Introduction to Environmental Sustainability

Environmental sustainability involves individuals, communities and countries acting to protect the natural world, so that the capability of the environment to support human life is preserved for future generations. It is becoming an increasingly important subject as people are realising the full impact that businesses and individuals can have on the environment. In this free online course you will be introduced to environmental sustainability and its importance, the sustainability of energy resources such as wind and solar power compared with oil and gas resources, the adverse impacts individuals, communities and businesses can have on the environment, how the global transport of food and goods affects the environment, how communities can become more sustainable by making simple yet effective decisions, and how globalisation in industry and business can affect the environment at both regional and national levels. This free online course will be of great interest to professionals in the areas of ecology studies, environmental organisations, education, local and national governments, business and finance who want to learn more about the importance of environmental sustainability. It will also be of great interest to all students who want to learn how they as individuals can make the right decisions to protect the environment.


To qualify for your official ALISON Diploma, Certificate or PDF you must study and complete all modules and score 80% or more in each of the course assessments. A link to purchase your Diploma certificate will then appear under the My Certificates heading of your My Account page.

Learning Outcome: 

By the end of this course the learner will be able to:

  • Describe the difference between sustainable and unsustainable materials;
  • State what is meant by an 'eco footprint' and a 'carbon footprint', and identify the ways we have an impact on the environment;
  • Explain the meaning of the terms 'excess consumption' and 'the three planet lifestyle';
  • Identify the basic resources used by life on earth (soil, air, water and sun) and state why they are important;
  • State some of the problems caused by a lack of these resource;
  • Identify different types of resources including mineral, vegetable, animal and energy;
  • Describe the difference between the agricultural, manufacturing and service sectors of the economy and give examples;
  • State the meaning of the term 'recycling' and 'compost' and list some products that can and cannot be recycled or put on the compost heap;
  • Explain the meaning of the terms 'energy efficiency' and 're-use', and state some of the benefits of these;
  • List practical examples of energy efficient measures that can be taken;
  • State some of the environmental impacts of different forms of transport;
  • Describe the meaning of the term 'food miles' and identify some common foods which are transported long distances;
  • List some of the environmental problems caused by transporting goods long distances;
  • State some of the environmental problems caused by commuting;
  • Identify sustainable methods of transport;
  • Describe what makes a sustainable community;
  • State the importance of local services;
  • Identify the importance of regional and national specialist services;         
  • Describe what 'globalization' means;
  • List the reasons for global trade;
  • State some of the problems of global trade in the developing world, for example, child labour;
  • Identify some organisations which have been set up to help developing countries.
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