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Last Updated on September 30, 2020

This is a free environmental awareness training activity, for you, as a trainer, to teach environmental awareness workshops.

Cost of This Environmental Awareness Training Activity

  • FREE to Use

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Activity Purpose

This environmental awareness training activity is designed to help the students in your training workshop to achieve 3 things:

  • Get participants working together by talking, exchanging ideas and to come up group answers to the questions.
  • This activity can be used as an icebreaker to get participants working in groups.
  • This is a great activity for anyone teaching environmental awareness and issues in the workplace just as we have used this in our Environmental Awareness training materials.

Environmental Awareness Training Activity TimeFrame

This task can be used as a 10 or 15-minute task.

As a 10-minute activity allow 5 minutes for the participants to chat and then 5 minutes for class feedback and discussion. You can easily extend this to 15 or 20 minutes and increase the group chat and class feedback and discussion times accordingly.

Starting the ‘Environmental Awareness Activity’

Part 1 – Group Discussion

Ask the students to form groups of 3 or 4 (depending on the number of students you have in the workshop).

Then ask them, in their groups, to answer the following question by making a bullet-point list of their answers on paper or on a digital device (to save using any paper).

The question is: What do you think are the top key environmental issues?’

Allow anything from five to fifteen minutes for these group discussions to take place (time dependant on the number of participants).

Part 2 – Class Feedback

Now, ask each group to nominate a spokesperson and to read out their answers to the class.

As the teacher or trainer, write these answers on a board or on flip-chart. If you feel comfortable to, write these points in groups according to the 6 groupings you see below in the image regards the ‘6 key environmental issues’.

Whilst writing the answers on the board, for the moment, do not include the headings (i.e. ‘Pollution’ or ‘Waste’).

Part 3 – Class Discussion and Your Feedback

Now, simply write the 6 key headings below above the 6 groups of environmental issues you wrote on the board or on the flip-chart.

You can now explain each of these 6 groups as the trainer and, as you explain each, allow time as required for an open class discussion.

Remember that this activity is not about attempting to teach every aspect of environmental issues in a few minutes but simply to get your students to begin to consider and think about the issues.

Use these teacher and trainer notes from our ‘Environmental Awareness in the Workplace Course’ to explain each of these 6 issues.

Resource Depletion

This happens when resources are used faster than they can be replaced and the Earth has only a limited amount of resources at any one time.

Think, for example, of trees, soil, water, gas, oil, coal and plants. It is true that plants and trees can regrow or that water can come back as rainfall.

However, if we consume these resources at a faster rate than they can be replaced, then we have a problem.

Pollution

This consists in the emission of substances that can be harmful to life (human, animal and plant life). Pollution can affect water, land or air.

For example, think of:

  • toxic chemicals that end up in rivers and seas (from factories and households such as cleaning products)
  • smog and fumes from factories, cars etc
  • plastic waste that is not biodegradable and ends up in landfills and in the sea (being ingested by animals that live in the sea and causing a lot of problems and death for these animals).

Air pollution, in the past, also caused the problem of acid rain. Fuel burnt by cars and factories produces gases, some of which react with the water drops in the rain, producing light acids (sulfuric and nitric acid). Acid rain was a big problem in the 80s but, since then, we have reduced the amount of these acids. In some places, we are still facing the effects of acid rain though.

Another example is the ozone layer. This is a thin layer of oxygen (O3) that protects the Earth from harmful radiation from the sun. Ozone reacts with chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) gases, which are produced by some of the products we use, such as some types of refrigerator coolants and hair sprays. As ozone reacts with CFCs, the ozone layer is depleted.

The ‘ozone hole’, as it is called, is an area of the stratosphere with extremely low concentrations of ozone over Antarctica and it was a big problem a few years ago. As soon we realized the impact of CFCs on the ozone, the UN countries in 1987, with the Montreal Protocol, agreed to take action to reduce the use of CFCs. This helped reduce the ozone hole and the situation has improved a lot but it still needs monitoring.

Waste

Waste includes a wide range of substances, some can be recycled and some not.

There are hazardous waste materials and those materials with chemicals that may react with other chemicals and become hazardous as they produce poisons. There are infected materials, such as materials from hospitals.

There are building materials such as rubble, bricks, stone, pipework and more.

Some materials can and should be recycled, such as plastics, tins, aluminum, steel, paper, glass, cardboard, Tetra Pak, clothing, electronic equipment, mobile phones, spectacles, tires, ink cartridges, and some building materials.

Then there is food waste that should be recycled too and turned into compost.

Waste is a problem because it is hard to get rid of. If it is incinerated, it creates toxic fumes; if it is kept in landfills (apart from the ugliness of the landfills), waste releases toxic gases that pollute the air and toxic liquids that pollute the land, the groundwater, and waterways.

It also releases greenhouse gasses such as methane (which is also flammable).

In addition, waste that is non-biodegradable stays in the environment for a very long time. For example, plastic lasts for up to 1,000 years before it decomposes.

Deforestation

Deforestation is linked with the depletion of resources. Humans need more land to grow food and more trees to produce wood and paper.

As a result, over the centuries, we have been cutting down trees at an ever-growing rate. Trees produce oxygen, which is essential for life on Earth and they also absorb carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas).

So, we have fewer and fewer trees as forests are cut down and trees are not replaced. This is causing a big problem for the environment and for life on Earth.

Cutting down trees at this rate is not sustainable in the long term.

Loss of biodiversity

As we cut down trees, pollute the environment with all sorts of chemicals and expand our settlements, many species are dying out.

The extinction of species is common in the history of planet Earth and, as some species die out, other species emerge.

However, since we have started tampering with the environment on a bigger scale, species have been getting extinct faster than ever. This results in less biodiversity.

Biodiversity is important for many reasons, including but not limited to the following.

A larger number of species results in a larger variety of crops and crops that are more resistant to diseases and biodiversity leads to healthier ecosystems that can recover more quickly from natural disasters.

Climate change

The Earth climate is naturally subject to changes. It has always changed since the Earth was born and it always will. Recently, there is evidence that the world’s climate is changing. Some of it may be natural, but there is reason to believe that some of it may be due to human activity.

Human-induced climate change is mainly due to greenhouse gases, which we produce by burning fossil fuels and by releasing a variety of chemicals.

The main greenhouse gases to the production of which humans contribute are carbon dioxide (CO2), methane, nitrous oxide and chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

These gases act like a greenhouse, by letting the heat in but not letting it escape, thus increasing the temperature of the Earth. This creates a series of chain effects that destabilize climate all over the world.

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Dr Paul Symonds

Paul is a trained researcher with a PhD in wayfinding. Paul is a co-founder of Symonds training. We focus on providing high-quality training materials packages and programs for trainers, classroom teachers and HR departments.

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