At ELI we are all very proud of the positive impact our business has on the community around us. The international students we attract to Ireland help to create employment and the investment they bring impacts on hundreds of other small businesses, from shops to cafes and local host families. The services we deliver have an impact on communities all over Ireland as our students love to explore every corner of our beautiful country. Despite this positivity, we have also become increasingly aware of the impact our services have on the environment around us. Since founding ELI, we have been searching for ways to invest in sustainability, to off-set our carbon footprint, but also to protect the beautiful natural Irish countryside we all enjoy.
During our search, we landed on a reforestation project called Wolfgang Reforest – and we were inspired. The goal of project is simple. Plant native Irish trees in an ancient forest to off-set the carbon we all create. Research has shown that planting trees is one of the most simple and effective ways to suck carbon out of the atmosphere. We think this is genius; not only does it help us to off-set our carbon footprint, it also helps to replant trees and re-establish an ancient forest to create an amenity we can all enjoy. We love it.
According to their science, the average Irish adult would need to plant 12 trees per year to off-set the carbon they create. This calculation estimates the amount of carbon a mature Irish tree will absorb over its lifetime and allows for trees that do not make it to maturity. In simple terms, this means that to off-set the carbon impact of every student who studies at ELI, we need to plant one tree for every four weeks of study. At ELI we welcome thousands of students per year to Ireland. From 2021 we will commit to plant one tree for every four weeks of study and in doing so we will plant over 10,000 trees per year.
As educators, we believe this project and others like it have a powerful message and we will be incorporating it into everything we do. We hope that by investing in reforestation projects, both in Ireland and overseas, we will create a legacy that our staff and students can be proud of and enjoy both inside and outside the classroom. We will host planting days and regular visits to the forests we have helped to sponsor and hope we can inspire others to follow.
Aside from planting trees we will implement other small steps aimed at reducing our impact. From 2021, we will reduce our paper waste by over 70% by focusing on digital first brochures and marketing materials, and by using digital coursebooks. Our schools will aim to be plastic free, with water bottle refill stations and recycling bins located throughout our buildings. Sustainability is important to everyone at ELI, and we hope that by making small but meaningful steps like this we will help to preserve the beautiful world around us.