Welcome, class of 2021!

With the academic year fast approaching we are excited to welcome a new cohort of students to University of St Andrews. It could be overwhelming for some when moving to a new place and learning your way around town. This is why as a recent graduate our sustainability intern, Mariya Simeonova, is here to offer some advice about how you can foster a low-carbon way of living as soon as you arrive in St Andrews.

Hello and welcome, class of 2021! I know you must be equal parts excited and terrified about starting this new chapter of your life, and I would try to ease the load a bit by providing you with some handy and very concise information about everything sustainable in St Andrews.

Grocery Shopping and Cooking

Many of you will be in catered halls, however, in case of getting tired of take-aways on weekend nights, here are some tips for grocery shopping and food preparation.

Most grocery shops in town offer a variety of organic, and fairtrade products at affordable prices, so you are spoiled for choice. There also are many locally-owned shops offering regional and local food with minimal packaging, resulting in a lower carbon footprint. Further, Transition University of St Andrews runs a non-profit online and pop-up shop for affordable local, organic and fairtrade produce called The Tree, so make sure to check their website.

When it comes to food preparation, chopping the produce into small pieces, allows for a faster cooking process and less energy consumption. Transition also offer various Skillshare events on how to cook and prepare food staples such as bread, chocolate and hummus, which you would otherwise buy from the store with all the packaging they come in.

Travel

Moving on to the topic of commute, most University halls and buildings are within a walking distance from each other and the town centre. Yet, if you are based at DRA or Albany Park, you might be tempted every once in a while to call a taxi. Yet, there are so many cheaper and more sustainable options for you to consider.

Walking

Walking is not only a great exercise but it also stimulates creativity and mindfulness. Plus the beautiful wildlife and architecture you come across when exploring St Andrews on foot is worth the walk! If you live in DRA for example and would like to do some grocery shopping, why not take a short cut through Lade Braes and head over to Aldi, Morrison or M&S?

Cycling

Cycling is a great way to travel carbon-free, and we work hard on ever-improving the cycling infrastructure in and around St Andrews. You can purchase a bicycle at some of the bike sales organised during Freshers’ Week, and cycling lights and robust bike locks can be found at a cost-price form the University Shop – just go in and ask for them as they are not on display. And if you miss the bike sale at the beginning of the academic year, fear not! Transition runs a bike hire scheme, lending bicycles equipped with everything you might need.

Longer distance

If you would like to explore North-East Fife or even further, why not take advantage of your student discount and buy a week pass for public transport. The bus station is very central, the route network is good and you get free WiFi on board! And, in case you need to travel further afield, Leuchars railway station is just 20 minutes away by bus.

Electric vehicles

Our university has partnered with E-car to create our very own car club! If you want to explore a route,not serviced by public transport, are moving house, or need a car for any other reason, we’ve got you covered! Our car club has a fleet of ten all-electric vehicles and a network of charging stations across campus, all at your disposal for an affordable price.

How to get involved

There is such a wide variety of environmentally-themed student societies and local organisation, that we even have our very own Green Fayre at the start of Fresher’s Week. If you would like to meet our team and the rest of the ‘green’ societies and organisations, on Monday 11th September come along to the lawn, located between the University Library and the International Relations Building. There will be lots of friendly people to meet and chat with, live music, lots of freebies and maybe even some delicious food!

In conclusion…

For the purpose of brevity, this post doesn’t even begin to cover all the sustainable initiatives taking place across campus and the opportunities and amenities you have at your disposal. Hopefully I didn’t overwhelm you and will get the chance to chat about sustainability with some of you at Green Fayre!

The New Sustainability Intern

This week the Environment Team welcomed their new Sustainability Intern, Mariya Simeonova, to the team.

Mariya recently graduated from the University of St Andrews with Geography and Management (BSc JH). She is looking forward to taking over and developing the projects that Lindsey Mackay, the previous Sustainability Intern, has been working hard on over the past year. Having spent four years studying about sustainability and environmental management, Mariya is keen to apply that knowledge to her new role and contribute to the University’s sustainability agenda.

Over the next year, Mariya will be concentrating on outreach and engagement with the student community, university staff and local residents. Mariya’s main role consist in collaborating with university departments and units on sustainability initiatives such as the Environmental Facilitators Network, Fairtrade and the annual Travel Survey. Further, she will be working alongside Transition and student societies to deliver a calendar of environmentally-themed events including Green Fayre, Green Week and Fairtrade Fortnight.

She will also support the other members of the team: David Stutchfield (Sustainability Manager) and Barbara Aitken (Environment Officer) on their projects and the development of the university’s wider sustainability agenda.

You can stay up to date with what the Environment Team are working on through their Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram.

If you would like to get in contact with Mariya directly please don’t hesitate to send her an email at mps5@st-andrews.ac.uk

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Building the foundations for a greener future

This week we discuss green infrastructure and how estates and the management of buildings, both within the university setting and across the globe, has a huge potential to decrease carbon footprints within universities and businesses alike. Over the past year our blogs have been written by our current Sustainability Intern, Lindsey Mackay. We look forward to welcoming our new intern, Mariya Simeonova, who will be taking over from Lindsey and starting her new position with us in the Environment Team at the beginning of August.

Over the past month or so the university campus has been very quiet. With classes over for the summer and students gone on holidays the university may seem like it has slowed down, however behind closed staff continue to work hard as we strive to make the university a better place. The Environment Team have been hard at work compiling data together for our annual end of year reporting. Data analysed will give the university a solid idea of how much energy has been using over the past academic year and the volumes of different types of waste that the university has produced.

One of the main ways in which the university can reduce and lower its carbon footprint is through the design and management of its buildings. Since buildings currently account for 40% of global energy consumption, organisations, businesses and estates have the chance of making real, tangible change for the benefit of our environment. Our vision is to become a carbon neutral campus, not only because we aim to become a leader within environmental sustainability, but because increasing numbers of prospective students across the world are making critical decisions on which universities they are applying to based on what how committed the university is to sustainability and the environment.

Within the university we strive for sustainability by driving down energy demands, production of waste being sent to landfill, with a strong focus on societal impacts and how overall financial savings can benefit the long term future of the university. These are all areas that are currently under consideration as we look towards updating the Carbon Management Plan. Our vision for planning and strategy development is to reflect current conditions and services, facilitate employee engagement in the development of plans, and formulate realistic targets which can be met by placing appropriate facilities and resources that encourage campus wide changes and conscious movements towards sustainability. The journey to carbon neutrality can also include low cost initiatives which use small, every day, behaviour changes which can have significant impact. We encourage our staff and students to get involved in any way they can, whether that be turning down thermostats in halls of residence or turning off electrical appliances before they leave the office at the end of the day.

We were proud earlier in the year to have been awarded Cycle Friendly Campus with Distinction and we believe that this is just one way in which we are showing our commitment to positive change. The award recognises many different factors, however one of the main priorities is the provision of services and facilities, including bike shelters and training, available to staff members and students. This award has also helped to shape and direct the writing and planning of the university’s Travel Strategy which aims to guide future infrastructure and development. By targeting the needs of staff and students, using informed baselines we hope to encourage everyone to consider how they get to work and whether they could make a small change with the vision of large benefits.

If you would like to learn more about the university’s plans for updating our Carbon Management Plan and other related strategies please email environment@st-andrews.ac.uk.

Where are you going this summer?

Although the weather might be variable in Scotland we do often get a short wearing kind of day, and these should be taken advantage of. Whether you are considering what to do this summer holiday, or have already decided to spend some time at home, have a look at our recommendations of things to do in and around St Andrews, and in Scotland. Let us know if you decide to go exploring as we always love hearing from you. If you are considering how you are going to travel think about hiring out an E Car for the day. There are plenty to book out from various stations around St Andrews and are affordable and have low carbon emissions. If you want to know more, follow this link.

Close to home….

St Andrews

First of all we will begin with our own neighbourhood. Although it may be small, St Andrews boasts many interesting corners and lanes ready to be explored, making for a few fun filled days. Here are a few ideas to explore:

  • St Andrews has its own Cathedral and Castle which are well worth a visit and located very near each other. If you are a student and own a gown (and wear it) you will get in for free to the Castle (and feel like you are in Hogwarts!)
  • Craigtoun Country Park, is just 2 miles from St Andrews and is easily accessible by bus, bike or on foot. Activities within Craigtoun Country Park include a playpark, rowing on the lake, crazy golf and trampolines!
  • St Andrews has three beaches which you can enjoy, and on a warm day take a good book to read at. West Sands offers a long afternoon walk, and you can cut back along the Old Course finishing back at the 18th hole! East Sands is shorter but is just as popular. Grab an ice cream, take a walk along the pier and finish by strolling along the sea front. Last but not least is Castle Sands. Although the smallest beach in St Andrews, Castle Sands is perfect to take a picnic down to, and has a pool suitable for paddling in or for practicing your rock skimming skills.
  • Along the coast from St Andrews you can discover quiet little harbour villages with excellent food and drink opportunities waiting to be discovered. These areas are accessible by bus (or be E Car!), or on foot if you fancy taking a long walk along the scenic coastal footpath. Villages including St Monans and Crail are worth visiting, with the Cocoa Tree Café in Pittenweem, and Anstruther’s famous Fish Bar a must!

A little further afield….

Stirling

Stirling is a city rich in history with plenty to do for all ages and interests. Stirling is also surrounded by beautiful countryside, making for the perfect escape if you want some peace and quiet. The iconic Wallace Monument and Stirling Castle are well worth a visit and can be both done easily in a day. To get to Perth you could hire out on of the E Cars, or take a bus to Dundee and hop on a train to Stirling for the quickest route.

Edinburgh

Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is well worth a visit even for a day or two. You won’t be short of things to do from visiting the Castle, to exploring the beauty of the Botanic Gardens. If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the centre of city take a walk down to Stockbridge. There you will find beautiful cobbled streets waiting to be explored with many interesting coffee shops and lunch spots to be tried! We recommend travelling by train to enjoy the most scenic route to Edinburgh from St Andrews and to experience crossing the iconic Forth Rail Bridge. Trains run regularly from Leuchars and will take you straight into the heart of Edinburgh. Alternatively, you can take the X59 bus directly from St Andrews to Edinburgh.

If you fancy a weekend away……

Isle of Skye

Skye is one of the most popular destinations for locals and tourists to visit. If you go you will understand why! The islands boasts stunning scenery and is a popular destination for walkers and climbers of all experiences. The island is also popular with those who love to see wildlife and, in particular, bird watchers. Skye is home to the White Tailed Sea Eagle which attracts many people from far and wide, however you may also be able to spot dolphins, whales and red deer! Other islands are easily accessible from Skye so if you wanted to extend your trip and discover more of Scotland you could do so with ease. Most people opt to rent a car if they are travelling to Skye, however you could also choose to take the train to Glasgow and then onward to Mallaig. From Mallaig a ferry can be taken which will take you to Skye and then the adventure really begins!

Staff on the go in and around St Andrews

Between the months of March and April staff members at the University of St Andrews were invited to take part in the annual Staff Travel Survey. This year we received an outstanding 929 responses (42%), providing an in depth insight into the behaviours and views of academic and support staff from across the university. In this blog we provide a brief insight into the main findings of the survey. If you would like to know more, or if you would like tell us more about your views on travel in St Andrews, please email environment@st-andrews.ac.uk. 

For many of our staff members in the university travel makes up a large part of their day both before and after work, and as the global influence of the university extends to all corners of the globe travel for business is becoming extremely important for both academic research, and maintaining international connections.

This is accounted for in the university’s carbon footprint which provides an accurate account of the amount of carbon we are using and emitting within a variety of areas. One of these areas includes travel, and more specifically, business travel. The results of carbon footprint for the year 2015 – 2016 can be seen below with business travel making 22% of the total carbon footprint.

Every year the university conducts a Staff Travel Survey which is analysed by the Environment Team. This is aimed at helping the university understand the behaviours and attitudes of our staff and the requirements they have at work in order to efficiently plan for the future, in terms of infrastructure and services available. The main results of the 2017 survey are highlighted below.

How do our staff travel to work?

Table 1. Current mode of travel to work, 2006-2017

Since 2016 the number of staff travelling by bike to work has increased by 0.5%, and the number of staff walking to work has increased by 2%. Overall statistics are encouraging as we see staff member choosing sustainable transport options, particularly during working hours. Over 60% of staff take the opportunity to enjoy St Andrews and stretch their legs by walking between meetings within town. We view personal feedback as being integral to how we manage future projects and target resources. From the feedback received in the survey 45.6% of academic staff would consider cycling to work on a frequent basis if the cycle paths in town were improved and if the university provided more showering facilities across campus.

The second part of the survey focused primarily on the effects of the move to Eden Campus for support staff members. Overall figures indicate that commuting distance and time taken to get to work will increase. From the support staff figures 30% stated that their car usage would increase and 11.7% stated that the move would increase their bike usage. Concerns raised include, the facilities provided at Eden Campus including car parking spaces, connections to town to increase ease of business travel and the effect commutes will have on work hours.

Thank you to all who took the time to fill out the survey. We greatly appreciate your time, and your thoughts and insights.

A huge congratulations to our survey winners! Lynsey Smith, Education Liaison Office in Admissions, who won a £50 DP&L Travel Management travel voucher, Andrew Clark, Research Assistant at the School of Biology, who won £100 in Amazon vouchers generously donated and presented by Gary Overstone from Hardies Property & Construction Consultants, and Rachel Nordstrom, Photographic Collections Manager, who won the free membership and one day free booking kindly donated by E-Car Club.

If you would like to see a more in-depth and detailed analysis of the results please email environment@st-andrews.ac.uk.

The new and improved Environmental Facilitator training programme

We are delighted to announce that the new Environmental Facilitator Training is now available for all University of St Andrews staff to enrol in. Are you passionate about the environment? Would you like to drive positive change in your workplace? The Environment Team want to hear from you! Take a look at our short video we have produced to learn more!

Environmental Facilitator’s at Eden Campus

The Environmental Facilitator programme aims to equip all staff members will the knowledge and skill sets required to make critical changes within the work place and to engage with their colleagues on issues related to climate change. We aim for this programme to be a positive experience to help create innovative ideas to help the university move forward towards becoming a sustainable university, and to create the opportunity for staff members to network and meet new people from across campus. By bringing a variety of people together we aim to create a body of people who each care about the future of the environment to inspire others.

The training now comprises of 9 short videos covering areas including food, energy and recycling, all available on Moodle. With interactive quizzes to complete at the end of each video we hope that this new format will be more engaging, and allow staff members to complete the training in their own time. Once each participant has completed the module, a meeting will be arranged with representatives of CAPOD and the Environment Team to discuss any questions and to create an action plan for what each facilitator would like to achieve. Once you have completed the training you will be expected to exercise the skills and knowledge you acquired through your training in your place of work by engaging with your colleagues, promoting sustainable behaviours and finding innovative ways to make your department more sustainable! In addition, you will be invited to attend regular networking events for all our Environmental Facilitators which will provide an opportunity for updates, sharing case studies and joint problem solving.

With over 90 people having completed the training and currently enrolled in the programme we are excited about the progress this programme has seen over the years, through the number of people participating and through the initiatives our facilitators have under taken within their departments. However, we think there is more to be done and with call to action for university’s to respond to climate change and to mitigate against resulting effects we are seeking more people to act as ambassadors for the environment and to support colleagues in making changes that will not only positively effect their personal carbon footprint, but the university’s as well.

If you are interested in making a difference within the university and playing a crucial part in achieving our sustainability goals, please email environment@st-andrews.ac.uk!

Label: Environmental Fashion!

Fashion is one of the world’s largest and fastest growing industries, with its influence expanding to all areas of the world. We decided to catch up with Jo Boon, founder of Label, to tell us about her company and their latest event, Grounded, which focused on showcasing designers with the environment at the heart of what they do. We are encouraged to see our students investing their time and efforts into these areas of sustainability and we look forward to hearing from and supporting Label in the coming years. Let’s make sustainability fashionable.

Jo Boon, founder of Label.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and Label?

My name is Jo Boon and I am founder of Label, a performance arts company specialising in body positive fashion shows. I will soon be graduating with a degree in International Relations and Comparative Literature, and working as a journalist in Manchester/ London next year. The aim of Label is to create a platform for people to share their stories and showcase different ideas of beauty. I will be running Label shows across the country in the future, and it will be continuing in St Andrews next year too. Label is all about inclusivity and diversity; giving people the opportunity to both feel beauty and have their voice be heard.

Tell us about your recent event ‘Grounded’? What were your aims for the event?

Grounded was our big end of year fashion show, that took place in April in the Old Course conservatory. We showcased 18 environmental designers, with the aim of promoting slow fashion and a more ethical lifestyle. The fashion industry is huge, and a space of talent, creativity and opportunity. However, it also does a great deal of damage and is the second most polluting industry, closely behind oil. The fashion industry will not be disappearing any time soon, but we can shift the capital of that buying potential into ethical products, providing a good quality of life for those making our clothes and protecting our environment. Our aim was to raise awareness of these brands and encourage people to invest, both in their beautiful designs, and their ethical priorities.

Models showcasing designer clothing at Grounded fashion event

What is environmental fashion?

Environmental fashion is clothing made from ethical materials, this could be anything from using organic cotton through to upcycling garments so nothing is wasted. Environmental fashion is ideally well made and designed to be worn repeatedly to help prevent our throw away culture. Another factor is travel costs, ideally environmental clothing should be locally sourced so that there isn’t the environmental damage of clothes being flown across the world to you. Environmental fashion should also provide a good quality of life for those making the clothes; it should be ethical at both ends of the consumer chain.

Do you think sustainability/environmental awareness should be a fundamental part of fashion? Why?

Yes, absolutely. I think the only reason we ignore this is because it’s been made so easy for us to do so. I’d like to think most people would be appalled if they were aware of the extent of the problem. If we’re going to talk about fashion as a platform of self-expression, then we need to be expressing ourselves in a way that doesn’t destroy the planet.

Grounded fashion show at the Old Course Hotel, St Andrews

What more do you think can be done within the fashion industry in terms of sustainability and environmental awareness?

Awareness raising is a huge part of it, but ultimately there simply needs to be a reprioritisation of the issue, both from designers and consumers. It’s better to buy one pair of ethically made jeans than five pairs of unethical jeans. It often does cost more but the more we choose these products the more accessible they become. Buying patterns are hugely important, and where we place our money shows what we care about and will force big brands to listen also. If you’re within a wealth bracket that you can afford environmentally friendly products: don’t be lazy, buy them.

Do you have a favourite fashion label?

A personal favourite for clothes is Komodo, they have gorgeous designs that are all ethically made. One of my all-time favourites is TOMS though who make shoes, including vegan options and do a huge amount of charity work and awareness raising. One of the best is their ‘one for one’ project, which means for every pair of shoes you buy they give a pair to a child in need.

What’s next for Label?

Label will be continuing in St Andrews next year, and it’s very exciting to know I’ve established something long term here. We’re also expanding though and will be growing branches in both Manchester and London, thanks to friends who’ve worked on the project and new people joining the team. Body positive fashion shows will remain a huge part of what we do, but I’ll also be running more theatre pieces and arts events to keep on spreading the message of inclusivity and diversity. The magazine is very close to my heart and I look forward to developing that over the coming years. We will keep on trying to change industry standards and providing alternatives for all those interested in greater representation.

Find Label on Facebook and read Jo’s latest blog The Ethical Wardrobe. If you would like to know more, or to discuss this topic further please email environment@st-andrews.ac.uk.

Soaking Season 2017

The end of term is fast approaching, but between now and summer exams and for our fourth year and leaver students the annual tradition of soakings awaits. The final tradition of a St Andrews University student after they had completed their final exam or handed in their piece of coursework is their soaking – an event where all the students’ close friends coming to together and meet them to shower them with water. For all our students this is a very proud, special and invigorating moment and provides a great way to end their university career. This tradition is iconic to St Andrews and reflects the close and supportive community atmosphere that the university has within the student body.

This soaking season we kindly ask all our students to help protect our beautiful environment by only using water at soakings. Popular additions at soakings over the years have been glitter, dyes and foods, however we ask that students do not use these substances as it not only affects our local environment and ecosystems but also creates eyesores within St Andrews. Glitter is a very popular addition to many soakings, however it can have harmful side effects on our environment and can be fatal to small organisms if ingested. Glitter is made from non-biodegradable materials and has no recycling recovery potential, and will leave a mark on St Andrews even after you have graduated! We kindly ask you to respect the rules laid out by the University as they are not only made for your personal safety but the protection of our beloved town and its surroundings.

We wish everyone the best of luck in your exams, and have a safe and enjoyable soaking season!

 

Go Active, Go Explore; Go St Andrews

On the 24th and 25th of April Go St Andrews held its launch event and tour of St Andrews University’s campus. Go St Andrews is a new hub for sustainable transport information in and around St Andrews. This initiative is a collaboration between Fife Council, Transport Scotland, Transition University of St Andrews, BID St Andrews, and partners. The website aims to deliver clear and concise information on all the sustainable transport options in and around St Andrews, aiming to build up a community of people who choose to take modes of transport that will decrease their carbon footprint.

On the 24th April representatives from Sustrans, Cycle Solutions, Cycling UK Scotland, Chariots of Hire, Cyclepath, E-Car, Liftshare, St Andrews Park Run, Transition University of St Andrews, St Andrews Space for Cycling and Cycle Fife came to Market Street to increase awareness of the different resources available to them across the town and gown. Due to high winds we had to shut up earlier than expected, however we were pleased by the encouraging amount of people who came to ask questions and give us suggestions of what they would like to see happen in St Andrews.

As a result of the launch of Go St Andrews we hope to see an increase in the number of people who are interested in taking different forms of transport to reduce their impact on the environment and those who are aware of the huge variety of options available to them in and around St Andrews. The website covers areas including walking, running, cycling, carshare, E – Car, buses, trains and fun ideas for local day trips. If you see something missing or would like a new tab opened please get in touch with your ideas.

A huge congratulations to the team at Transition St Andrews University and everyone else involved who have been working hard over the past couple of months to launch this fantastic new website. Go check it out now at http://www.gostandrews.org/.

If you have any questions about transport in and around St Andrews please do not hesitate to contact us.

Go Active, Go Explore; Go St Andrews.

F: facebook.com/gostandrews/

T: twitter.com/gostandrews

Students on the go in St Andrews

Recently we conducted a Student Travel Survey asking our students questions about their travelling habits during term around our campus, and how they get to and from university. This annual survey seeks to understand year by year the changing travelling habits and attitudes of our students, and to identify patterns in behaviour. The survey enables vital insights to be made in order to influence how we plan and prepare our facilities for students, and how we can meet the needs of those travelling around St Andrews. The survey also aims to highlight knowledge gaps, to establish how we can better promote and offer more sustainable transport options to our students and to establish target areas to effectively reduce our university’s carbon footprint.

According to the survey 12.5% of the students who responded own a car at university and primarily view it as essential to getting home or for convenience for getting around the university including doing their weekly shop or for leisure at the weekends. From the survey it has been found that most of these students would not bring their car to university if improvements were made to local transport networks, including cheaper bus fared between Leuchars and St Andrews, and if a train station was installed in St Andrews. From the survey it is also apparent, that travel by bus is not a popular form of transport for students, however discounted tickets for students, particularly between St Andrews, Leuchars and Dundee, could encourage the majority to use these services more often.

Cycling is a hugely popular form of transport within St Andrews, especially with students. It is therefore important we gather annual information based on cycling in St Andrews so that we prepare and provide the correct infrastructure and services to support students and to encourage them to continue to cycle. From the survey it is apparent that most students would be encouraged to cycle if paths within St Andrews were improved, and their number increased. In addition, it has been identified that there is a clear need for an increased number of covered cycle racks at residences.

With these results in mind, we look towards the rest of 2017 as a year of progress and innovation as we strive for sustainability. Thank you to everyone who took part and for their time and insight.

For more important information on travel options in St Andrews please go to www.gostandrews.org a new hub for sustainable transport in St Andrews.

 

If you have any comments on sustainable transport within the University please do get in contact with us by emailing environment@st-andrews.ac.uk. We would love to hear from you.