Freshers’ Week 2016: A Guide to Green Events

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There are many many events going on this Freshers’ Week and whilst you are all probably going to be busy making new friends, settling into halls, attending events and trying out new societies do have a look and consider coming to these awesome events.

There’s more! Think food, bicycles, beach activities, colour fights, and other games, oh, and more food! There are just too many exciting events to talk about here so be sure to click the link at the bottom of this blog to find out about ALL the other Green Events we have going on this Freshers’ Week!

Monday 5th September

The Big Green Fair (St Katherine’s Lawn behind Library, 11am-3pm) is an outdoor festival celebrating the environment, with live music and great local food. Find out more about what our eco-friendly societies are up to this year and how to get involved in their activities and projects. The Environment Team (that’s us) will have a stand there too so be sure to pop by and say hi.

The Big Free Giveaway (Arts Lecture Theatre, 11am – 3pm) is an event where household items, kitchenware and stationery donated by previous students will be up for grabs! It’s a popular event so do make sure to arrive on time!

Tuesday 6th September

The St Andrews’ Veg Soc and Inklight Soc (Cockshaugh Park, 2pm – 4pm) are collaborating to bring you an exciting event filled with poems and smoothies! They will even have their own Smoothie Bike so you can make your own smoothie in a green way!

Wednesday 7th September

The Community Garden Sessions (Uni Community Garden, 2pm – 4pm) offers the opportunity for you to gain the knowledge and skills to grow your own food! With the University now having 10 food growing spaces that are open to students, staff and local people it’s also a very popular part of life here. Come along to learn more and enjoy some of the food from our gardens (a Transition event).

Transition St Andrews is part of a UK based initiative to reach out to academic and non-academic communities through events and training to help make communities more sustainable and aware of our impact on the world. Head down to East Sands to meet more of the team, learn about what is going on this year and have a fun and relaxing afternoon on the beach (Sea, Swim, BBQ)!

Thursday 8th September

The Wildlife and Conservation Society (WildSoc) are having a Scavenger Hunt (Rectors Café, 10am – 12pm) across St Andrews followed by a Pub Quiz (Drouthy Neebors, 7.30pm) at Drouthy Neebors. This one is not to be missed!  11313616_1642722232660940_2024001443_n

Want to meet some like-minded people and have a drink at the same time? Then come along to Green Drinks (St Andrews Brew Co, 5pm – 8pm) for the chance to meet people who are also interested in environmental issues and have a try of some local beer (or whatever takes your fancy).

Saturday 10th September

On Saturday join and meet the cycling community of St Andrews at St Andrews’ Bike Fest (Agnes Blackadder Hall, 11am – 2pm) where you can grab yourself a bargain ride, find out about training, maintenance and other bike help. There will be around 100 quality second hand bikes for sale plus many to rent through Bike Pool so make sure you arrive early as its going to be a popular event! This is the perfect opportunity to learn how to fix your bike and grab a bargain.

Sunday 11th September

Freshers’ Fayre is by far the biggest event of Freshers’ Week! On Sunday you will be able to discover all the different societies that you can get involved during your time in St Andrews. Be on the lookout for Transition, The Environment Team and Fairtrade St Andrews and all the other brilliant societies!

We look forward to welcoming you to the Green Bubble very soon. Have a great Freshers’ Week!

For more information on all other Green Events click here.

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Biking to work (and beyond)

Lindsey Mackay, the Sustainability Intern for the Environment Team, discusses the benefits of cycling to work and on-going projects and developments. The Environment Team strive to improve the sustainability agenda across the University and St Andrews.

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A cyclist enjoys a morning ride through the Old Course.

The image that sprung to mind when I first considered biking to work was not a particularly appealing one. Last year the UK saw 1272 mm of rainfall and with this in mind the thought of biking to work didn’t excite me in the slightest. Why would I want to arrive at work cold and wet?

Having recently moved to the edge of St Andrews I decided it would be a good idea to bring through my bike so I could easily get from a to b. In St Andrews the image of cycling to work or class is idyllic; cobbled, narrow lanes tucked away within the town center, a backpack full of books, and perhaps a bag full of groceries hanging from the handle bars. Students often choose to bike to their classes only to jump back on at the day to make a mad dash to get back to halls in time for dinner. This image may be familiar to many people, whether you cycle to work or class in and around St Andrews but cycling really does have many benefits!

I admit that at the beginning it was a struggle, particularly since I haven’t biked properly for 4 years. However, after a couple of days I started to feel the benefits. I noticed that I arrived at work energised, and found myself to be more productive throughout the whole working day. Now this might not seem like an obvious outcome, and for someone who often needs a mid-morning coffee to help me through to lunch, I certainly was taken by surprise at how refreshed I felt. Cycling provides a brilliant time to think about the day, to reflect and work off any built up stress. Furthermore, you get to beat the morning and evening work traffic which can be rather satisfying, it’s free with no fuel costs to consider, and there are absolutely no concerns about where you will park once you are home. Moreover, cycling is a green and sustainable form of transport, one with 0 carbon emissions and a way in which I can do my part to reduce my carbon footprint. Of course, there are some negatives to cycling, however I wholeheartedly believe that the benefits outweigh any negative aspects.

For some using their car is the only way they can get to work but for others biking to work is a very viable option. In 2012 cars represented 13.4% of all the UK’s CO2 emissions for that year. Since then these numbers have been declining, however more action is required. One way in which we can help to reduce the impacts of climate change on our world, the people and ecosystems within is by assessing our individual carbon footprints and taking action to reduce it. It’s true, the actions required may not always be easy however, we have a responsibility to care for our environment. On average you could save £1000 annually by choosing to bike to work. Although these results are conditional on factors including length of journey and type of car, it is evident that the savings are significant making it a more attractive option for people to switch to.

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Taking an evening bike ride past the Old Course and West Sands.

I have now found a way to use an enjoyable mode of exercise to transport me quickly to work, whilst benefiting the environment and reducing my carbon footprint. And biking to work is not the end of the story. Taking evening rides to chase the setting sun across the Old Course and West Sands has become a favourite past time, and with a beautiful setting like St Andrews I would encourage anyone to go explore in the quiet of the evenings on their bike. It’s true that up till now I have only experienced biking to work in the sunshine and haven’t yet faced the brutalities that can come with a true Scottish winter. I may need to invest in some good quality waterproof trousers. Any recommendations?

The University of St Andrews’ Environment team strives to help make the community of students and staff at the university live and act in sustainable ways. Just one of the ways in which we aim to do this is by engaging with staff and students. Recently we conducted a travel survey, now implemented every year, in order to establish the travel patterns and behaviours of those working within the university. The survey included potential effects of the developments at Guardbridge by considering the effects on travel when selected departments move out to the new site. We hope that the results of this survey will help us to put long terms plans into place to encourage and support staff to switch to (or keep using) sustainable modes of transport amidst all the upcoming changes.

THIS WEEK in St Andrews there will be a free bike to work breakfast at the Students’ Association on the 25th of August from 8 am – 10 am, and all staff members are warmly welcome. The Bike Pool team will be on hand to give advice and to do maintenance work. Bike Pool do regular drop in sessions around St Andrews and more details can be found by clicking here. If you are interested in cycling in St Andrews please take a look at the new St Andrews cycle map which is now available on the university website.

Click on the links for more information or get in contact with us!

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Evening views across the Old Course.

Fairtrade and Brownies

Lindsey Mackay, the Sustainability Intern for the Environment Team, discusses Fairtrade and shares a recipe which can be enjoyed by everyone. The Environment Team strive to improve the sustainability agenda across the University and St Andrews.

Fairtrade is an international movement helping to improve trading conditions for producers in poor countries. The movement strives to achieve and maintain fair prices for farmers to cover aspects including production costs, and to ensure that they can achieve long term sustainable living. In addition, Fairtrade guarantees long term contracts with the farmers to provide security for their families and local communities, and the opportunity to benefit from expertise that will enhance the skills needed to develop their businesses and increase production in a sustainable way. Fairtrade is fundamental to changing the lives of farmers’ and workers’ lives for the better. For example, according to latest data from the Fairtrade Foundation, workers on plantations spent 26% of their Fairtrade premium on education1.

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Look out for the Fairtrade symbol when you are at the shops.

It is important that we all think about the choices we make on a day to day basis, particularly when they can directly affect the livelihoods of others. Having researched the effects of the international food trade during my time at University, I strongly believe in movements like Fairtrade. We can often take the food on our plates for granted, but I have come to discover and learn about the shocking, unjust, and yet sadly true stories behind the treatment and payment of farmers who work hard to support and provide for their families and local communities. I now actively seek to look for the Fairtrade Mark (see picture above) when I go on my weekly shop, and it’s easier than you think. Many products are covered by the mark including bananas and chocolate (two staples of my weekly shop), yet still more can be done. You can play an important role in supporting this movement by looking out for and buying products in your local supermarkets and shops with the Fairtrade Mark on the packaging.

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Before..

I have to admit that I am a bit of a baking enthusiast. If I could live of cake for the rest of my life I would. I like to think of myself as a good baker, however, one bake that has always defeated me is the brownie. Multiple recipes have been tried and multiple methods used but all with the same result; a soggy mess. When I recently received a recipe from a friend I was skeptical due to previous failed attempts in the kitchen but I wanted to give it a go. The result? Mouth-watering, rich and moreish brownies that the Environment Team seemed to enjoy. Success!

If you want to try out the recipe I was recommended follow the link, and remember to look for Fairtrade ingredients when you go to the shops (I find that Green & Black’s Organic Fairtrade Cooks’ Dark Chocolate works particularly well with this recipe!). Stay tuned for more delicious recipes using Fairtrade products!

If you would like to get to more about Fairtrade in St Andrews and how you can get involved please email lm222@st-andrews.ac.uk, visit our Fairtrade Facebook page or click here for more information.

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The result!

1http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/en/what-is-fairtrade/facts-and-figures

The New Sustainability Intern

Last week the Environment Team welcomed their new Sustainability Intern, Lindsey Mackay, to the team.

11407155_10204150318418553_3892817286074196572_nLindsey has recently graduated from the University of St Andrews’ Geography and Sustainable Development department with Geography (BSc). She is looking forward to taking over and developing the projects that George King, the previous Sustainability Intern, has been working hard on over the past year. Having thoroughly enjoyed her last four years as an undergraduate at the University, Lindsey is thrilled that she is able to stay another year in St Andrews whilst using the skills and knowledge she has developed through her studies to help make the University a more sustainable place.

Over the next year Lindsey will be focusing on outreach, engagement and communication with student, staff and the local community. Lindsey will primarily be helping the University to achieve the sustainability agenda and goals. Part of the intern’s role is to support with University sustainability initiatives including Transition. She will also support the other members of the team: David Sutchfield (Energy Officer) and Barbara Aitken (Environment Officer) on their projects including the Environmental Facilitators Network, developments with projects including the renewable energy park at Guardbridge and Environmental Hall Rep training.

You can stay up to date with what the Environment Team are working on through their Facebook page and via Twitter. The team have also joined Instagram and you can follow them by searching environmentteamstandrews.

Lindsey enjoys horse riding, baking and going on walks with her camera so expect to see a few photographs from time to time!

If you would like to get in contact with Lindsey directly please don’t hesitate to send her an email at lm222@st-andrews.ac.uk.

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