Reading graduate, Ellie Ellwood, shares how you can get inspired by the low-carbon community success stories happening around the UK, and invites you to tell your own climate action story.
Ellie studied environmental science at the University of Reading, motivated by her love of the environment since childhood, she said:
“It’s always been second nature to me to look after the environment – I’d feel wrong not doing it.”
Since graduating, Ellie has used her degree knowledge from areas including agriculture, zoology and soil science, to pursue a career focused on sustainability and conservation. She currently works as a Projects Researcher for Carbon Copy and as Energy Efficiency Projects Officer at Oxford City Council.
Ellie said: “In my role with the Council I work on everything to do with fuel and energy efficiency. My department visits social housing and advises people on how they can reduce their bills and heat their houses more environmentally, for example with heat pumps. Everyone at the Council really cares about what they do and wants to make a difference to people’s lives.
“In my role with Carbon Copy I am on the research side, seeking out low-carbon community projects across the UK and working with people to publish their stories.”
CONNECTED finds out more about Ellie’s role with Carbon Copy to discover how we can all work towards a better future.
Big-thinking local action
Carbon Copy is a UK charity, inspiring big-thinking local action on the climate crisis. The charity aims to help people discover what’s happening in their local area, share and celebrate low-carbon success stories, and showcase brilliant examples of people working together. They believe that a cleaner, fairer future is within everyone’s reach if we know where to look.
Ellie explained: “Carbon Copy was set up following the United Nations Conference of the Parties a few years ago, which identified that people don’t know where to find local information about carbon reduction action and how they can get involved.
“To fill this gap we created a map of counties across the UK – called the Carbon Zero Explorer – which shows what local authorities are committing to in terms of carbon reduction. We also share stories of community action to increase publicity of innovative projects and inspire others to take action.”
Explore the map which is searchable by town and covers the whole of the UK.
Carbon Copy believes it can accelerate progress to zero carbon by shining a light on the communities, councils and companies already making a difference. Ellie said:
“We hope to inspire people to realise what they can do themselves and motivate them to take their own action, based on the resources available to them.
“One of my favourite projects I’ve come across in this role is the Darkwood Crew in Scotland. They started with litter-picks, then scaled up to trading tins and plastic bottles with a supermarket in return for money. With the money they raised they served over 1,000 locally prepared three-course meals for the community, helping with isolation, mental health and food poverty in the area. Next, they set up a food bank using surplus food from supermarkets that would otherwise have gone to landfill, as well as fixing fly-tipped items like washing machines and giving them back to the community.
“They do so many amazing initiatives – all of which have grown from a group of volunteers starting a litter-pick into a really big community effort. Even more inspiring is the fact that they put the needs of their community, which is in quite a deprived area, at the heart of their environmental action.”
The climate clock
From a young age Ellie knew she wanted to go into a career focussed on helping people and the environment. She tells CONNECTED how she has always felt compelled to do things to help make the world a better place. Ellie said:
“I’m not motivated by money and I promised myself I’d never work for companies that didn’t take environmental issues seriously. Corporations cause over 70% of global emissions and it is they, not the individual, who need to make real change.
“This is not to say that others should follow this approach, because it is a hard ethos to follow in a world where we have to work to survive, and where people’s wellbeing and financial security naturally need to be a priority.
“I feel it is a privilege that I am mostly able to pick and choose where I work, but I realise not everyone is able to do this. Climate is a demographic issue and we have to care for each other to care for the planet.”
While acknowledging that not everyone is in her position, to be able to pursue employment with climate-friendly companies, Ellie explains what drives her outlook.
“I don’t want the guilt of leaving the world in a worse state than when I entered it. I can’t bear the idea of leaving future generations without the resources to survive. Climate change isn’t new and the loss of people’s lives and biodiversity is happening right now. With the awful floods, storms and wildfires happening around the world we have no choice but to act.
“Humanity has the power to add time to the clock, but only if we act together with more urgency on the things that matter.
“I feel hopeful – as working at Carbon Copy I get to see the different things people are doing. Small changes add up, but we also need industry, businesses and the government to step up.
“My hope is that every person who takes part in these community projects might then take those environmental values into work with them and make a further difference there.”