Supporting The Environment

Rotary members are tackling environmental issues the way they always do: coming up with projects, using their connections to change policy and planning for the future.

Ravensbourne Rotary Club cleaning the River Ravensbourne

Area of Focus - Supporting The Environment

Caring for our environment is now The Rotary Foundation's 7th Area of Focus.  

The Rotary Foundation will enable our members and their community allies to take action in:

  • Protecting and restoring land, coastal, marine, and freshwater resources
  • Enhancing the capacity of communities to support natural resource management and conservation
  • Supporting sustainable agriculture, fishing, and aquaculture practices
  • Addressing the cause of climate change by reducing the emission of greenhouse gases
  • Strengthening ecosystems and communities affected by climate change
  • Supporting education initiatives that promote behavior that protects the environment
  • Advocating for sustainable consumption to build an economy that uses resources more efficiently
  • Addressing environmental justice issues and public health concerns

As of 1st July 2021, global grants will be available for environmemntal projects.

Club Environment Lead

Clubs should consider appointing a club environmental lead or champion;  someone who is interested in the environment and is willing to take this programme on board. 

Club Environmental Sustainability Policy

The environmental lead will help a club to develop an environmental sustainability policy. This will lead to setting annual club environmental goals and the development of environmental projects - working with club members and other clubs wherever possible as well as working in partnership with other community groups.

Environmental club goals along with volunteering hours spent on environmental projects should, like other club goals, be recorded in Rotary Club Central.


Clubs may consider collecting and recycling used stamps, old spectacles, mobile phones, printer cartridges, bras, and then later perhaps, bicycles, hospital equipment, wheelchairs and computers (not more than 10 years old). Many of these items have a value so your club may be able to gain some income whilst helping with recycling.

Canterbury Rotary recycling projectCanterbury Rotary Rotarians Bob Anderson and John Hill collect a few items from club members that can be useful to others rather than go into landfill - stamps, trade tools, spectacles, green plastic milk bottle tops and ring pulls being just a few (to help the local  hospice and other charities). They aren't set up to do this among the community, but they do encourage others to find out what recycling options there are in their community. One man's unwanted goods may be useful to another!

Beckenham Rotary collected over 30 unwanted laptops which were then processed and provided to local primary schools for home schooling during the 2020-2021 Covid restrictions. Uckfield Rotary Club also donated ten computers to six local primary schools.

Beckenham Rotary are also collecting empty tablet blisters and taking them to Superdrug for recycling. All Superdrug pharmacy are participating in a Teracycle scheme to turn medical blisters into cash donations to Marie Curie.

Medway Sunlight Rotary Club is working with a project group on St Mary's Island and has help from a local school to collect and recyle:

  • printer ink cartridges - providing funds for the British Heart Foundation
  • used postage stamps for Kicks Count
  • egg boxes for Gillingham Street Angels to enable to give out donations of eggs to those receiving food parcels


Upcycling is taking something that’s considered waste and repurposing it. The upcycled item often becomes more functional or beautiful than what it previously was. This creates something useful and avoids an unwanted item going to landfill.

Lots of things can be repurposed including furniture, decorations and large things like pallets or even shipping containers. Old curtains can be turned into retro cushion covers. Outdated CDs may often be seen dangling from a tree to form a bird scarer. Wooden roof beams can make very attractive mantlepieces.

Medway Sunlight Rotary Club have been upcycling by:

Upcycling - making of light bottles

  • collecting empty bottles and turning then into light bottles decorated with a Rotary badge and battery powered led lights inside to give a little bit of magic to summer gardens. They will be selling these with £5 going to charity
  • collecting can ring pulls for The Purple Community which are then used for making purses, handbags and other items
  • collecting used crisp packets which are then turned into blankets and sleeping bags for homeless people.

Together, We Will Inspire The World

Reduce Plastic Waste

Avoid single-use plastics (bags, straws, bottles, cups & lids). There are 7.7 billion single use bottles used in the UK each year (source: Kids Against Plastics). Instead of buying individually-packaged drinks, consider buying a bulk container of the beverage you want and buying a reusable water bottle.

Plastic grocery-type bags that get thrown out and end up in landfills or in other parts of the environment. These can suffocate animals. Also, it takes a while for the bags to decompose.

Use Less Paper

Most of us print something at least once a week, and then print on just one side of the paper. It might seem like a little thing, but if you devote some effort to saving paper, you could conserve a lot of paper products every year. 

Send out club minutes and club newsletters electronically. All Rotarians can elect within the Database Management System (DMS) to receive the Rotary magazine electronically.

Street/Park Litter Picks

The cost of cleaning up litter is in excess of £1 Billion per year in the U.K. and Ireland. We seem to have a culture of throwing away litter, cans, take-away packaging, sweet papers – you name it – from cars or anywhere where litter already exists.

Members of the Rotary Club of Maidstone Dawn Patrol took regular exercise whilst maintaining social distancing during the Covid-19 outbreak. Whilst out for a walk they have also been litter picking and carrying on caring for the local environment.

Rotary Club of West Wickham's litter pickMembers of the Rotary Club of West Wickham had a successful litter pick on Easter Saturday (2021) at Blakes Park, and were joined by some of the  Friends of Blakes and volunteers. This was done in keeping with Covid regulations. All the bottles and cans collected were separated and recycled. This was the first Litter Pick of many the club intends to do this year helping to improve the local environment.

Members of the Rotary Club of Kings Hill started a litter pick (May 2021) at Leybourne Church. It was a lovely morning, and the litter pickers were also very lucky that their route took them through woods with beautiful bluebells in flower.

Rotary Spring Clean

Spring is a good time to clean up as the ground cover will be at a minimum, having died back and possibly flattened by snow. Consider doing a Spring Clean during Climate Week, which is in March each year, and then register the event with Climate Week.

Beach Clean

Minster-on-Sea's Beach Clean

The Rotary Club of Minster On Sea undertook a beach clean on the International ECO day. 

The day which was also attended by the Rotary Club of Medway and Sittingbourne Invicta. The local Sea Cadets got in on the action as part of their “Ditch The Plastic Campaign.” 

Minster, Sheerness  & Queenborough seafront areas were targeted and a large green recreational area known as Barton’s Point. 

A real team effort from all involved which was about 50 to 60 people in total. The picture illustrates Rotarians and Sea Cadets added to this was partners, children, grandchildren  dogs.

River Clean-up

Cleaning the River Ravensbourne

17 intrepid Ravensbourne Rotarians and friends undertook a clean of the River Ravensbourne in South East London facilitated by Natures Gym an initiative by Nature Conservation Officers from the London Borough of Lewisham and Glendale ( a local contractor).

It was a very worthwhile event the group collected 8 black sacks of rubbish including 1 x mobile phone, 8 golf balls, 2 footballs and a tennis racket and ball, various bicycle bits, a cycle helmet, a tea pot, a curtain,  various items of clothing, DVD’s, a hat, one walking stick a pair of crutches, an 8 foot scaffolding pole, two traffic cones, mountains of plastic, 20- 30 cans and bottles and two obligatory supermarket trolleys!

Supporting Our Pollinators

Wild flower meadows are one of the rarest habitats in the UK and we have 97% of our wild flower meadows since the 1930s (according to the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew). When wild flower meadows vanish so do pollinators, as well as other insects, and animals that eat insects, such as birds, hedgehogs and bats.  

Communities and organisations are working together to return wild flower meadows to the UK landscape. Rotary clubs may wish to plant wild flowers to help our bees and other pollinators. Clubs can also adopt a beehive.

Tree Planting

Sittingbourne Invicta's Tree Planting

The challenge of one tree per member, meaning a global target of 1.2 million trees, was set by the 2017/18 Rotary International President, Ian Riseley, who believed that protecting the environment and curbing climate change is essential to Rotary’s goal of sustainable service.

This is a worldwide plan to help replenish forests and, as always, Rotary is getting involved in a hands-on way through physically putting these trees safely into the ground. Rotary is committed to helping the environment with many humanitarian projects carefully designed to work alongside nature.

The Rotary Club of Sittingbourne Invicta planted over 400 trees in Milton Creek Country Park, Sittingbourne over two days. A mixture of trees were provided by The Woodland Trust.

The club also previously planted trees in Cromer's Wood in support of Kent Wildlife Trust.

The Rotary Club of Beckenham has also planted "trees of friendship".

Free Trees

The Woodland Trust give away trees for community projects. Applications for planting in November have to be in by early September and for March by early January. Packs come in 30s, 60s, 105s or 420s. Try to involve schools and community groups in the planting. For sites contact your Local Authority Parks Department.

For free trees for schools and communities, please vist The Woodland Trust website.

Woodland Management

Coppicing Work for Kent Wildlife Trust

The Rotary Club of Sittingbourne Invicta has undertaken coppicing work in woods near Sittingbourne in support of the Kent Wildlife Trust.

Coppicing is a woodland management technique of repeatedly felling trees at the base (or stool), and allowing them to regrow, in order to provide a sustainable supply of timber. Smaller branches are then left to provide an habitat for wildlife.

Reducing Your Club's Carbon Footprint

Some Rotary clubs have become hybrid clubs; a mix of face to face meetings and online Zoom meetings. Meeting online means less travel to and from meetings so your club can lower its carbon footprint.

The Rotary Club of Wellington, Australia worked out they were responsible for producing 8 tonnes of carbon annually. They are now the first club to be certified carbon neutral.

Cars and Car Sharing

Taking public transportation, walking, or riding a bike  are better options that help the environment and your budget, as well as getting some exercise in! 

If you do need to use your car to get to a Rotary meeting consider giving a lift to another member in your club.

Petrol and diesel cars are harmful to the environment and will be phased out in the UK by 2030.  It  now makes sense to buy an all electric car or hybrid next time you change cars.

Farming & Eating Less Meat

Food production has become a serious environmental concern; from the distance in food miles, the way it is produces and the packaging it is sold in. Farming creates 10% of the UK's emissions.

Sustainable food production is key to feeding an ever-growing world population and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

One way to reduce emmisions into the environment is to reduce your meat intake. It has been calculated that 14.5% of the global carbon footprint comes from the production of meat and livestock. Another way to reduce your carbon footprint is to buy more locally sources food. Don't waste food - we throw away 6.6 million tonnes of household food waste in the UK; 70% of this could have been eaten.


The fashion industry is responsible for an alarming 10% of all of humanity's carbon emmissions. This is largely due to the rise of the "fast fashion" industry.

Today, because of the low cost and ever changing trends, consumers are buying twice as many items of clothing as they did a decade ago. As a result, more clothing is discarded and piling up in landfill sites.

Take action by buying less clothing and wear clothes we already own for longer. Alternatively, buy one second hand item for one new bought this year.

Working With Other Groups

Do what Rotary does best - try to work with schools and other local groups on environmental projects. 

If you can, try to get schools to become a Plastics Clever School using resources for the curriculum from Kids Against plastics.

Schools may also like to paricipate in the Rotary Young Environmentalist Competition.

Environmental Sustainability Advocacy

Take to social media with messages on how your club is reducing its carbon footprint, helping to reduce climate change, tackling single use platics and polution of the environment.

Join in with others around the world on social media in raising awareness for Environmental Sustainability on both Earth Day and World Environment Day.

Earth Day

Growing out of the first Earth Day in 1970, EARTHDAY.ORG is the world’s largest recruiter to the environmental movement, working with more than 75,000 partners in over 190 countries to drive positive action for our planet.  Earth Day is held on 22nd April each year.

World Environment Day

World Environment Day is celebrated on 5 June every year, and is the principal vehicle of the United Nations for encouraging awareness and action for the protection of the environment.

Help to raise awareness about environmental sustainability on World Environment Day

Environmental Speakers

Consider having a speaker at one of your club's meetings to help raise awareness of environmental issues.

Club Environmental Sustainability Policy

As a first step, every Rotary club is urged to develop their own Environmental Sustainability Poilicy.


Environtmental Sustainability Rotary Action Group

Rotary GB&I - Club Environmental Sustainability Policy

Rotary GB&I - Environmental Projects & Leaflets

Speak Up For Our Planet - Youtube talks

Rotary magazine - the fight against plastic pollution (June/July 2019)

Kids Against Plastics

Beach Guardian

Terracycle - Eliminating the idea of waste


For more information or help getting an environmental project underway please email the District Environmental Lead