International Mother Earth Day: Why Is eLearning The Way To Go?
Interest in the environment and the impact of human activity on it is a fairly recent concept. Specifically, the International Mother Earth Day was established by the General Assembly of the United Nations only in 2009. Ever since then, the significance of preserving our planet for future generations has become all the more evident. Thankfully, online learning is an educational option that opens up the way to great advancements while also being surprisingly environmentally friendly. In this article, we will talk about 4 unsung environmental benefits of eLearning.
4 Overlooked Environmental Benefits Of eLearning
1. Reduces Transportation-Related Carbon Emissions
Commuting to work, school, or university every day is not only time-consuming, but it’s also very harmful to the environment. Think about all the gas used and carbon emissions released when you’re speeding on the highway or idling in a traffic jam. Public transportation, although it is environmentally friendlier than cars, still leaves a carbon footprint. In fact, it is estimated that over a third of all the greenhouse gasses produced in the United States are due to transportation. Online learning, on the other hand, allows learners to attend their classes without having to leave their houses. Diminishing the need for cars and public transportation helps them reduce their carbon footprint and favor the environment.
2. Reduces Energy Consumption
Any building hosting a large number of attendants—whether it is an office, a university, or a dedicated training facility—requires vast sums of energy. Illuminating, cooling, and ventilating these large spaces is incomparable to the minimal energy requirements of your own home. In addition, on-site learning requires more and more training facilities to accommodate the growing number of learners. You might argue that, nowadays, energy-efficient buildings are replacing older ones. However, we must keep in mind that constructing these buildings, no matter how “green” they are, requires wood, metal, plastic, and other raw goods. Therefore, online learning protects the environment by reducing energy consumption and the demand for construction materials.
3. Decreases Paper Waste And Saves Trees
Perhaps the most important environmental benefit when it comes to eLearning is the significant decrease in paper waste. Think back to when you were in school and remember how much paper was wasted on books, notebooks, assignments, and testing materials. Then add to all the years you were in college and the professional training and certifications you completed afterward. The numbers are simply shocking. With deforestation being such a significant factor in the global warming phenomenon, it’s crucial that we make changes that decrease paper waste. By digitizing all documents and do all assignments and assessments online, eLearning eliminates almost completely the need for paper. In addition, it reduces the energy and resources needed to recycle paper.
4. Reduces Waste In Learning Environment
Bringing together hundreds or thousands of people in a training or educational facility will surely result in tons of waste. Research shows that water is the number one resource (over)used in training facilities, whether in restrooms, kitchens, or for heating/cooling and landscaping purposes. In addition, on-site learning produces significantly more plastic waste. Learners carry plastic bottles, get take-out coffee, or bring snacks wrapped in plastic packaging. When meals are provided on-site, the topic of food waste arises, as much of the food offered returns untouched. Apart from the humanitarian aspect, wasted food ends up in landfills, where it creates methane, the most powerful greenhouse gas. Therefore, it’s evident that allowing learners to train from the comfort of their own homes can be beneficial for the planet in many ways.
As another International Mother Earth Day rolls around, we turn our minds to the importance of protecting our planet. By implementing minor changes in our everyday lives, we can reduce our environmental impact and ensure better living conditions for us and future generations. eLearning is one of those changes that can significantly affect our carbon footprint. Moving training from educational facilities to people’s homes can decrease energy consumption, overuse of natural resources, and food waste. Take this opportunity to think of ways you can incorporate online learning into your life and take a step closer to becoming a conscious citizen.