How Groundwork GN changed the way I look at sustainability

A few years ago, my knowledge about sustainability came mostly from David Attenborough documentaries and Instagram posts. While I had an awareness of the need for environmental sustainability, I didn’t really have any passion for it. 

Coming to university and learning how to be sustainable was a massive step towards finding my passion for sustainability and environmental awareness. Taking the bus rather than ordering an uber and buying my groceries consciously- as well as many other things- were sustainable habits that I was implementing into my life without even knowing.  

Then Covid hit and the world went into isolation. There was a massive reduction in CO2 emissions, leading to cleaner air and water. During this time, it seemed that sustainability took social media by a storm; my feed was full of comparison photos of lakes and rivers showing how much cleaner they had become- this was where my passion truly began to arise. Below is an image of canals in Venice, this image went viral on social media and even the news as the water became so clear you could see through it! 

Coronavirus shutdowns have unintended climate benefits: Cleaner air, clearer water

Soon after, I began my role with Groundwork Greater Nottingham, an organization that aims to create stronger, healthier communities, responsible business, and greater prospects for local people. Sustainability can be reflected in many different careers from marketing, building, maintenance, and energy. Interestingly, Groundwork Greater Nottingham is an organisation that contributes to all the aforementioned aspects. Working in this role means the way I look at sustainability has been drastically changed. From using resources in an efficient and effective manner (Green Doctor) to understanding the importance of green spaces (community lifestyle/wild spaces), I strove to embody the core values of the organization. 

My day-to-day responsibilities include content creation for social media, engaging with local communities and supporting staff across departments to deliver on various projects. These activities mean that I see firsthand how important sustainability and environmental awareness positively affect the environment. One particular moment I remember having an impact on the way I looked at environmental awareness is when I went tree planting. While I knew trees were important and helped to provide habitats and protect the ozone layer, I was truly surprised at how much of an impact planting trees in a strategic manner has on the environment and the area they are situated in. Reduction of noise, protection from ultraviolet rays and increase in employment are benefits I would not have been aware about if I hadn’t had this opportunity.

(Above is a picture taken by myself when out tree planting)

Another way my role in the organisation has helped me develop my knowledge in environmental awareness is blog writing. Researching for them has vastly expanded my knowledge. From writing about women in sustainability, to discussing the need for green spaces, I have been able to integrate sustainability as a lifestyle rather than a way of thinking. 

 Now, not only do I have the knowledge, I also have the qualification! Thanks to Groundwork Greater Nottingham I have a certificate in Understanding Environmental Sustainability. 


Aliya Hussain

Community Development Assistant.