need to see real, effective action being taken to reduce single-use plastic to protect the planet for future generations.
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Tielka is Australia’s most awarded organic tea brand and a family-owned and run business that is committed to sustainable business practices and ethical sourcing.
This has understandably angered climate campaigners, many of whom are calling for a frequent flyers tax, whereby the first flight in a year would incur no tax so that annual family holidays are unaffected. However, a levy would then be applied to each additional flight. This would mean that those responsible for most of the aviation emissions incur most of the cost, which most people would agree is a reasonable outcome.
BambooBeautiful curate a wide range of beautiful items for your home and family, all made with Bamboo.
Bamboo is an incredibly sustainable resource, growing up to 91 cm a day without the need for irrigation or pesticides. It also stores carbon dioxide, and produces 35% more oxygen than the equivalent area of trees. It can be used in a huge variety of applications including building, tableware, beauty products, clothing and more.
Whether you’re looking for eco-essentials or an eco-conscious gift, BambooBeautiful offer a wide range of products – from luxury scarves to children’s tableware, toothbrushes and beauty products to picnic ware.
They also have unique recycled, plastic free and biodegradable packaging materials and everything for the eco office: from recycled string to glue sticks made from almonds and potato starch. Their customers include big organisations wanting to run green conferences, small pioneering green businesses, eco-conscious home users, natural wedding planners and green pubs, restaurants, cafes and hotels. They have over two thousand regular customers throughout the UK and some overseas, who all want to use their purchasing power to make a difference. You are not recycling unless you are buying recycled, CLOSE THE LOOP.
Hippie-Pants is a fair-trade yoga and meditation brand. It produces pants, kimonos and shirts in small batches in Thailand from where it ships globally to its customers. Founded in 2015, the company began by offering the yoga market a comfortable and sustainable alternative to leggings, before branching out to menswear and accessories. The brand offers a fair trade guarantee to protect its local designers and collaborates with NGOs to support a socially responsible, environmentally conscious operation. Hippie Pants products are also vegan-friendly being made only from locally sourced cotton, bamboo rayon and wood.
When searching for fair trade and eco friendly flowers, its important to recognise that many of the standard cut flowers found in shops and delivered by large companies are grown using peat and fertilisers. Digging out swathes of peat damages local habitats and increases carbon emissions. Fertilisers can harm wildlife and rivers. As if that weren't bad enough, many are grown using pesticides which harm bees, pollute waterways and result in loss of biodiversity.
Organically grown, fair trade flowers do not use artificial pesticides or fertilisers and are kinder on the environment. When ordering flowers for loved ones and special occasions why not choose natural flowers, with the colour, vibrancy and smell that nature creates herself instead of chemically-laden flowers?