It’s a fascinating moment to be on our little earthship if you are interested in sustainability: the coronavirus is causing havoc but the slowdown has also reportedly reduced China’s carbon emissions by 100 million metric tons, the proposed third runway at Heathrow has been held up because of the ruling in a court case citing the UK’s climate commitments and JP Morgan economists have announced that “climate crisis is threat to human race”. Interestingly, these things are all being talked about by the ELT Footprint community, not only by the now 2,500+ members on the Facebook group, here on the blog, and the Twitter account, but the conversation has now spread to our fledgling LinkedIn group which I recently set up.
I feel so honoured, excited and fired up about forming part of the team and helping to increase the reach and impact that this amazing initiative is having. We would love to see you on LinkedIn and for you to join the conversation, please invite anybody you feel would be interested too. We also have a company page which you can follow to stay up to date with any announcements we may have.
We chose to open an account on LinkedIn as many people in the ELT world are either not present or particularly active on Facebook, or would maybe prefer to engage with people in a different space. Anything that can help get the sustainability conversation flowing and in turn positively affect behaviour has to be a good thing for everyone.
So, a little about me and I’ll start with a little confession I have to make…. I am actually writing this on a plane between Barcelona, where I live, and Birmingham – where I will be traveling on to rural south Shropshire to visit my mum. I say this because I feel guilty every time I get on a plane, but I still do it anyway. This time I feel slightly less guilty as it’s because my mum is not well and it feels important to make the quick trip over. It’s not just a ‘weekend break’ flight which has felt quite frankly overindulgent when I have done it in the past.
I have worked in ELT for over twenty years, but also in the sustainability sector for several years so, far from considering myself an expert, I do feel I have a basic understanding of the climate emergency we are facing. When ELT Footprint was created, I was excited that two of my main passions in life were coming together in an amazing way, mainly due to the Ceri, Kath, Daniel and Christopher’s hard work and vision. Seeing the community grow in size and reach has been a joy for me.
I don’t have a car, I recycle and upcycle as much as possible, I try to raise awareness of sustainability with everyone I know and work with, I bank with Triodos (an ‘ethical’ bank), I don’t have children (and if we do in the future we will almost definitely stop at 1), I buy the vast majority of my clothes second hand and I am a member of Somenergia, Sommobilitat and Somconexio (These are 3 Spanish based cooperatives: Somenergia provides renewable energy to members, Sommobilitat allows members to hire their electric cars, Somconexio is an ‘ethical’ internet and mobile phone provider). But at the same time I eat meat, I fly, I eat cheese, I buy unethical gadgets- the list goes on and on. The bottom line is that I am far from being perfect but I try to do my bit. Others might shake their head at me and surely challenge my half baked claim above about “having a basic understanding of the climate emergency we are facing”. I think that the most important thing is to do what we can and constantly build on those more sustainable choices we make.
I think that we, as ELT professionals, have an amazing opportunity to keep the sustainability debate alive and active. It’s easy to find a topic related to sustainability that is of interest and relevance to our students. My personal slant on being part of the ELT Footprint community is that I believe that as influencers, teachers, coaches, educators etc we have four huge responsibilities to future generations:
1 To have at least a minimal grasp of our current situation, to have, say, a B2 level in climate literacy if you like. From recent research it’s painfully clear that society as a whole is shockingly misinformed about the positive impact that certain behaviour changes can have compared to others. George Montbiot’s two minute call to action sums things up pretty well- a great watch if you haven’t already seen it, he certainly doesn’t beat around the bush!
2 We should try to pass that literacy on, raise awareness and maintain a healthy upbeat debate about sustainability with our students or whoever is within our networks.
3 We should at least attempt to walk the talk as it were, or at the very least acknowledge that our everyday choices have huge consequences for future generations.
4 I suspect that climate anxiety, especially among young people is going to be a serious issue over the next few years. I do believe,however, that if treated in the right way, it could be an amazing opportunity. Opportunity in the sense that those suffering the most from climate anxiety, if given the righ support, have the potential to become an enormous driving force for positive change. Imagine millions of people as committed as Greta holding friends, family, governments, organisations and local communities to account and the ripple effect it would cause! Therefore, I believe that as a teacher I have a responsibility to prepare myself to be better able to transform that anxiety into climate optimism and ultimately positive change.
I’d be interested in knowing how many other teachers feel the same as me. I would love to hear your thoughts about these four things and if there are any other things that you feel we should be doing or thinking about.
I look forward to seeing you on the LinkedIn group, for you to join the discussion there and for us to grow, learn and help each other move society towards a low carbon economy!
In 2007 after 10 years teaching TEFL in Barcelona, Jodie moved to London to co-found UK AWARE with his brother, at the time the largest and most diverse consumer trade fair in the UK for sustainable/low carbon living. He returned to teaching in Barcelona in 2010 incorporating his passion for sustainability into his day-to-day work.