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How to make World Environment Day count

Julia Messenger Julia Messenger   05 Jun 2013 Community, Resource efficiency

Have you heard of World Environment Day? Many people will never even have heard about it. Until I joined BAM  I didn’t know it existed. So is World Environment Day just another novelty date put in the diary? Well the short answer is no. 

But truthfully it is only worthwhile if there is a targeted approach to the day with a strong message. At BAM we started planning for World Environment Day as soon as the theme was announced in February. The crucial factor for us was to make the theme of Think.Eat.Save, an anti-food waste and food loss campaign relevant to the construction industry and our employees.

The most recent report by WRAP (Waste and Resources Action Programme) reported that 7.2 million tonnes of waste food and drink is produced annually in UK households. This is enough to fill Wembley over nine times! To highlight statistics like these and to promote methods of reducing household waste, I produced a quiz which was distributed to our sites and offices. Facts like ‘cheese can be stored in the freezer’ and ‘bananas ripen other fruit’ got people talking and thinking about how to avoid food waste at home.

For the staff working on sites, we focused the quiz on construction waste. This gave the environmental department an opportunity to really promote a construction waste reduction message, as well as celebrating World Environment Day. 

 
 

We also held a competition to design a vegetable planter from materials which would otherwise have been sent off site as waste, pitching site teams against each other to produce innovative ways to re-use waste. They then had to successfully grow fruit or vegetables in the planter, linking back to the original Think.Eat.Save theme. 

The results from the competition were fantastic! We received 17 entries from all over the country, with the majority from BAM construction sites though some BAM FM buildings and offices also got involved. Sites reused all sorts of materials including waste timber, engineering blocks, reinforcement bars and traffic cones. Some truly innovative ideas were demonstrated such as using old hard hats to create hanging baskets and worn out boots to grow tomatoes!

The competition gave the sites an opportunity to work with stakeholders. Many of the entries worked with the local schools to help them design, build and grow vegetables for their planters. Others engaged with subcontractors to reuse waste. The Winterbourne Academy site team commented ‘This competition has been a real learning curve; it has increased our work bond with the subcontractors, as we have liaised with them through the whole process’. 

So World Environment Day has several benefits, and should definitely be in your ‘very important events’ calendar. It helps to raise awareness of environmental issues -in this case both food and construction waste - and brings workforce and stakeholders together. 

So why not organise an event for World Environment Day next year? I know we will!

Julia Messenger is a Sustainability Advisor at BAM.

 

 

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