Where are they now? Part 2

Every year the Environment Team gains a new Sustainability Intern whose position last for a year. This internship provides the incredible opportunity to work for the University of St Andrews Estates Environment Team, helping to support, develop and implement the sustainability agenda across the campus. Over a series of blogs we have invited some of our interns to answer a few questions about their time as Sustainability Intern and what they have being doing since finishing the position. Meet Sarah Duley who was with the Environment Team from 2012 -2013

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What was your favourite part of your role as Sustainability Officer?

I loved my time at St Andrews as an undergraduate studying Sustainable Development, so I was really excited to stay on for another as Sustainability Officer in the Estates team. It turned out to be, as expected, another fantastic year in St Andrews and a great way to begin a career in sustainability.

I think one of the highlights of working in the Environment Team that has to be the location – to walk to work along East Sands or pop out for a lunchtime stroll along the coast, or even the occasional post-work dip in the sea was a delight (especially now working in the centre of Edinburgh where open space is harder to find at lunchtime!). In terms of the role though, my highlight would probably be the work I undertook around sustainable food.

Was there a particular highlight of your year within the Environment Team?

I worked with the University’s catering team to develop a Sustainable Food Policy for the University amongst other food related projects from food waste in halls alongside Transition or chairing the Fairtrade Steering Group. This part of the work was not only incredibly interesting but it has led me to where I am today.

Do you think you were particularly sustainable before the role? How did your attitudes to the environment and your own behaviours change over the year?

I believe I was already relatively ‘environmentally friendly’ before beginning the role but I definitely didn’t have such an awareness and understanding of how food impacts on all areas of environmental, social and economic sustainability or how a powerful a tool it can be for change. Whilst working in the Environment Team I began to realise the power of food as a way of engaging people in sustainability and as a solution to many other sustainability challenges. Food is universally necessary, interesting and emotive. It means something to everyone and the way we eat – from farm to fork – impacts on the world around us immeasurably.

Tell us what you have been up to since finishing your position as Sustainability Intern!

I have been working at the Soil Association in Scotland for the last couple of years on a programme called Food for Life Scotland, which is funded by the Scottish Government, and aims to make good food the easy choice for everyone in Scotland. Good food holds the key to healthier people, a thriving economy and a greener environment – something I learnt during my time in St Andrews. My role involves working directly with caterers across the public and private sector in Scotland to help them to develop more sustainable menus and supply chains. We use the Food for Life Served Here (formerly Catering Mark) award certification to support this and currently over 20 million Food for Life meals are served across Scotland annually, across schools, universities, care homes, workplaces and visitor attractions. I get to travel across Scotland and meet some of the fantastic people working in our public kitchens – and it is great to have been able to build on my experiences as a Sustainability Officer!

It’s been wonderful to follow the work of the Environment Team, and Transition, since I moved to Edinburgh and I’ve been very excited to see the Guardbridge project move to fruition. All the best to everyone!

 

 

A year in the life of the University’s Environment Team

The Environment Team 2015/2016

The Environment Team 2015/2016

It has certainly been a very busy year for the University of St Andrews’ Environment Team. The team have been consistently hard at work throughout the year with the University seeing an overall carbon emissions reduction by 8% compared to 2014/15, water consumption reduction by 4% and with reuse by from 2% to 4%! Throughout the year, Amanda our BEMS Engineer, has been working towards the successful completion of BEMS rationalisation and Siemens graphics which are now online for 50 of our buildings. We have also seen a change of Sustainability Officer when George King finished his post in the summer and Lindsey Mackay taking the position on at the start of August.

The team strives for sustainability across the whole of the University and we would like to thank all the departments and people who have worked alongside us this year to make it a success. We look forward to entering 2017 to tackle new challenges and continue to work hard to ensure that the future of the University, and its surrounded environments, are protected.

Here is a brief snapshot of some of the main projects we have been up to this year:

February

Guardbridge Park and Pedal Scheme

To help mitigate against travel disruption and to encourage the use of sustainable travel to and from work, the Environment Team and Transition operated a successful park and pedal scheme during road closures.

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March

Green Links Biodiversity Project

As part of the on-going work around The Open and sustainability the R&A will work on a number of local legacy projects from the 2015 Championship in St Andrews. Three projects have been agreed for funding to be delivered by Keep Scotland Beautiful, the University of St Andrews and Fife Coast and Countryside Trust.  The R&A would like to meet with various stakeholders to discuss opportunities around biodiversity related projects and have formed a discussion group to explore potential opportunities for collaboration and resource sharing in this area. Work with the University includes a Green Links map and noticeboards to advertise biodiversity hotspots around St Andrews.

April

Green Awards

This year we saw the introduction of the Green Society’s Award in collaboration with the Students’ Association which seeks to engage societies with sustainability and environmentally friendly behaviours. This year’s winners were St Andrews Adventure Group for their commitment to using electric cars throughout the year. The annual Green Sports Award went to the Canoe Club, winning £100.

August

Adaption to Climate Change

Continued work on University documents for Adaptation to Climate Change in order to ensure we are prepared for the impacts of climate change and to improve the resilience of the whole University as part of the Adaptation Learning Exchange (ALE). Adaptation Scotland are using the University of St Andrews as a case study for the rest of the sector, with staff and senior managers of Estates undertaking a climate impact assessment workshop. You can read the final document here.

September

Freshers’ Week: Welcome to the Green Bubble

Every year, when the students arrive back after the summer holidays, the centre of St Andrews gets busier and so does work within the University. This year Transition put on a huge array of exciting events including StAndRe-Use. The Environment Team were present to help out at various events and we had our own information stalls at the Green Fayre and Freshers’ Fayre, aiming to engage with students and let them know about our crucial work on campus. A full, fun filled but exhausting week!

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Environment Hall Reps

Within every hall on the University of St Andrews’ campus there are committees made up of students and wardens. Environmental Hall Reps make up a crucial part of each hall committee and whose role includes helping to reduce energy bills and costs throughout the year whilst promoting environmentally sustainable behaviours to their student bodies. At the end of September we held our annual training which was a great success and since then we have begun the Interhall Energy Competition and seen activities in halls including, Light Switch Off parties, environmentally friendly selfie competitions and Fairtrade quizzes.

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October

Sustainability Manager

We now have our first Sustainability Manager! As of October, David Stutchfield, formally our Energy Officer, has now been promoted to Sustainability Manager within Estates. His roles will remain the same as before, but with a few extra important jobs added on.

University Fairtrade Status Renewal

Every two years the University requires its University Fairtrade Status to be renewed which involves collecting information on Fairtrade activities and outreach on campus, and looking at products sold across campus. We are delighted to announce that after a successful application, we have renewed our Fairtrade status for another two years with many more Fairtrade events coming your way in Fairtrade Fortnight 2017! Watch this space!

One of our Hall Environment Representatives helps spread the word about Fairtrade!

One of our Hall Environment Representatives helps spread the word about Fairtrade!

Green Raisin Competition

Raisin Weekend is a well-known tradition associated with St Andrews University, where academic families host an array of events and parties for their ‘children’, ending in a spectacular foam fight. The Green Raisin Competition encourages families to dress up their children in environmentally friendly costumes, with the idea that they reuse items instead of buying new things! This year we saw a fantastic array of costumes enter the foam fight with our winners being a Viking ship. The winning family receive an adventure kindly given by Blown Away Adventures!

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Environmental Facilitators

We held our first training of the academic year for the Environmental Facilitator programme for being interested in working within their departments and units to promote, champion and support environmentally friendly behaviours amongst their teams and making their colleagues aware of the impact they have. With help from CAPOD, we hosted a networking event with representatives from E-Car and Electric Bike Scotland coming to speak to us over lunch. Later in the afternoon we had a demonstration of the electric bikes with the chance to try one out for ourselves!

November

Resource Efficiency

The amount of landfill has increased from 641 tonnes to 750 tonnes with % recycling down from 73% to 68% (academic year 2015/16) however reuse has increased from 2% to 4% (14 to 32 tonnes) which is significant and highlights the University’s efforts to move waste management up the waste hierarchy. In the past academic year we have also collected and baled an additional 20 tonnes of cardboard for recycling. Over 1500 items of bedding (duvets and pillows) were collected to be deconstructed and reused as fill for new mattresses. This is a fantastic example of circular economy which the University and the Environment Team are aiming to implement and encompass within its various processes, in order to reduce waste and increase resource productivity.

Resource efficiency was implemented through a number of positive initiatives including supplier takeback schemes and WARPit – a resources redistribution scheme for staff. To date this has saved 107 tonnes of carbon by diverting waste from landfill and saved £187k on reduced procurement spend. End of Term donation points were also set up in Halls of Residence and collections carried out for student society StAndRe-Use, Barnados Books, Glenrothes Food Bank and local charity Forces Support. 17 tonnes of material was donated to Forces Support including clothing, shoes and crockery.

December

Eden Campus

December was a very exciting month for the Environment Team and the University of St Andrews. The Eden Campus biomass district heating centre was awarded the Sustainable Development Award at the Scottish Green Energy Awards! Furthermore, a week later the biomass district heating boiler was officially lit by our Principal and commissioned!

 

 

Fairtrade in St Andrews

Did you know that St Andrews is a Fairtrade University?

One of our Hall Environment Representatives helps spread the word about Fairtrade!

One of our Hall Environment Representatives helps spread the word about Fairtrade!

What is Fairtrade?

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‘Fairtrade as a certification is much more than merely an environmental certification, it is the only and best ethical and social certification that really ensures social and environmental, ethical and economic impact, and therefore human impact.’

Enrique Calderon

Coffee farmer, Coopeagri.

Fairtrade is fundamental to changing the lives of farmers’ and workers’ for the better. Fairtrade is an international movement primarily focused on improving trading conditions for farmers across the world. Fairtrade 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 farming practices and livelihoods. 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.

This is just the beginning! For more information on what Fairtrade does please follow this link.

What does it mean to be a Fairtrade University?

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Search Fairtrade in St Andrews on Facebook

‘A Fairtrade University or College is one that has made a commitment to supporting and using Fairtrade.’. Throughout the UK there are more than 170 Fairtrade Universities and Colleges. As a Fairtrade University we recognise the impact we have on producers and communities throughout the world, and therefore are committed to increasing the use and sale of Fairtrade products across our campus. The University’s Fairtrade Steering Group is also committed to engaging with staff and students to increase the awareness of the benefits it brings to farmers through social, environmental and security sustainability.

Our Fairtrade University status shows our recognition and awareness for our global responsibility as a higher education institution and the influence that we have. Being apart of this wider movement is of great importance to the University as we live in a continually changing yet fragile world and should therefore consider the wider impacts we make.  The potential we have to raise awareness of Fairtrade on this campus and to our wider community  is incredible. We are not only proud of our Fairtrade status but recognise the beneficial effect this could have on producers and farmers around the world.

We believe that people are at the centre of Fairtrade on this campus.

What does this mean for the future of our University?

Being recognised as a Fairtrade University is of great importance to St Andrews as it shows our on going commitment and support for Fairtrade across a variety of sectors, departments and disciplines. This commitment is not short term, it is long term, with not only our policies reflecting change in our on going support of Fairtrade but our outreach to staff and students. The University encompasses both staff and students, and as the University is Fairtrade we hope that our staff and students will show their support for this important movement in the years to come. The Fairtrade Steering Group, that maintains the Fairtrade status, will continue their efforts to increase awareness, access, and availability of Fairtrade products offered within the University of St Andrews through new, innovative ways.

How can you be apart of the Fairtrade University?

The University’s Fairtrade Steering Group is made up of a mixture of staff and student representatives who meet a couple of times per semester to discuss Fairtrade within the University and to renew and update policies if necessary. The University’s Fairtrade Steering Group also seeks to partner with St Andrews Fairtrade Town Group in offering support, joint promotion and positive and pro-active engagement.

From the 27th Feburary to the 12th March, Fairtrade Fortnight will be on and we are in the process of starting to gather ideas for these two weeks. The aim of these two weeks is to reach out to staff and students on the campus, and to the local community, to spread the word about Fairtrade as effectively as possible, informing people of what it is, the good work it does and where they can find Fairtrade produce in St Andrews.

If you would like to have your say about Fairtrade in St Andrews, would like to get in touch or have some creative ideas please do email us at fairtrade@st-andrews.ac.uk.

Waste not: a word from our sustainability officer

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If you do not waste food you will never go hungry – so the old saying ‘waste not, want not’ leads us believe. To many, this phrase conjures up images of queues outside grocers of wartime Britain and a by-gone era of thrift. While the phrase may feel out-dated, the philosophy of reducing waste is more relevant than ever and has been re-invigorated by a growing sustainability agenda. Meanwhile food waste continues to present problems worldwide; one-third of all produce in the world is not actually eaten according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN) and, shockingly, almost half is thrown away in the UK.

Bringing it a bit closer to home we can look at how much we waste in St Andrews. As a University we produce over 150 tonnes of food waste each year, and whilst this figure has been falling there is clearly more we can do. To find out more, I spoke to Alan Riddell, Catering Manager for the halls of residences across the University. He tells me the on-going challenges faced in increasing the choices for over 2,000 students: “It’s a delicate balance but we’re trying to reduce waste, improve our menus and provide good value for money.”

With these aims in mind, Mr Riddell talks through the process of how these meals are made: “Firstly all portion sizes are standardised throughout halls, but it proves difficult to always accurately predict how much food to cook on a day-to-day basis.” The difficulty lies in the fact there is not a tried and tested method to understand why meals are popular; often, unpredictable factors such as the weather, the previous nights’ activites and events or even peoples’ timetables make planning impossible. Inevitably this can lead to an increased amount of food waste, but there are steps that are being taken to tackle this, such as providing second helpings for students and staff after each meal.

Simple behavioural changes can also help to reduce waste, as Mr Riddell highlights when talking about vegetable and salad servings, which anyone can help themselves to. He says: “We want to encourage students to eat everything they put on their plates in the first place and to go for second helpings rather than taking larger portions which aren’t eaten and have to be disposed of.” At the University of Manchester they tackled this issue by requiring students to clear their own plates into food recycling bins to make it more obvious how much was being thrown away and to shift responsibility.

Here in St Andrews Transition have been running the CookSMARTER (Save Money and Reduce Time Energy and Resources) programme to provide training for sustainable and healthy cooking around catered halls to help change behaviours whilst also helping to improve recycling facilities with the roll-out of food waste caddies to residents in self-catered halls, including Albany Park.

Back in catered halls, Mr Riddell reminds me that the catering team are open to engaging with new ideas. For this semester’s Green Week extra vegetarian options were offered to provide more choice whilst considering the carbon footprint of the meal, in response the suggestions from various students. This setup is currently being reviewed to ensure that food waste does not increase as a result of greater menu choice and that the new menu is popular. But it shows that these issues are taken seriously.

Furthermore, it is becoming harder to throw away food waste to landfill, which makes the case for food waste reduction even stronger. In January 2014 the Scottish Government introduced legislation affecting all large businesses and organisations that requires them to dispose of their food waste separately from landfill. Alongside the University’s aims to send zero waste to landfill by 2020 as part of its sustainable development strategy, nearly all of the food waste from the University is transported to an anaerobic digester 25 miles away at Glenfarg (Perthshire) where it is converted into electricity.

Whilst this is a clever solution, it is clear that we need to reduce the amount of food wasted in the first instance; our current practices are unsustainable. There are simple things we can all do, such as more considerate meal planning, to foster a culture of ‘waste not’ into the future.

If you have any ideas for how food waste in your halls or the University then you can contact the Environment Team at environment@st-andrews.ac.uk.

Original article: http://www.thesaint-online.com/2015/11/waste-not-a-word-from-our-sustainability-officer/

Eating organic on a budget

Organic header

The launch of “Swallow This“, Joanna Blythman’s latest exposé on the food processing industry, has got us thinking about food labelling. Supermarkets bombard us with messages of “fresh”, “natural”, and “healthy” food…but there is no way to know if these claims are true. One label we can trust, however, is “organic”…

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What does organic actually mean?

Foods can only be labelled organic if 95% of the ingredients come from organically produced plants and animals. The product must have been produced to meet strict regulations, and inspected and certified by a registered certification body, such as the Soil Association. In the UK, organic certification is regulated by DEFRA,  but the guidelines on organic food production and sale are set in EU law. Typically, the “organic” label is used as a reliable marker that the product has been produced in a way that satisfies certain conditions of human, animal, and environmental health.

These conditions include:

– all artificial colourings and sweeteners are banned
– genetically modified (GM) crops and ingredients are banned
– artificial chemical fertilisers are prohibited
– pesticide use is severely restricted
– animals must be truly “free range”
– animals must not be given hormones to alter their development
– animal feed must be GM-free and at least 85% organic
– farmers must support biodiversity and water quality through crop rotation and responsible farming

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Why should we buy organic food instead of non-organic food?

Organic fresh produce is less likely to contain residues of chemical pesticides or fertilisers, and organic animal products will not contain hormones or antibiotics that could adversely affect your health.

Organic farming practices are also more supportive of biodiversity, groundwater and soil quality and have higher standards of animal welfare.

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Organic food is more expensive – how can we buy organic on a budget?

1. Prioritise.

Animal products (meat, dairy, eggs) are the most important to buy organic because of the combined issues of animal welfare, and risk of exposure to pesticides, antibiotics and hormones. Next most important are the “dirty dozen” – fresh produce with the greatest average pesticide residues including apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, cucumbers, potatoes, and peppers. The “clean fifteen” are fruit and vegetables with minimal pesticide residues, and the safest to eat non-organically, including pineapples, avocados, cauliflower, grapefruit, and onions.

2. Cook from scratch.

Processed organic items like smoothies and granola bars are usually cheaper if made from scratch. Make in bulk, and use your freezer to keep food for longer.

3. Sign up for a veg box scheme.

Cheaper and more convenient than supermarkets, veg box delivery schemes are a great way to get fresh, local, organic fruit and vegetables delivered straight to your door. Find your nearest veg box scheme here.

4. Buy seasonal, and in bulk.

Stock up on produce that’s in season – food is cheaper when it is locally abundant and hasn’t been shipped across the globe. Buying in bulk also reduces packaging, and works out cheaper weight for weight. Divide food into smaller portions to freeze and eat later.

5. Grow your own.

Even if you don’t have a garden of your own, get involved in community gardens like the Transition Edible Campus scheme. By growing your own, you have total control over how your food is produced.

Fairtrade Fortnight Event Line-up

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Fairtrade Fortnight is the nation’s biggest celebration of all things Fairtrade, and we’ve got a great line-up of events to help you join in the fun in St Andrews. There’s something for all ages and interests, so read on to find out what we have planned, and be sure to get involved!

Tuesday 24th February

Fairly Traded Chocolate Tasting with Iain Burnett
Join local chocolatier, Iain Burnett, for a fantastic fairly traded chocolate tasting experience! Learn more about cocoa’s journey from producer to final product, and discover what makes these multi award-winning chocolates so delicious!
Cost: £5, Tickets available here.
Time: 7-8pmchocolate-20clip-20art-chocolates_assorted
Location: Sandy’s Bar, Students’ Association
Facebook event: Join here.

Wednesday 25th February

Fairtrade Banana Giveaway
Support Fairtrade and aid your workout by picking up a free banana from the Sports Centre!banana-20clip-20art-1386805768
Cost: Free
Time: 1pm
Location: Sports Centre

Friday 27th February

Fairtrade & Fairly Traded Wine Tasting with The St Andrews Wine Company
Raise a glass to Fairtrade Fortnight by sampling some of the finest Fairtrade and fairly traded wines, in a tasting led by the St Andrews Wine Company.
Cost: Free, but booking essential – please reserve your space here.wine
Time: 7-8.30pm
Location: Conference Room, Byre Theatre
Facebook event: Join here.

Monday 2nd March

Film Screening: “A Powerful Noise”
This film focuses on women’s issues in the developing world, which are an important part of the Fair Trade issue. A Powerful Noise weaves the inspiring stories of three ordinary women who have overcome gender barriers to spark unprecedented and remarkable changes in their societies.
The film takes you inside the lives of these women to witness their daily challenges and their significant victories over poverty and oppression. Their stories are personal yet illustrate larger issues affecting millions of marginalized women worldwide. A Powerful Noise is a meditation on the inherent potential of women to change the world.

Cost: Free.
Time: 6.30-8pmAPN_TYPE_TREATMENT
Location: School 1, St Salvator’s Quad
Facebook event: Join here.

Wednesday 4th March

Fairtrade Banana Giveaway
Support Fairtrade and aid your workout by picking up a free banana from the Sports Centre!banana-20clip-20art-1386805768
Cost: Free
Time: 1pm
Location: Sports Centre

Thursday 5th March

Poetry Walk: A Fair Trade in Verse
For Fairtrade Fortnight, this year’s poetry walk, led by Anna Crowe, finds poems engaging with issues of fair trade and justice in likely and unlikely places around St Andrews. A chance to explore this historic and beautiful Fairtrade town, home to Scotland’s oldest university and the game of golf, through a personal selection of poems.

Dependent on fair weather, please check with the StAnza desk.

Event presented in association with StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival and the St Andrews Fairtrade Town Campaign.
Cost: Free.index
Time: 10-11am
Location: Byre Theatre Garden
Website: http://www.stanzapoetry.org/2015/event.php?event=691
Facebook event: Join here.

Saturday 7th March

Fairtrade Cotton Tote Bag Decorating
Want to jazz up a boring tote bag? Drop in any time between 12-4pm to upcycle one you already have or decorate one of our 100% Fairtrade cotton bags with any design you like! Craft supplies, tea, coffee, and biscuits will be provided.
Cost: Free.totes
Time: 12-4pm (drop-in event)
Location: MUSA Learning Loft
Facebook event: Join here.

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Be sure to like the Fairtrade in St Andrews Facebook page for all the latest updates!

Green Resolutions for 2015

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Happy New Year! We hope you all enjoyed a restful and enjoyable break for the holidays, and are looking forward to what 2015 has in store.

It’s not too late to make a green resolution for the year ahead, so here are some of our ideas…

Food

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Eat less meat

Not everyone is ready to resolve to become 100% vegetarian, but resolving to eat less meat is a quick way to lower your carbon footprint. It is estimated that if each person cuts meat from their diet for one day a week it would be equivalent to taking 7.6 million cars off the road! Find some good vegetarian recipes, pick a couple of days a week where you will only eat vegetarian food, and make sure that when you do eat meat it comes from farms that ensure a high standard of animal welfare.

Eat more seasonal and local fruit and veg

Although supermarkets stock a wide range of fruit and vegetables year-round, those that are not in season locally will have been grown in energy-hungry greenhouses, or imported from afar. Find out what is in season, and be sure to buy locally where you can. By changing your meals according to the seasons, you’ll never get bored of what you eat!

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Transport

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Pedal power

Put down the keys, grab your helmet and resolve to pedal more in 2015! By leaving the car behind and using a bike for short journeys, not only will you be reducing your carbon footprint, but will also give you a good workout and much-needed exercise after the festive holidays. It’s still very dark in January, so if you’re cycling after sunset remember to stay cycle safe and make sure your front and rear lights are working.

Public transport

Granted, if you live in a remote area, or there is half a metre of snow outside your door, cycling sounds less appealing. If that’s the case where you live, start using public transport to get around. If public transport connections are poor in your area, consider campaigning for improved services, or investigate other sustainable options, such as car sharing.

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At home

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Energy efficiency

Make 2015 the year you resolve to increase the energy efficiency of your home! Simple changes like turning the thermostat down a degree, swapping your traditional lightbulbs for CFL (compact flourescent lightbulbs) or LED bulbs, fitting reflective radiator panels, and using window insulation film can all make a big difference to your energy consumption (and your bills!). If you don’t know where to start, contact the Energy Ambassadors who will give you all the information you need to get started.

Chemical-free cleaning

Detergents loaded with toxic chemicals end up in our waterways, poisoning rivers, and lowering the surface tension of the water, which presents another danger to aquatic life. Do a bit of research, and do your bit to reduce your impact by choosing eco-friendly washing and cleaning products as an alternative to harsh chemicals.

Reduce, reuse, recycle

As technology develops, we are able to recycle more and more materials, so make sure you’re up to date on what your local recycling service can and cannot recycle by looking up your local council’s website (Fife’s recycling information is available here). Remember to try and reduce the amount of household waste you produce in the first place by refusing to buy over-packaged goods, and reusing materials where possible.

Take shorter showers

The average person in the UK uses over 63 litres of water each time they take a shower, with the average shower lasting around 8 minutes. Aim to bring your shower time down to under 5 minutes, and when lathering up turn off the water until you are ready to rinse.

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Out and about

Eco-Friendly Shopping

Reusable bottles

Imagine a water bottle filled a quarter of the way up with oil. Shockingly, that’s about how much oil was needed to produce the bottle! Aim to ditch bottled water, and instead take a reusable bottle with you when out and about to keep you hydrated. Taking a reusable coffee cup with you will also help reduce your paper waste and some cafes (including the University’s cafes!) will also bag you a discount on your hot drink.

Beat the bag charge

With the 5p carrier bag charge brought into place late last year, there has been a huge reduction in the number of plastic carrier bags used in Scotland. Make it your mission for 2015 to keep a reusable bag handy in your bag, coat pocket, car, by the front door, and in your desk drawer to ensure you never have to pay the charge again!

 

Remember that you don’t have to make these changes all at once! Why not resolve to make one green change to your lifestyle every month? This way, the change is more likely to be permanent as it happens more gradually…

Images: vegetables, bicycle, thermostat, reusable bags

Guest Blog: Fairtrade Christmas Gift Guide

giftguideheaderThe Environment Team work closely with the University’s Fairtrade Steering Group, and are proud to present this guest blog written by their Fairtrade intern, Catriona! Read on for lots of great ideas for ethically-conscious gifts…

 

Shops in St Andrews

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Iain Burnett specialise in fairly traded chocolates. Their famous speciality truffles have just started being sold in the store, but there are a range of chocolates available from fruits to floral. The perfect gift for all chocolate lovers!

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If you are looking for something a little different, Oxfam currently have a wide range of household items, stationary and gifts, including gifts designed just for Christmas! It’s well worth a look if you aren’t sure what to get for someone.

bonkers.

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For cute and individual decorations and pieces Bonkers have a range of Fairtrade wood, metal, glass and fabric gifts.

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Looking for something that screams St Andrews that will also keep you warm in the cold winter months? Your Shop in the Students’ Association have some lovely Fairtrade cotton clothing including t-shirts and sweatshirts. Perfect if you are looking for a gift for yourself or someone else.

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bootsextractsFor the person who likes a bit of pampering, Boots extract range is all Fairtrade and includes: body butter, body wash, and sugar scrub, in a variety of scents. Perfect for a “treat yourself” evening.

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Why not try putting together a Christmas hamper for all those people you aren’t quite sure what to give. Shops all around town have a huge variety of Fairtrade goodies just perfect for a hamper…

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For Teas and Coffees, try: Balgove Larder, Save the Children, St Andrews Health Foods, Sainsburys, Tesco, Starbucks, Morrisons, and Spar.

For Chocolates try: Burns Sweet shop, Mitchells Deli, Holland and Barrett, and Luvians Ice Cream Parlour.

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Online Goodies

For sports lovers…check out Bala and Nigel’s Eco Store for a range of Fairtrade footballs.

For those who enjoy a tipple…why not get a bottle or case of Fairtrade wine, or for something stronger, try Fair Spirits’ quinoa vodka or Belize rum?

For those that like to accessorize…check out the ethically cool jewellery ranges available from Eighteen Rabbit, Amazon, and Luna Tree.

For children…there is a wide variety of Fairtrade clothing, toys, and more!

For more inspiration…browse dedicated Fairtrade retailers like Shared Earth, Eighteen Rabbit or Etiko’s for a huge variety of clothes, accessories, food gifts, homeware, toys, stationary, and much, much more!

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Student Sustainability Blogs

In the Environment Team we do our best to bring you interesting and relevant content about environmental issues…but we’re not the only ones! There are a number of student bloggers sharing their thoughts and ideas on sustainability, and we thought we’d take this opportunity to introduce you to a few of them…

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weedsandwelliesWeeds and Wellies

First up is Weeds and Wellies, run by the Uni Hall’s Head Gardener, Charlotte. Her blog is a record of all the activity that takes place in the Uni Hall Community Garden, providing updates on what she has planned for each weekly garden session, which food is ready to be harvested, and tips for maintaining your own garden. Her posts are all accompanied by beautiful photographs of the progress at the Uni Hall plot which is sure to get you inspired! Charlotte also picks a “Gardener of the Week”, which we think is a fantastic way to encourage people to get involved – head on down to Uni Hall at 2pm on Wednesdays to help out and join in the fun…who knows, maybe the next “Gardener of the Week” will be you!

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theconsciousstudentThe Conscious Student

Up next we have The Conscious Student, written by flatmates Anna and Kasia. This blog aims to help you “tread lightly on the Earth and be kind to your wallet“. Frustrated at the lack of resources for leading an ethical and environmentally friendly lifestyle on a budget, The Conscious Student was born to share their ideas for socially conscious and affordable choices. The blog has a great variety of content, from thought-provoking articles, product recommendations, informative tips and guides, DIY activities, and a whole host of different recipes, there really is something for everyone!

Check out The Conscious Student on Facebook and Instagram to help you stay up to date with the blog!

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lifewithoutplasticNo Plastic Please

No Plastic Please documents one student’s challenge to live for two months without producing any plastic waste. Alexis was shocked at the amount of plastic that we use in our everyday lives and decided to challenge herself to see how much plastic she could cut out, to show to others that it can be done and that plastic-free habits are easily adopted! She has curated a fantastic list of resources for more information, as well as an A-Z Plastic-Free Guide which highlights some fantastic plastic-free alternatives, including shampoo and toothpaste which comes in recyclable cardboard packaging instead of plastic bottles and tubes – we’re intrigued!

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standrewslarderSt Andrews Larder

St Andrews Larder is a food blog run by Victoria, a champion of wholesome, home-cooked meals. Her blog features a variety of different recipes that are sure to get your mouth watering, as well as reviews, recommendations, and interviews with local restaurateurs. A strong supporter of buying good, local ingredients, Victoria highlights where you can get these ingredients from retailers and producers in St Andrews. On top of that, every post is accompanied by beautiful photography sure to get you itching to get into the kitchen and whipping up your own culinary creations!

You can keep up with the St Andrews Larder on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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Happy reading! If you know of any other student sustainability blogs we’d love to hear about them!

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