Environment Team Year in Review

Year in review

It’s been a busy old year for the Environment Team, so we thought we’d take this opportunity to reflect on what we’ve been up to over the last 12 months…

The year kicked off with new food waste regulations which came into force on 1st January, pushing our total recycling rate up to 73%! Once our food waste is collected, it goes on a rather interesting journey…click here to find out more about what happens to it after it leaves our kitchens.

nexus-r-shuttle-recycling-bin-signkitOne of many new food waste bins to pop up over the campus in 2014!

Once everyone returned for Semester 2 our first big event was Fairtrade Fortnight, with a whole host of activities planned to help raise awareness about trade issues including Fairtrade wine tasting, campaigning at local supermarkets, and a talk from a Nicaraguan coffee producer.

IMG_0608Fairtrade wine tasting in Fairtrade Fortnight.

Hot on the heels of Fairtrade Fortnight, 2014 saw the biggest Green Week yet with 35 events attracting over 750 participants – including the Principal! From tree planting to beach cleans, and swap shops to film screenings, there was plenty to keep us busy!

Green Week Pledge - PrincipalLouise Richardson pledges to make the University carbon neutral during her term of office.

This spring our five Transition interns surveyed various parts of the campus to record their levels of biodiversity. St Mary’s Quad and Andrew Melville pond were found to be particular hotspots for wildlife, so be sure to keep an eye out the next time you’re passing through!

Red Admiral (2)Red Admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta)

As students prepared to pack up and leave for the summer, StAndRe-Use were out collecting unwanted items and donations to pass onto students in September. Over a tonne of items were collected including household items, sports equipment, stationary, books, DVDs, thousands of clothes hangers, and a plethora of other weird and wonderful goods!

1907648_1412791679003714_120925503465276672_nJust a small selection of items collected by StAndRe-Use.

Estates was a hub of activity over the summer with three student interns joining the team to work on a number of projects. Find out what Dominyka, Daihachi, and Elena got up to in each of their respective blog posts.

There was also plenty to celebrate as the Museum of the University of St Andrews (MUSA) received a Gold Green Tourism Award for their commitment to environmental excellence and sustainability in practice. Read more about MUSA’s green efforts here.

P1060479MUSA – the latest recipient of a Gold Green Tourism Award.

As we welcomed new students to St Andrews in September, we also launched our updated Little Green Guide, and got to meet a lot of new faces at Transition’s Big Green Fair on a gloriously sunny day on St Katherine’s Lawn. The queue for the big StAndRe-Use giveaway snaked all the way round the library, and all 4,000 items disappeared within an hour, marking yet another successful event for the team!

1466148_761842487209824_2028672481353058614_nOur Freshers’ Week mural full of green pledges!

October was a particularly busy month for us with Transition hosting Scotland’s first Transition Roadshow event, welcoming fellow “transitioners” from across the country to network and share ideas. We also launched our Green Raisin Competition and were overwhelmed with the number of fantastic, sustainably-designed entries, as well as our achievement of making this year’s foam fight the first one to produce zero waste to landfill. On top of all that, the new carrier bag charge came into effect at the end of the month, and our biomass plant at Guardbridge received planning permission from Fife Council. Keep up to date with developments over at the Guardbridge Energy Centre site.

Rebecca Clark & Sarah Fenner - St Andrews themed MonopolyThe winners of our Green Raisin Competition.

November saw a new set of Environmental Facilitators “graduate” from our training course at an event attended by the Quaestor and Factor, Derek Watson. Our banana suit was also put to good use publicizing the university’s renewed Fairtrade status, along with the launch of our Fairtrade gift guide. Be sure to keep an eye out for news about Fairtrade Fortnight 2015 – can we manage to top the success of this year?

Environmental FacilitatorsEnvironmental Facilitators’ graduation event.

Finally, as the students all knuckled down for their exams and began to leave St Andrews to spend the holidays elsewhere, we launched our Winter Shutdown campaign to ensure we manage to save as much energy as possible over the break by switching off all electrical appliances and turning down the radiators. Our Environmental Facilitators helped spread this message to all our staff, as well as setting up food bank donation points across the campus, collecting over 150kg to donate to the St Andrews food bank to spread a little Christmas cheer.

Donated foodThe huge collection of food bank donations from our Environmental Facilitators.

All in all a pretty good year! We’ll be back blogging again in January, but until then…

Merry Christmas centred

How to Cut Your Christmas Waste

blog graphicThe holiday season is time for celebration, but these days it is often also a time of excess, with more and more food, presents, and decorations being bought every year. It is estimated that each person throws away an extra 50kg of waste at Christmas time, so we’ve come up with some tips on how you can reduce this waste…

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Cards and wrapping paperknotwrap

After the festive season is over, be sure to recycle your cards and wrapping paper. Try to avoid foil wrapping paper as this is much harder to recycle, and look out for cards and wrap made from recycled paper or FSC certified materials.

Alternatively, package your presents in decorative, re-usable boxes, bags, or fabric wraps, like these ones from Lush.

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ElectricalsElectrical items_0

At this time of year, people often receive gifts of new models of items they already own, such as cameras, televisions, hairdryers, MP3 players, mobile phones, and other electrical goods. Recycle the replaced goods by selling them, donating them to charity, or taking them to your local recycling centre.

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Fairy lightsfairylights

Using LED lights to decorate your home will not only reduce your energy use by up to 90% compared to traditional lights, but also save you money on your utility bills. Remember to turn the lights off before going to bed to avoid wasting energy.

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Ribbons and bows original_red-merry-christmas-ribbon-10-m

Ribbons and bows are often in perfect condition after a gift has been unwrapped. Stop them from ending up in landfill by saving them to reuse next year.

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Foodrecipe-image-legacy-id--1176533_11

┬áThere will inevitably be lots of leftover food after you’ve enjoyed your Christmas dinner. Check out these recipes for tasty and imaginative ways to make the most of your leftovers, and reduce your food waste. Moroccan turkey salad or Christmas pudding trifle, anyone?

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Decorations354c9fbd6304803aecfc7963cb34b918

Christmas decorations can be very expensive, so why not see what you can make from what you already have? Check out this page for suggestions, or if you want more ideas, a quick search on Pinterest produces thousands of results for DIY decorations!

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For more tips on how to cut your Christmas waste, check out last year’s blog post, and our green gift guide.

Images: fabric wrap present, electricals, ribbon, fairy lights, Moroccan turkey salad, DIY decoration

Green Gift Guide

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No one wants their gift to end up gathering dust (or worse, ending up in the bin!), so if you’re struggling to find a gift for the person who has everything, these green gift suggestions should give you some inspiration, as well as help reduce the amount of “stuff” that builds up at this time of year:

Food

jarsEveryone has to eat, so give the gift of some seasonal home baking. Not much of a cook? Give a friend everything they need to make their own sweet treat, presented in a handy re-usable jar! Instructions available here.

An experience

Concert1Much more memorable than a pair of socks! Get tickets for an upcoming play, movie, sports event, or concert that the recipient can look forward to after the festive season. Alternatively, take them out for afternoon tea, a nice dinner at a local restaurant, or book them in for a relaxing spa treatment. Not only do these gifts avoid clutter and a pile-up of “stuff”, but you get to enjoy the experience too!

Lessons

1394003159_Cooking-Class-at-Tra-Que-Herb-Village-in-Hoi-AnGive the gift of a new skill! Whether it’s learning a new language, taking a cooking class together, attending salsa lessons, or taking a craft class, there are lots of different fun and creative things you can do together throughout the new year. If you want to give a “physical” present too, why not buy a calendar and mark in the dates of all the classes to give the recipient something to look forward to?

Subscriptions

netflix-movies-expiring-jan-2014Whether it’s for their favourite magazine, newspaper, or Netflix, a year-long subscription is a gift that can be enjoyed month after month, and shouldn’t break the bank.

Adopt an animal

WWF-AdoptionIf they’re an animal lover, why not adopt or sponsor one of their favourites on their behalf? Whether its a dog at the local shelter, or an endangered species, the money will either help fund their care or give much-needed funds to conservation efforts – both very worthy causes.

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For more ideas why not check out our Fairtrade Gift Guide?

Images: jars, concert, cooking class, TV screen, panda