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The reluctant environmentalist

Category: Public/Communities

Date: 01.03.2017

Time: 11.49

A colleague recently asked me if I thought my attitude to the environment had changed since I started working at Peterborough Environment City Trust (PECT). The question got me thinking… have my views and behaviours changed since I started working for an environmental charity?

Unlike a lot of the people who work at PECT I am not a vegetarian, I have never been on a protest rally and I am not a member of Greenpeace. I have never been overly passionate about the environment or thought much about the city in which I was born and raised. I guess like a lot of people I took these things for granted.

I was of course aware of the main environmental issues affecting the planet – my previous work for an engineering consultancy involved dealing with environmental impact assessments or how climate change impacted a design; however they never really seemed real - it was all facts, figures, research and charts.

It wasn’t until I started to work at PECT that I began to really look around me. Within my first few weeks here I was volunteering to coppice Bretton Woods. I took my father along who has lived in Peterborough all his life, and worked in Bretton for much of it. He had never been into the local woodlands and was not aware of the activities going on or how to get involved. We both had a really great morning and learnt a lot about why the woods need management and how to look after them.

Within my first few months I spent time with a number of business who were being audited as part of our Investors in the Environment green accreditation. It was great to learn what these business were doing and the positive impact they were having on the community in which they are based. I was lucky enough to go to the annual iiE Awards to witness so many of these businesses receiving recognition for their achievements.

In early summer I worked with our Education team to help run the Eco Awards, an awards ceremony to celebrate the eco success of schools all across Peterborough. I spent time with the judging panel and learnt about all the brilliant projects the children had been involved with. They had such passion and enthusiasm for the subject, with each school tacking a different environmental issue in a different way.

At the Green Festival in 2016 I persuaded my wife to volunteer. She is not an ‘eco-warrior’ and it was the first time she had used a litter picker. We both had a fabulous day, working with the PECT team and other volunteers, along with learning about what all the other environmental organisations do in the city to make Peterborough a better place to live and work in.

All of these experiences, the office debates and the involvement in projects at PECT has made me consider the environment more, along with what my family and I can do to help protect it.

I am now an avid recycler, I generally car share or use sustainable transport, I turn off my monitor when I step away from my desk and I like to encourage others to follow my example (much to the annoyance of some of my friends down the pub).

I must admit, I now find it hard to understand why anyone or a business would not at least think about their impact on the environment and what changes they can make.

Sometimes at PECT it can feel like we are working in an eco-bubble, with our composting bin and sharing table; I used to pride myself on being the ordinary man in the street when we discussed how to engage with people, being a naysayer or playing devil’s advocate, but increasingly I find myself agreeing more with the views of my colleagues and actively embracing sustainability. There is always something more we could be doing, but if we can all change a little then it adds up to a lot.

Stuart Dawks is PECT’s General Manager.

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