3 Simple Tips for a Happy Hallogreen!

 

hallogreen2Excuse the awful pun…

With Halloween just a few short days away, The Environment Team have come up with a few simple tips to help you become sustainably spooky…

1. Costumes – vintage, reused, DIY – oh my!

Instead of buying expensive pre-made costumes, see what you can put together from items you already own. If you are missing something from your outfit, borrow items from friends, or have a look in charity shops. We’ve listed some of our favourite DIY costumes below for inspiration…

lumberjackLumberjack

Throw on a checked shirt, jeans, hiking boots, and hat then draw on a beard (mascara works well) – simple!

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comicmakeupComic Book Character

Requires a bit of effort put into the makeup, but the result is very effective – check out YouTube for tutorials. Bright yellow hair optional.

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Teenage-Mutant-Ninja-TurtlesTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Dig out your green clothes, tie some coloured ribbon or strips of coloured fabric round your head, then make a shell by painting a disposable baking tray green. Kowabunga.

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mimeMime

Give your voice a rest and express yourself through actions…complete the look with some black trousers, a stripy top, and some face paint.

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rosie-the-riveter_0Rosie the Riveter

Put your hair up and tie a red ribbon or strip of material (try charity shops if you don’t have any) round your head for an iconic, yet incredibly easy costume.

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2. Decorations – a new lease of life for your rubbish

Planning a Halloween party? Don’t waste money buying decorations – get creative and make your own by upcycling some of your household waste!

eggcartonbatEgg cartons

Get out your scissors and some black paint to transform an egg carton into a cute bat decoration.

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milk_jug_skeletonPlastic milk bottles

Make this dapper skeleton out of empty plastic milk bottles.

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jamjarghostGlass jars

Transform your glass jars into ghostly lanterns with the help of some muslin cloth.

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loorollbatsLoo rolls

These bat ornaments are really easy to make by upcycling some loo rolls.

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3. Pumpkins – use every last bit

pumpkinsIf you’re carving a pumpkin this year, try and buy one that is locally grown and organic. When carving it, don’t forget to save the seeds and flesh – roast off the seeds with a little oil and salt, and use the flesh to make pumpkin bread, pies, muffins, soups, and more! Check out BBC Good Food for recipes, and remember to dispose of your pumpkin after Halloween by putting it in your food waste bin.

Happy Halloween!

Images: Lumberjack, Comic Book Character, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Mime, Rosie the Riveter, Egg carton bat, Milk bottle skeleton, Glass jar lanterns, Loo roll bats, Pumpkins

St Andrews Citizen: “Green Light for Energy Centre”

guardbridge.

The University of St Andrews’ drive to become a carbon neutral institution came a step closer this week when plans for a biomass development at Guardbridge were approved by Fife Council.

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The £25 million investment will see power generated through clean biomass at Guardbridge and hot water pumped for four miles underground to St Andrews to heat and cool its labs and residences at North Haugh and Fife Park.

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The biomass plant will sit alongside the university’s planned six-turbine wind farm at Kenly, east of St Andrews, supporting a strategic drive by St Andrews to become the United Kingdom’s first carbon-neutral university and saving around 500,000 tonnes of carbon in the next 20 years alone.

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In a quick decision on Wednesday, members of Fife Council’s north east planning committee approved the university’s planning applications to develop the former paper mill for both university and business uses, creating the Sustainable Power and Research Campus, and all the ancillary work connected with piping hot water to St Andrews and returning the used, cold water to the biomass plant.

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The three-part plan for the paper mill includes the energy centre with a log store and wood chipping area; a second zone for industry, research and testing; and thirdly, industrial, office and storage facilities.

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The green energy produced on site and at Kenly will help the university protect jobs and ward off the effects of rapidly rising external energy prices. Although St Andrews has managed to cut its power consumption in recent years, energy prices have been continually hiked by the big power companies, representing a major threat to investment in front line teaching and research.

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In addition to the energy centre, the university’s plans for Guardbridge include a Knowledge Exchange Hub to provide “missing link” facilities which would allow research and discoveries made in university labs to be translated to working prototypes.

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The centre will also offer affordable accommodation to local companies, with the aim of attracting businesses and skills linked to the renewables sector.

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Councillors did express concerns about where the material for the biomass plant would be sourced. The university has said the facility will use only virgin roundwood, locally sourced from sustainable forests within 50 miles of the plant and councillors wanted to be sure that meant the wood was locally grown, not imported from overseas by local merchants.

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Councillor Bryan Poole described the plan as “a good news story and a very ambitious project for the university”.

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A spokesperson for the University of St Andrews said: “We are delighted that planning permission has been granted and that this exciting project has passed another significant milestone.

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“Guardbridge offers a tremendous opportunity to establish not just a green energy centre, but a wider campus for innovation, research and development. We look forward to working with our local community and neighbours to bring significant benefits to the village of Guardbridge itself, the university, Fife and Scotland.”

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The £25 million cost of the scheme is backed by a £10 million grant from the Scottish Funding Council which is supporting carbon reduction schemes across Scottish Higher Education.

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Story first published in the St Andrews Citizen.

Raisin Monday: Behind the Scenes

IMG_6798Every autumn, hundreds of first year students get dressed up in a variety of creative costumes by their academic mums, collect a receipt from their academic dads, then participate in a massive shaving foam fight that is broadcast across the world’s press in celebration of the St Andrews tradition that is Raisin Weekend.

In order to make this event run smoothly, a lot of University staff are involved – from the Students’ Association, to Student Services, the Janitors, Grounds staff, and the Environment Team, as well as assistance from Police Scotland. So what does Raisin Monday look like from behind the scenes…?

The morning starts off with a tour of the waste collection locations and Lower College Lawn (the home of this year’s foam fight), before heading into Lower College Hall for a hot cup of coffee and a bacon roll!

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DSC_0450The calm before the (foam) storm…

The janitors and grounds staff receive their briefing, then head out to finish setting up the barriers and man their stations!

DSC_0396John Jardine, Head Janitor, delivers the briefing.

DSC_0444The Grounds staff, ready to recycle!

The Police help control the crowds on North Street, managing the traffic and directing those headed to the foam fight through crowd barriers where they will meet the Environment Team!

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Two large skips are set up behind College Gate, along with glass and food waste bins to help separate the waste from everyone’s raisin receipts.

skipLynsey Smith, Sustainability Officer, ready to collect receipts!

This separation process has led to 2014 being the first ZERO WASTE Raisin Monday, meaning that every receipt collected was able to be recycled! All the waste was collected by the Binn Group and taken to a recycling facility just 30 miles west of St Andrews in Glenfarg. The collected food waste was anaerobically digested, which turns the waste into biogas and biofertiliser, which will be used to produce heat and electricity, and fertilise the fields of Fife! The recovered plastic, cardboard, and wood waste from the receipts was then separated and sent on to be given a new life as (among other things) plastic bottles, fleeces, newspapers, tissue paper, MDF, animal bedding, and biomass fuel.

Not only is this year the first time no waste has been sent to landfill, but it’s also the least waste we’ve ever collected – the receipts weighed under a tonne, when in previous years the receipts have weighed between 3-4 tonnes!

IMG_6802The skip isn’t even half-full!

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It’s always great fun to see the creative costumes and receipts the academic parents come up with…

DSC_0620…the Raisin Express

DSC_0631…a Tunnock’s Teacake

DSC_0744…raisins

DSC_0867…and Buzz Lightyear!

More photos of the costumes can be found in our Raisin Monday Facebook album.

After all the hard work collecting and sorting receipts, we head through to watch the end of the foam fight from the press area, where the world’s media were snapping away, capturing the foamy fun.

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DSC_1031Even the Sabbs aren’t safe from attack…Students’ Association President, Pat Mathewson, gets foamed!

Once people have had enough foam, they exit onto the Scores after a quick hosing down. The Grounds staff then move out to begin the clean up and restore Lower College Lawn to its former (unfoamy!) state.

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We hope you all enjoyed Raisin Monday this year, even with the change in location. In fact, I think a lot of people preferred holding it on the lawn as it allows academic parents access to view the fight from a safe distance to take photographs!

Thanks again for following the Green Raisin Guidelines, and doing your bit to help make this Raisin Monday the greenest one yet…and if you haven’t entered our Green Raisin Competition then send your photos to environment@st-andrews.ac.uk before Monday 27th to be in with a chance of winning a meal for the whole family! Good luck!

(a huge thank you to Amanda Cook for all the photographs!)

Carrier Bag Charge (Scotland) – What’s It All About?

ErnieElephantHave you spotted posters like this one popping up in shops? The adorable elephant is named Ernie, and he’s helping spread the word about the single use carrier bag charge coming into force in Scotland from 20th October.

This means that no matter whether you’re shopping for groceries, clothes, books, toiletries, or any other item, if you want a bag to put them in you will be charged 5p.

Why are we being charged?

scotland bags

Scotland uses 750,000,000 carrier bags every year – more per person than anywhere else in the UK. This legislation has been introduced in Scotland in an attempt to:

– reduce litter
– protect wildlife
– save the natural resources that are used to make/distribute bags
– encourage people to reuse their bags
– help tackle climate change

The legislation has already been introduced in Wales, and after just one year of the law being in place, the use of new plastic bags decreased by 75%.

Where does the 5p go?

The proceeds from the 5p charge will go to environmental charities and other environmental initiatives.

Exemptions from the charge

exempt bags

There are some exceptions to the 5p charge. Bags that will not incur a charge include:

 – very small paper and plastic bags used for e.g. loose fruit, greetings cards, pick n mix sweets
– bags for carrying uncooked meat, poultry, or fish
– bags for unpackaged exempted items e.g. unpackaged food or drink for human or animal consumption, prescription medicines, unpackaged knives or blades, or items that could be contaminated by soil
– specialist bags e.g. courier bags, or bags for carrying live fish
– bags used to carry items purchased on board vehicles, or in duty free

How to avoid the 5p charge

totebags2

It’s simple – take a re-usable bag with you every time you shop!

You can reuse bags you have previously been charged 5p for, although they may wear out after some time. Supermarket “Bags for Life” last a bit longer, and most supermarkets replace them free of charge when worn out.

Cotton tote bags are more expensive than plastic “Bags for Life”, but will last longer and are more convenient to carry around than jute or woven bags. We’d recommend you go for Fairtrade cotton if available, or bags made from organic cotton. There are loads of cool designs to choose from, they fold up small enough to pop in your bag or pocket, and will help you avoid that 5p charge.

For more information on the carrier bag charges, check out Carrier Bag Charge Scotland’s FAQs.

How To Have An (Environmentally!) Responsible Raisin

Raisin Weekend is one of the many weird and wonderful traditions that makes St Andrews such a unique and special place to study – not only that, but it’s also loads of fun!

In celebration of the event, and in light of the fact that all Raisin receipts require disposal after they are no longer needed, we’ve developed the following guidelines for constructing environmentally friendly and safe Raisin receipts and costumes to keep Raisin a truly sustainable tradition.

As a thank you for following these guidelines we will be giving away a meal for the entire family at the Doll’s House Restaurant for the most environmentally friendly and creative Raisin receipt and costume. Join the Facebook event here!
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How do I enter the competition?

Post a picture of your academic family with your receipt & costume on our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/EnvironmentStA, or via email at environment@st-andrews.ac.uk. Include a brief description of how it was made and why it is environmentally friendly. We look forward to seeing your creative ideas!

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How do I design a “green” Raisin costume/receipt?

Use your imagination! The best materials are things that can be recycled e.g. cardboard, wood, plastics, and fabric. Ask around the shops in town to see if they have any cardboard boxes you could use for your costumes/receipts, or have a look in the local charity shops for clothes and accessories for your costumes. Pinterest is a great source of inspiration!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast year’s competition winners with their family of biscuits made from cardboard!

Von Trapp familyAcademic children dressed as the Von Trapp family, with outfits made from an old bed sheet!

good raisin receiptThe Mystery Machine! An example of a good raisin receipt – creative, fun, easily recyclable, and folds up flat so it doesn’t take up much room in the cardboard skip.

Remember, the tradition is based on raisins, which are not big! Keep your receipts to a reasonable size in order to reduce the amount of items taking up space in landfill.

Click here for the full list of our Green Raisin Guidelines.

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Additional advice

– October in Scotland can be very cold and wet – please make sure you dress your academic children appropriately!

– Raisin parties often result in a large amount of glass bottles…make sure to recycle these bottles at your nearest glass recycling point.

– Please be aware that due to logistical reasons, you will be required to remove parts of your costume that are not integral before you enter the quad so anything that you are carrying (apart from your shaving foam) including, but not limited to, cardboard, hats, props, and very bulky or pointy items will be removed and recycled. Therefore, please be aware that Estates are unable to keep or return items.

– If you arrive with a receipt that the University cannot dispose of (e.g. electrical goods, livestock, foam filled furniture, or excessively large items) we’re afraid you’ll be turned away at the Quad, miss the foam fight, and will be charged for the cost of disposal of the item.

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That’s the serious stuff out the way – just stick to the rules and you’ll be guaranteed to have a great time! Have fun, look after yourselves (and each other), and don’t forget to submit your photos after the big day – we’ll be accepting entries until 27th October.

P.S. If you’ve ever wondered what happens behind the scenes at the foam fight then click here to find out!

Guest Blog: “Creating a Green Space: The New Community Garden”

 This week we have a rather special blog post coming to you from the Head Gardener of the University Hall Community Garden, Charlotte Davis.  

Our garden, around the back of University Hall, is still under a year old! Inspired by photographs dating from 1916 of a vegetable garden fit to supply the residents of the Hall, in the depths of last winter, we decided to recreate that green space of production, learning and relaxation.

With help from Transition and the blessing of the Hall Managers and Estates, this student led project has had a rollercoaster of a first year and has produced a huge amount of enjoyment and food for all the volunteers who helped out.

DSC05514Some delicious potatoes harvested from the garden.

From the tentative motley crew I tried to persuade to get excited about what was then just a 5×5 patch of turf, we now have a strong core team of volunteers who come once, or even twice a week to do odd jobs around the expanding and beautiful garden. A great mixture of people have come down to give me a hand, from biologists, to total novices, hall residents and non-hall residents. We are well placed to draw interest, sitting alongside the well-worn track towards the sports centre.

1779699_507326946045057_886765850_nOld or young, big or small, all are welcome to help out!

A little out of my depth having fallen into the role of project leader, I found myself up until the early hours researching all sorts of methods of propagation, companion planting, stacking appropriate for the Fife climate to make the space as interesting, productive and sustainable as possible. My job has without a doubt become much easier with some experience, a Permaculture Design Course and the unrelenting support I’ve received from Taylor, University Hall’s Senior Student.

Getting to grips with permaculture design.

From beans to herb spirals, cabbages to raspberries, purple sprouting broccoli, potatoes, rhubarb and a biodiversity tower, last year was a great success. This year we are thinking a bit differently. Some basic infrastructure will assert the garden properly on the space; a shed for the tools (and tea cups!) and a fence. Equally, the ornamental cherry tree (Prunus ‘Kazan’), under which we will put a bench, will cement the permanent intention of the garden. By gently applying permaculture principles to the plot and listening to what the volunteers want from what is essentially their garden, this year proves to be productive and a huge amount of fun for everyone who wants to get outside, get their hands dirty and learn a bit more about gardening in a beautiful place.

A surprise visitor to the garden!

I am determined that this garden not be a flash in the pan. Though it needs constant maintenance, I am confident that with enough support from students and local residents this garden can sustain as a place for learning, relaxation, appreciation of nature and, of course, eating fruit and vegetables!

If you want to get involved in the University Hall Community Garden, find them on Tumblr, Facebook, or by contacting Charlotte on: ced9@st-andrews.ac.uk