Environmental sustainability, policy and action

Establish a statement or policy on environmental performance including specific goals and indicators. Volunteers on a workcamp can set personal standards, make respectful enquiries about why environmental issues are not addressed and offer viable suggestions for improving the sustainability of their project.

Promote environmental inquiry, action and collaboration. Group discussion of environment and sustainability at every workcamp allows sharing of knowledge, debate, understanding and compromise. Where possible the host organisation and/or community should participate to aid understanding of local issues and knowledge. Change is hard, so participants may only adopt environmental practices when they are comfortable with the idea and the activity.

Environmental management requires active feedback: Monitor the environmental performance of participants, camp activities and local community. Adjust responses to match changing situations and understanding. Reassess regularly.

Tips for good environmental practices

The following are some options for a project, workcamp, at the office and at home:

Create a climate of energy-awareness.
Purchase energy efficient equipment
Share facilities and appliances (e.g. fridge, car)
Reduce unnecessary heating and lighting
Use natural light and energy efficient light bulbs
Don’t buy products in excessive packaging, or single-use, disposable items (eg disposable plates, cups, cutlery) where alternatives exist.
Buy recycled paper (then print on both sides)
Buy recycled or reusable products (e.g. rechargeable batteries)
Buy biodegradable cleaning products. (eg bicarb. soda or vinegar)
Use water based and/or non-toxic paints
Set up recycle sorting system with clearly marked bins, e.g. paper, glass, plastic, aluminium/tin cans. .
Properly dispose of, recycle and resell your office equipment including furniture, computer, etc.
Walk, cycle or use public transport wherever possible



Ethical banking and investments

Individuals and organisations can change accounts and investments to banks and building societies considered to be ethically sound. There is no single definition of an “ethical” bank, but factors may include:

– not investing in governments or businesses which fail to uphold basic human rights or have links to oppressive regimes
– not investing in the arms or oil trade;
– actively financing companies, institutions and projects that add social, environmental and cultural value in their work;
– promoting equitable partnership in developing countries.
– supporting local environmentally sustainable initiatives


Fair-trade products ensure higher prices for farm produce in less economically developed countries. The resulting financial security permits local farmers to provide reasonable wages and conditions to workers. Indigenous cultures, local industries and environmentally sound agricultural techniques are less compromised by these fairer trading deals. Fair trade suppliers sometimes invest in infrastructure and education in the communities where they buy their raw products.