I’ve been with Passion for the Planet for over a year now. Did I see myself working here a year? The short answer, to begin with, was no.

Let me explain. I didn’t apply for the job. I didn’t want a job in media and I wasn’t environmentally friendly. I wasn’t a complete eco hazard – I recycled bottles and clothing, and would walk instead of drive when possible. Although, if I’m honest this was because pre-Passion for the Planet I was a student and a lot of my ‘greener’ actions were fuelled by the knowledge it would save me money – it turns out that a good sale & buy on eBay can pay for next week’s food, that energy saving light bulbs cut electricity bills and that parking on campus costs a small fortune.

However, during my university years I also committed various environmental crimes. I drove up and down the M1 between London and Leicester, threw scrunched up scrap paper from essays in to bins rather than recycling and our diets were definitely not doing anybody any favours, including ourselves.

If a student gives you the excuse that they eat rubbish because they don’t have money for food – they’re lying. We used to buy take-aways a couple of times a week and eat burgers on the way home after nights out. These burgers were grim to say the least, being known universally among my friends as ‘rat burgers’ (the owner of the van used called us the ‘ratty girls’ as he never worked out we were referring to his business). We evened these expenses out by buying noodles that cost 5p per pack (I’m not joking, see here and sort the results in ascending order – they’ve gone up to 9p now). Apart from the fact they probably have about the same nutritional value as the newspaper you read this morning and forget the carbon footprint for a second – I still can’t get my head around how they could afford the entire manufacturing process from buying the ingredients, to cooking them, packaging and driving them to the supermarket all for just 5p.

Anyway, I know I wasn’t the only one eating like this. In fact, with regards to health, I was still slim as I would run around the park to work off the night before, and I was even relatively fit because I played a lot of sport for the badminton and hockey team. The fact that I was at the top end of the health scale compared to my peers says a lot about the benefits of exercising (or their lifestyles)!

So how did I get a job at the UK’s only environmental and health focused radio station without lying or even applying??

Well, the radio station was becoming more popular and expanding, so quickly in fact that it was keen to find some support staff. I happened to be at a friend’s house after graduating, discussing how I needed a job quickly to save up for travelling so I could go and come back before getting myself on to a graduate scheme. Her mother overheard and suggested Passion for the Planet, even though they hadn’t started advertising any positions yet. She said she wasn’t sure if it was what I was looking for (or even if I was what they were looking for) but maybe it would suit both parties for a while. So after a short interview that established I was capable of helping with admin and would fit in at the office, I got the job. As I only intended to stay for about 6 months before leaving to go travelling it was also agreed that they would continue to look for someone who would grow with the business.

As I began working at Passion for the Planet, I would also be listening to the radio at the same time as working. The interviews meant I quickly picked up hundreds of tips and lots of advice – not just on how to live a healthier lifestyle but a more environmentally friendly one too. Although I had never made any conscious effort to change my life, as I tuned in it just seemed to happen naturally.

By listening to the station I gained insights into a whole range of topics from cutting down office waste, to training falcons, where I can shop ethically and how to get into business. And my education was absolutely effortless too. Not to mention free!

Now, although I still own a car I certainly use it less. Even the smallest changes have made such a difference, from the way I eat (although I’m not a full blown vegetarian I am definitely feeling the benefits of eating less meat) to using websites like Freecycle to keep my flat tidy. The health tips have left me feeling more energetic and the inspiring good business interviews have made me reconsider my career path. Now I know there are so many more options available to me than just joining a graduate scheme! Reusing or reducing what I use has not only cut down waste but has saved me money which went towards my travels. (Passion for the Planet kindly kept the job open for me to allow me to fulfil my dream of travelling for 5 months, in the knowledge that I had a full time job to come back to.)

Passion for the Planet’s aim is to inspire and motivate people to live a healthier, greener life by giving them useful information in an entertaining way.

I’m proof that what we’re doing is making a difference!

About the Author: Helen Chapman is part of the PASSION for the PLANET team.

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