Really Wild Challenge

Really Wild Challenge

The UK led the world by kicking off the industrial revolution. This also meant we led the world in eroding our natural environment.

This legacy means that today we are left with only half of our national biodiversity, making us one of the most nature poor nations in the world.

This loss of species is continuing at an alarming rate and not enough is being done to reverse the damage to our natural environment, both here and across the globe.

The good news is that we can all play a role where we live in creating a space for nature. Green spaces, big and small, are the lungs of our planet and provide safe havens for thousands of wildlife and plant species. Whether that’s a local nature reserve, parks, our gardens or even a window box in a flat, it all helps.

Those of us living in towns and cities are playing a surprisingly large role in providing a refuge for nature. Otters are returning to the rivers in Sheffield, Peregrine falcons are nesting in Birmingham University and, overseas in Singapore, the city has become one of the last refuges for the straw-headed bulbul.

As if that wasn’t enough, it’s also great for us. Regularly connecting to nature has a huge positive impact on our physical and mental health – so much so that nature has sometimes been nicknamed ‘Vitamin N’. Green spaces are working hard behind the scenes too – soaking up flood water and cooling urban areas. They are even cleaning the air – like the ‘green walls’ that Groundwork is installing around schools to protect children from pollution.

This challenge is all about appreciating these vital spaces local to us that are carved out for our wildlife and discovering ways to support biodiversity on our doorstep.

A local green space

Your Challenges: discover and help your local wildlife

Challenge 1: Snap the nature on your doorstep

Your challenge is to take a picture of amazing nature on your doorstep, either in your own garden or from a walk in your local area, parks or open spaces. This could be spring flowers, a majestic tree, animals, birds or insects.

Post your snap to Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #GroundworkEcoChallenge with details of where your snap was taken and why open spaces are important to you.

Taking photo in green space

Challenge 2: Create a ‘bee bomb’

You’ve probably read about the decline of many insect pollinators, like bees, in recent years. We rely on these helpful bugs to ensure our crops grow, so their falling numbers are a worry for us all.  We can make small changes the help them out like leaving dandelions to flower in spring, creating homes for them in bug hotels and reserving parts of our gardens as wild areas.

In this challenge you are creating one solution – ‘bee bombs’. They are packed with native wildflower seeds and scattering them on bare ground and wasteland creates handy refueling stations for our pollinators.

What Groundwork is doing

Environmental Volunteering

In 2019 alone, Groundwork unlocked 50,000 days of social action with over 23,000 hours of volunteering donated by corporate volunteers.

We work with volunteers to take action on the ground to create vibrant, healthy and sustainable green spaces where wildlife and plant species can flourish. We develop and improve spaces to benefit local communities and ensure that more people in disadvantaged communities have access to these vital spaces.

Natural Neighbourhoods

Natural Neighbourhoods is a targeted programme which helps young people into employment. The programme creates jobs and develops a long-term programme of environmental traineeships to support the improvement and protection of local parks and the greenspaces that matter to the surrounding communities.

Natural Neighbourhoods will encourage existing and new local volunteers to get involved with local projects. Working alongside landowners to enhance the quality of accessible green space in towns with high levels of deprivation; country parks in urban fringe areas; and pockets of public space in isolated rural communities.

People in green space

Water and Energy Use Challenge

Water and Energy Use Challenge

Domestic homes use over 40% of UK energy and are responsible for 25% of the country’s CO2 emissions, contributing significantly to global warming. Water use contributes around 6% of the UK’s carbon emissions.


Carbon dioxide, as well as methane, soot, and other pollutants that we release into the atmosphere act like a blanket, trapping the sun´s heat and causing the planet to warm. Current projections forecast a global temperature increase of 2ºC, which will make the world a profoundly different place. Global warming or climate change lead to more frequent and severe weather and natural disasters including storms, heat waves, floods, and droughts. Heat related deaths will increase due to rising temperatures, air pollution will worsen, sea levels will rise and wildlife extinction rates will intensify.


Despite being surrounded by water and seeing plenty of it fall from our skies parts of the UK, like London and the South East are classed as seriously water stressed. Projections show that climate change and increasing populations could see water demand begin to outstrip supply within the next 20 years. On the most recent warm bank holiday Thames Water supplied a staggering 758 million litres, equivalent to 300 Olympic swimming pools, to its customers. London is ranked as the 15th most water stressed global city. In 2019 Cape Town was literally within days of running out of drinking water, making many think water shortages are even more pressing than climate change, and the impact of water stress is one of the biggest risks to food production, economies, human health and social unrest.

Your challenges

Your challenge is broken down into two sections – one for energy and one for water. Feel free to choose one, or both!

As most of us will use fossil fuels to power, heat and maybe even cool our home we all have a carbon footprint. By undertaking simple actions we can significantly reduce our energy use, save precious resources and save money on gas and electricity bills.

The same is true of water – with some small changes to how we use water we can make a big difference to our daily consumption. Reducing hot water use has the double benefit of saving water and the energy used to heat it in the first place. Taking some of the learning from this challenge will absolutely reduce your energy and water use, make you feel good about reducing your carbon footprint and reduce your utility bills.


1. Switch off

Over the course of the week we want you to train yourself
to turn your lights off when you’re not using them. If you
switch a light off for just a few seconds, you will save more
energy than it takes for the light to start up again, regardless of the type of light. Just turning off unused lights will save you around £15 from your annual energy bill. If you falter perhaps put a £1 coin in a jar as a fine, or get down and do 5 press-ups!

2. Lightbulb audit

We’d also like you to carry out a lightbulb audit in your home and check where you still might have a halogen or incandescent bulb, thereby spotting an opportunity for an LED replacement. A full house with LED light bulbs could save you £35 off your annual electricity bill, LED bulbs are 80-90% more energy efficient than incandescent or halogen bulbs and produce the same amount of light. The savings of using LEDs, even factoring in the higher purchase price, can be significant. Ten 14W LED bulbs will cost you approximately £21.00 a year on your electricity bill. The same number of 77W halogen bulbs will cost you £115.50 a year. The best part is that a good LED bulb should last between 15,000 and 25,000 hours so is well worth the investment.

3. Draught-proofing

If you’re looking for more energy savings and have never gotten round to fixing some of those annoying draughts, then buying and fixing draught proofing is a DIY doddle. Draught-proofing around windows and doors could save you around £20 per year. You can buy draught-proofing tape from hardware stores or online, and here’s a link to watch a really good ‘how to’ draught proof film from the Energy Saving Trust (who incidentally have helped to provide most of the information on possible energy savings).

Energy Saving Trust advice

4. Energy free hour

If you’re hungry for more get the family / household to attempt the Energy Free Hour challenge! Our lives are controlled by TVs, computers, phones, gaming consoles….

Try doing an hour where all electrical devices and lights are turned off (leave the fridge, freezer or any other important electrical items that really need to stay on!). Have a conversation, reconnect or play a game and just appreciate the break. Before you set off to power things down, have a guess at how many electrical items are on standby or plugged in with power on. The average home contains 40 idle products constantly drawing power and together these devices may account for as much as 10 percent of your household energy use.

5. Check your thermostat

Turning down your thermostat down by just one degree can save you around £75 a year on your heating.


One of the big challenges with water is that, in most cases, we don’t know how much water (or associated energy) we’re using when we shower, take a bath or flush the toilet. Over the course of the week we’d like you (and your householders) to practice taking less time when you shower.

By the end of the week you’ll be all set to record your fastest shower time. But it’s not just about the time you spend in the shower, we’re going to help you measure the water flow rate so you can see exactly how much water you use each time you shower.

To measure the water flow rate of your shower

Set the shower to the flow and temperature you would usually have it at.

Hold the measuring jug under the showerhead and time it for 15 seconds.

To calculate your flow rate per minute simply multiply the amount of water collected x 4 (e.g. 1.5 litres collected x 6 = 4 Litres per minute flow rate).

Remember to put the water you collected to good use on your house plants or top up your kettle.

Once you’ve made this calculation and recorded it safely you’re ready to break out those stopwatches (most smart phones have them) and drive down that all important shower time. Once you’ve got your fastest time you’re ready to work out how much water you used in doing so. To see how much water you are using during your shower multiply the flow rate by the shower length (e.g. 6 Litres per minute x 3 minutes = 18 Litres per shower)

dog taking a shower


Every year Groundwork helps thousands of individuals and businesses conserve energy, reduce water consumption, minimise carbon footprint and lead healthier, greener lives.

We employ teams of Green Doctors who work with vulnerable residents across the UK to identify simple changes that will save money and bring wider benefits. This approach extends to the workplace as well as the home and our specialist sustainability advisers support thousands of businesses and organisations each year to reduce waste, cut energy and water bills and play a more active and responsible role in the community.

Our work ranges from helping children become energy champions in the classroom to working with community groups to plan and design renewable energy projects. Our approach empowers people to take positive, practical steps to look after the environment on their doorstep whilst also playing a part in safeguarding nature and avoiding the worst impacts of climate change for vulnerable people across the world.

Love Your Leftovers Challenge

Love Your Leftovers Challenge

Every year in the UK we throw away 4.5 million tonnes of food that could have been eaten. The impact that this food wastage has on the environment is huge.

The food that goes to landfill releases methane as it biodegrades and this gas is 34 times stronger at trapping heat than carbon dioxide.

When food is wasted, so are all of the resources that have gone into its production including land, water, transport and energy. So the real cost of our food wastage is even bigger than we realise.

Just one quarter of all our globally wasted food could feed the 795 million undernourished people around the world suffering from hunger. We can all make small changes to our daily life to help reduce our impact on the planet.


Your Challenge: Invent a Recipe!

  1. Look in your fridge and cupboards and choose some unusual combos that you think just might work. The more adventurous the better.
  2. Do you have a recipe that could use this food? If not, have a look online for recipes with your chosen foods in them e.g. bread is great for making croutons in soup, spinach can be used in a curry, bruised fruit is great for smoothies, and brown bananas are great for banana bread. 
  3. Once you’ve chosen your recipe, do your preparing, cooking or baking and share a photo of the finished dish and a creative recipe name with your team and post on Twitter or Facebook using #groundworkecochallenge.

For further information and to download a helpful food waste guide to continue your journey, visit:

Going forward, you can try to stick to these food waste pledges in your household:

  1. I pledge to check my fridge more often and freeze food before it goes off.
  2. I pledge to use the First In First Out (FIFO) method and create a shelf in my fridge or cupboard for opened food or food that is close to its use by date and use that food first.
  3. I pledge to use leftovers in recipes.
Leftover dish

Eco-challenge competition

Post a photo on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #groundworkecochallenge or email us at showing us your completed challenges.

What Groundwork is doing

Small Change Big Difference

Groundwork runs campaigns and projects in schools and communities actively promote healthy and sustainable eating, while reducing food waste and increasing food recycling.

Across London over the last 2 years, and in partnership with WRAP, we have worked with 8000 pupils in 24 schools as well as 1700 people across 100 different community groups. We run food waste workshops, training, and events to teach, inspire and empower people how to get the best out of their food and how to limit the amount of food they might be wasting. 

Cook Together Eat Together

Through our Cook Together Eat Together programme we provide residents across the West Midlands with free healthy cooking courses which centre around developing cooking skills, understanding healthy eating and building confidence in cooking meals from scratch on a budget.

Not only do our courses bring people together but they also help people to learn recipes and meal plan meaning that they are buying and using ingredients that they need to make healthy budget meals and reducing food waste.

Group from Cook Together Eat Together Course

Don’t Throw It, Regrow It Challenge

Don’t Throw It, Regrow It Challenge

Ensuring everyone in the world has access to a nutritious diet in a sustainable way is one of the greatest challenges we face.

Food accounts for over a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Our food production system lies at the heart of trying to tackle climate change, reducing water stress, pollution, restoring lands back to forests or grasslands, and protecting the world’s wildlife.

Plant illustration

Your challenges

Did you know that many of the parts of our fruits and vegetables that we throw away can actually be used again? Watching kitchen scraps turn into a new meal is really satisfying and a fun way to teach children about where their food comes from – and nothing beats the taste of something you’ve grown yourself!

Step 1: Re-grow spring onions


  1. Slice off the ends of the bulbs, leaving roots attached.
  2. Stand the bulbs root-end down in a small jar or egg cup. Add enough water to cover the roots, but leave the top edges above water.
  3. Set on a windowsill and keep the roots moist. After a few days, green shoots will emerge from the tops of the bulbs. After that, they’ll grow very quickly.
  4. Keep the roots submerged and change water at least once a week.
  5. Plant out in soil if you want to continue growing.

You don’t have to stop at spring onions!

You can also easily regrow these tasty veggies from scraps:

  • onions,
  • leeks,
  • potatoes,
  • celery,
  • fennel,
  • lettuce,
  • cabbage
  • and many more.

Step 2: Collect and sow
fruit and vegetable seeds

Many of the fruits and vegetables that we get in the supermarket or greengrocers contain the seeds we need inside them to re-grow them in our gardens or on our windowsills.

Here is a list of foods you can collect the seeds from and sow straight into compost in a container with holes at the bottom. Just make sure the seeds are buried about 1cm deep under the compost and water after planting.

  • Tomatoes
  • Chilli Peppers
  • Sweet Peppers
  • Lemons and limes
  • Pumpkins and squash
  • Dried peas
  • Dried beans

You can also regrow avocadoes by either burying the big stone in compost so it is just poking about 1cm above the top or partially submerging the stone in water, then replanting it when the roots form.

Some plants won’t fruit unless they are pollinated, so once the plants are big enough you might need to put them outside so pollinators like bees can reach them.

Plant illustration

What Groundwork is doing

Food Growing

Groundwork helps people to build community food growing gardens in their local areas, particularly in deprived communities where residents are less liekly to have access to green space or fresh food.

We train people to give them the skills to grow their own salads, vegetables and fruit, and give them a better understanding of the health benefits of having them in their diets, as well as ideas on how they can be used in food preparation.

We often use the food growing activities to arrange a community feast and for getting people from different backgrounds together to build cohesion in the community, and to share their cooking and eating experiences.

Keeping people fed during lockdown

Groundwork teams leapt into action to support vulnerable residents in our communities during lockdown.

For example in Blackpool our Grow Blackpool team hopped on their delivery bikes to take essentials and freshly grown food to shielding residents. In Leeds, the team coordinated emergency food deliveries for whole neighbourhoods and in many places our staff took to social media to keep people connected and provide tips to grow your own at home.

Eco-challenge competition

Post a photo on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #groundworkecochallenge or email us at showing us your completed challenges.

Reduce and Reuse Challenge

Reduce and Reuse Challenge

Each year we produce 300 million tons of plastic globally, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions at every stage of its lifecycle from production to refining to the way it is managed as a waste product.

Plastic takes hundreds of years to biodegrade and single-use plastic bags have been found in the world’s deepest ocean trench.

It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic in our oceans than fish.

Together, we can all make small changes to reverse the damage that plastic consumption has caused our planet.

This challenge is all about understanding your own plastic consumption, how you might be able to reduce it and discovering new creative ways to reuse plastics to add value to the environment.

Plastic bottles
Plastic bottles

Challenge 1: How much plastic do you consume at home?

The first part of the plastic challenge is to keep a plastic diary, either for yourself, or for your entire household. Try and keep the diary for a week. Once you’ve got a better idea of how much plastic you are using then please complete the Greenpeace plastics calculator which will calculate how much plastic you potentially use over the course of a year.

Greenpeace plastics calculator

If you’re out shopping see how many plastic free options you could go with, and always remember to use recycled shopping bags where possible.

Plastic coffee cup
Plastic bottles

Challenge 2: Upcycle your plastic

More than 100 million plastic bottles are used worldwide every day and every one that isn’t recycled or incinerated can take up to 450 years to biodegrade in the environment. Reusable drinking bottles are increasingly popular but there is another option – upcycle.

Upcycling is the process of transforming by-products, waste materials, useless or unwanted products into new products of better quality and environmental value.

Here are two quick ways that you can transform your waste plastic bottles but there are many more!

Your challenge is to upcycle some of your plastic waste, either by using one of the methods below or by getting creative and coming up with your own idea!

Hanging Plastic Planter:

  1. You’ll need some scissors, string and a small plastic drinks bottle.
  2. Take off the label and cut off the top of the bottle, just under half way up.
  3. Cut 8 lines down (approx. 2cm) and fold them out into 8 equal sections.
  4. Snip each section into a curved petal shape.
  5. Cut 4 pieces of string a metre long each
  6. Tie each piece of string underneath the bottle cap.
  7. Make sure the knots are spread out equally.
  8. Cross over each of the strings with its neighbour.
  9. Tie a knot at the top of the planter, around the petal (repeat 4 times on alternative petals).
  10. Pop in some soil or compost and some seeds, or some small flowers and your planter is complete.
  11. Feel free to tie more knots wherever you like, then hang it.
Plastic bottle hanging basket

Self-watering Planter

  1. You’ll need some scissors, a 2 litre plastic drinks bottle, some thick cotton, and a drill.
  2. Start with the 2 litre bottle and cut off the top third.
  3. Take off the cap and safely drill two ¼-inch holes in it.
  4. From the inside of the cap, poke the ends of a short length (ours was about 4 inches long) of ¼-inch cotton rope through each hole. The ends should be long enough that when you screw the cap back on and put the planter in place they will reach the bottom of the reservoir.
  5. Leave a loop of rope inside the cap so it will stick up an inch or two into the soil.
  6. Once you have the lengths adjusted, screw the cap back on.
  7. Add water, and slip the top of the bottle into the bottom part as you see in the photo.
  8. Fill it with potting mix and add the plant, some herbs or seeds. You can lift the top portion out when you need to add water, or cut a small hole in the side of the base so it’s even easier to refill.
Self watering planter
Tesco store Bags of Help voting point

What Groundwork is doing

Tesco Bags of Help

Groundwork work with Tesco to administer their Bags of Help local community grant scheme. In August 2017 Tesco replaced their single use carrier bags with new Bags for Life made from 94% recyclable plastic, helping to reduce bag use even further.

The money raised by the sale of these bags now funds Bags of Help which provides community grants to thousands of local projects right across the UK from projects improving community buildings and outdoor spaces to training coaches or volunteers and hosting community events.

Plastic in the Workplace

Groundwork works with businesses to run engagement activities that help employees to understand their plastic usage in the workplace and discover new ways to limit this and explore alternative options.

For example, we worked with Deutsche Bank to run a series of quizzes and challenges linked to recycling across their offices and asked employees to hand in their single use plastic bottles in exchange for a reusable bottle that they could use in the workplace. These plastic bottles were then repurposed into a cold frame and donated to a local school for outdoor learning and food growing.  

Eco-challenge competition

Post a photo on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #groundworkecochallenge or email us at showing us your completed challenges.

Home Upcycling Challenge

Home Upcycling Challenge

A massive issue in the UK is that more than half of our recyclable waste ends up in landfill or is destroyed.

22 million small items of furniture, more than 11,000 bicycles and over 28 million toys are thrown away each year, with fewer than one in 10 people attempting to repair their broken or damaged furniture.

This level of waste is placing huge demands on our countryside to create new landfill sites which contribute hugely to climate change and air pollution through greenhouse gases they release.

Waste is not only an environmental problem but also an economic loss. Many of these discarded items could be reused by low income families and people in crisis.

We can all do things to help tackle our ‘throw away’ culture. This challenge is all about looking at the items in our own homes that we deem useless or unwanted and transforming them into items we love.

Your Challenge: Upcycle at home!

Think of something at home you can upcycle rather than throw away. Start with something easy.

Decoupage is one technique that can bring old furniture to life.

Materials you’ll need:

  • Glue (PVA)
  • Brush for the glue
  • Varnish (matt or gloss depending on the finish you want) and separate brush for varnish.
  • Wrapping paper/ comics/ tissue paper/ decoupage paper
  1. Select an item of furniture which is looking like it needs new life. This could be a side table top (just the surface) or a full item. If you don’t have an item of furniture, you can practice this with a photo frame.
  2. OPTIONAL: if you want the colours to stand out, you can paint your item with a base coat of white. This is not essential, so feel free to skip to point 3.
  3. Tear your chosen paper up into small pieces (4-3 cm wide), they can be rough and different sizes and shapes.
  4. Paste a layer of glue onto the item (flat surfaces are easier to start with). Place a piece of paper onto the glue and use your brush to smooth down with another layer of glue on top. You’ll have glue underneath and on top of the paper. Be sure to smooth out any air bubbles with the brush and place the paper down in a way that avoids creases or air bubbles. Air bubbles will get fewer as you get more familiar with the technique.
  5. Layer your papers to ensure the surface is fully covered. If you’ve done Papier-mâché before, it’s a similar technique.
  6. If you’re not happy and want to start again, the great thing about this upcycling technique is you can easily pull it off and restart.
  7. Once you’re happy with you finished design, allow the item to dry and then varnish. You may want to varnish a few layers depending on what the item is (e.g tables which will hold hot drinks could do with additional layers of varnish).
Example upcycled chest of drawerws

Eco-challenge competition

Post a photo on Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #groundworkecochallenge or email us at showing us your completed challenges.

People at The Loops Groundwork project

What Groundwork is doing

The Loops Project

The ‘Loops’ are two award winning community reuse hubs in Hackney and Barnet designed to help communities recycle and reuse more household goods, which reduces fly-tipping and amount of waste sent to landfill sites.

At The Loops we collect, repair, up-cycle and sell unique, reasonably priced furniture and other household goods. Many local people have become part of the re-use movement with the Loops also providing training, employment and volunteering opportunities for residents in a range of specialist skills, including furniture restoration.

We offer free courses in upholstery, home improvement, power tools, paints and wood finishing products, decoupage, stencilling, and more.

REWORK project

REWORK is Groundwork’s refurbish and reuse project in Wandsworth, where repairable white-goods (predominantly fridges/freezers and washing machines) are fixed up by trainees who are getting back into work. It’s one of the busiest and best equipped domestic appliance repair workshops in the country. The trainees at the workshop have all been out of work for some time. We employ them as apprentices in electrical engineering and maintenance, helping them to gain the experience and the skills necessary to embark on a new career.

Last year through Groundwork’s REWORK and Loops programme we diverted 315 tonnes of household goods from landfill – equivalent to the weight of 25 double decker buses – at the same time as creating training opportunities, jobs and bringing communities together.