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.

What I’ve learned as a Halls Environment Rep

This week our blog is written by one of our Environment Hall Rep’s from Albany Park Hall, Fiona Blackwood! Fiona has worked hard at Albany Park Hall this past academic year and we are very thankful for her continued efforts and enthusiasm to make the university a more sustainable place and increase awareness within her hall of all that is going on on our campus. Take a read to see what she has been up to this past year, and if you would like to learn more about the role of Environment Hall Rep please email environment@st-andrews.ac.uk!

First of all, my name is Fiona, and I’m coming to the end of a year as the Environments Rep for Albany Park. It’s been a challenging but fun role that has helped me to become more aware not only of some of the difficulties in promoting sustainability within halls, but also some of the fantastic things going on around St Andrews around sustainability and the environment. Halls are the first time away from home for many students, and especially in self-catered halls such as Albany where food is a more prominent issue, it can provide a really great opportunity to encourage environmentally-conscious habits. On top of that, having such a diversity of students in the university as a whole can enable amazing discussions around sustainability, and halls are a great venue for this.

Image from the Cycling in St Andrews facebook page

However, it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed with deadlines, exams, maintaining a social life, and the pressure to become somewhat employable that it can often become hard to act in a more environmentally conscious way. Personally, I think the two main perceived barriers to this are time and cost. In terms of time, having hall environments reps makes it easier to try and improve things like recycling and encouraging cycling by hopefully providing another liaison between the students, residential services and various other groups within St Andrews such as Bike Pool.

Image from The Tree facebook page

And then there’s the cost element, which can be discouraging when money is tight and it can seem difficult to find sustainable food and household products at an affordable price. However, The Tree is a fantastic project run by Transition which aims to make it easier and more affordable to buy local, Fairtrade and organic produce, and this year we set up a new drop-off point in Albany, which has hopefully made residents more aware of the initiative and encouraged its use. And from affordable food to completely free, Albany is also lucky enough to boast its own Edible Campus garden, where several events have been held, making residents more aware of the space.

I’ve learned that the ridiculous seems to work better when it comes to raising awareness, as shown by the Fairtrade banana costume that some of the hall reps donned to spread the news of St Andrews as a Fairtrade university. The smoothie bike also made an appearance in Albany for Fairtrade Fortnight, and events like pumpkin carving where people made some amazing food from the leftovers went down well.

So, while in many respects the year has flown by and there’s still so much more I had wanted to achieve, I think the best thing about being a hall Environments rep has been seeing how many projects are already going on around the university and trying to get the hall involved in them in some way. I think hall reps are a great way in general to try and make environmental things easier and more fun, and I hope this can continue!

 

Bike to Work Breakfasts

We are delighted to announce that St Andrews’ University Bike to Work Breakfasts are running on a monthly basis! Open to all staff members and post graduate students, Bike to Work Breakfasts are run and supported by Transition St Andrews, CAPOD and the Environment Team, plus our wonderful student volunteers. The main aims of the breakfasts are to encourage people to bike to work but also to build stronger relationships and connections between the cyclists that commute to work by bike within the university. We seek to do this to help the University of St Andrews reduce its overall carbon footprint as we strive towards a sustainable university. From the 2015 Staff Travel Survey 8% of staff members at the University of St Andrews cycle to work, but we believe more can cycle!

Community provides the perfect opportunity for people to change behaviours and attitudes. By putting on Bike to Work Breakfasts we hope to see more people regularly cycling to work, to continue to support and encourage those who already choose to bike to work, to strengthen the cycling community and to help decrease the university’s overall travel carbon footprint.

Bike to Work Breakfasts don’t hold back when it comes to food. If you come along you’ll find yourself with a choice of hot and cold dishes ranging from delicious hot filled rolls to porridge, and from toast to multiple flavours of yoghurts (and sometimes pancakes)! We want to cater for everyone so if you have any dietary requirements or ideas of foods which we can make then please do get in touch!

Good food and conversation often provides the perfect opportunity for new and creative ideas to form, and we have enjoyed hearing the encouraging feedback that has been given and the mini brain storming sessions that have occurred during these mornings. If you are a staff member of the University of St Andrews or a postgraduate student you are warmly welcome to join us for our next Bike to Work Breakfast next Wednesday (12th of April) from 8.00am – 9.00am at the Chaplaincy building (Mansefield building) on Market Street. We promise good food and conversation!

If you want to find out more please email environment@st-andrews.ac.uk!

‘The True Cost of Fashion’

Fairtrade Fortnight 2017 in St Andrews was huge success with over 350 people across the town and gown engaging and getting involved with the different events organised by various societies and groups across St Andrews. From smoothie bikes at halls of residences to coffee mornings within various departments of the University to a Fairtrade Hungarian Sweet loaf Skillshare, the fortnight was enjoyed by many with over £150 raised and donated to the Fairtrade Foundation.

Smoothie Bike with Just Love

One event in particular that was both eye opening and shocking was the screening of the True Cost of Fashion documentary organised by the Environment Subcommittee for the Students Association. Every year 1.5 billion garments are sown by approximately 40 million people, predominantly found in countries described as ‘least developed’. The film looks at how and where our clothing is made and the huge, and devastating human and environmental costs that come with the fast fashion industry that has evolved over the years. The documentary also focuses on those who are battling these industries, those who are striving to make consumers more aware of fashion industry and the related environmental atrocities and human exploitation. The documentary empowers individuals to make changes in buying habits that can positively change the whole supply chain. The documentary calls for positive changes that help those who are making the goods we use and who are seen to be at the bottom of the supply, by giving them the respect that they deserve.

True Cost of Fashion screening at the Byre Theatre

If you would like to watch this powerful documentary it is available on Netflix, iTunes and Amazon video or to learn more about sourcing ethically follow the link.

Businesses and institutions have a huge impact and influence on the whole supply chain. As St Andrews University moves forward into the rest of 2017 as a proud Fairtrade certified University we seek to continue in our efforts to source both food and clothing that supports those who produce and farm the things we consume on a daily basis through the provision of fairer salaries, and social and environmental opportunities for sustainable development.

But we also need change on a personal and individual level. Fairtrade Fortnight 2017 has left us thinking more critically about where we put our money and what differences we can make in our spending habits and attitudes. Do we really know where our money is going, and what it is doing? What can we change?

If you would like to see more about Fairtrade in St Andrews why not watch the latest video produced for us by Bubble TV, or email us at fairtrade@st-andrews.ac.uk. Choose Fairtrade.