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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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.

Follow us:

Facebook: EnvironmentStA 

Twitter: EnvironmentStA

 

 

 

Crossing Scotland in an Electric Car: a How-to Guide

George King, from the University’s Environment Team, describes his experience of driving an electric car on a long distance journey. The Environment Team strive to improve the sustainability agenda across the University and St Andrews.

As an occasional driver (and one who doesn’t own a car) the prospect of driving an electric car is always exciting. Previous excursions with E-Car St Andrews have been limited to Fife to avoid the need for a re-charge. However this time I decided to venture further afield – heading west to Loch Lomond – with a group of friends in tow.

You can hire electric cars and vans across St Andrews, at affordable pay-as-you-go rates

You can hire electric cars and vans across St Andrews, at affordable pay-as-you-go rates

For those who have never set foot in an electric car (aka electric vehicles, or ‘EVs’ for short) there are a few things to consider:

  1. No jangling keys. Instead you use your membership card (credit card sized) as a key to open the car. Inside the EV there is a thicker plastic card key, which you need to insert before you press the ‘start/stop’ button. All silently of course.
  2. There are no gears. Unlike most cars in the UK, there is no need for a manual transmission and instead EVs behave like automatics. Put it into ‘Drive’ and you’re good to go.
  3. You can re-charge the vehicle in various places across Scotland and the UK. Coverage of charging points is surprisingly good and with Charge Your Car (CYC) covering 99% of them you’re sure to find somewhere to plug in. It is worth noting that charging is also free.
  4. Planning is key. As we found out planning your route is essential for longer journeys to ensure you reach a charging point in time to recharge the batteries.

For our journey we set off from St Andrews, picking up a friend in Anstruther on the way, and decided to take the slightly longer route via the Forth Road Bridge and Glasgow to put the car to the test.

We knew in advance that we couldn’t make it to our destination without charging but rather than planning charge stops beforehand, we  took the impromptu method – using the CYC app to locate a charging point, on the way.

Waiting for the last bit of charge

Almost there – just 20 more minutes for this charge in Bathgate

Once the range of the EV dropped to 15 miles the ‘range anxiety’ started to kick in, we decided it was time to look for a charger as soon as we could. After a brief navigation mishap (a pessimist may say ‘lost’) we found ourselves a vacant charger. Stopping at Bathgate for an hour, we were able leave the car to charge and use the time productively, shopping for our tea and weekend supplies while we waited.

Back on the road again, we soon arrived at our friend’s flat in Balloch, where we were staying for the weekend. It was then a matter of dropping the car off at a local point, 1 mile from the flat, to re-charge overnight.

Setting out bright and early the next morning we headed for the summit of Ben Lomond in the sunshine, struggling at first with the gradient and then, believe it or not, with the heat.

Enjoying the view from the summit of Ben Lomond

Enjoying the view from the summit of Ben Lomond

After lunch a-top the Ben, we completed the circuit route, managing a swim in Loch Lomond and a pint at a local pub before the day’s end.

On the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond

We found a lovely secluded beach on the shore of Loch Lomond

The next day we had to say our goodbyes and planned our route back to St Andrews in the EV. For the return journey, we decided to go a more direct route and to charge in two short 20 minute bursts – in Stirling and Kinross. Learning from our previous mistakes we found both charging points without difficulty, giving us a brief chance to explore the outskirts of Stirling and to grab a coffee on the banks of Loch Leven.

Over the whole weekend we travelled a total of 216 miles, charged 4 times (including one overnight charge) and spent around 8 hours on the road or charging.

Our round trip route. Google predicts this round trip would take almost 6 hours in a conventional car

Our round trip route. Google predicts this round trip would take almost 6 hours in a conventional car

Although it didn’t always go to plan (when we had one), the weekend was a success and the EV certainly made the trip even more memorable – all for the right reasons.

It won’t be long before we plan our next low carbon getaway; let’s just hope another heatwave decides to join us again next time.

Electrifying talk at Lawhead Primary

Pupils at Lawhead Primary were given a talk by Dita, manager at E-car club St Andrews, and Mike from the University of St Andrews. As part of the talk they were given a demonstration of the University ‘Wee Green Machine’ and the E-Car Renault Zoe.

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P2s and P5/6s at Lawhead were invited to explore the cars.

All photos reproduced have received permission from Lawhead Primary School to do so.

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/

Meet the 2015 Interns – Richard Adams

Following the success of last year’s internships, the Environment Team have taken on two more interns to work on various projects with us this summer. It’s great having some new faces in the office, so we wanted to take the opportunity to introduce them to readers of our blog so you can find out a bit more about what they’ve been working on! First up is our Travel Carbon Intern, Richard:

Richard Adams

Name: Richard Adams
Where are you from?: I’m from Burton-on-Trent in Staffordshire, England.
Internship Title: Travel Carbon Intern
Degree and year of study: I’ve just finished my second year studying Geography.

Give a brief snapshot of your role:
My job is to take the data acquired from various sources through which the university books its business travel arrangements and use it to extrapolate a CO2 estimate from it. I am also using the staff and student survey data to estimate the emissions associated with commuting to/from the university and finally looking at how the current systems for gathering this data can be improved to make future estimates more accurate and streamlined.

What attracted you to this internship with the Environment Team?
I wanted to gain experience working within the environmental sector and doing real-world work, building on what I have studied in my first 2 years here.

What have you learnt/what skills have you acquired so far from the internship?
I have learnt a lot of Excel and data skills which will be very useful in the future, but mostly the experience of working in an office environment with meetings/reports/suppliers has given me lots of skills required for working in professional ‘real-world’ environments.

How does this internship fit into your future career plans?
I would like to work in the environmental/sustainability sector and this internship has given me experience working within a team focused on environmental work and hopefully will be valuable in getting future work in the sector.

Share one tip for sustainable living that you wish more students would adopt: Try and buy local produce that is in season. It (usually) has less packaging, has travelled less miles to get here and you’re also supporting the local economy.

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Click here to meet our EcoCampus Intern, Eloise, and check out the projects last year’s interns (Dominyka, Daihachi, and Elena) worked on last summer!

A sneak peek at Green Week

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With Green Week kicking off on 7th March, we’ve put together an easy guide to the week’s events, whether you’re into poetry or permaculture, ethical investment or eco-beer. Go get your green on!

If you want to…get your hands dirty

There are plenty of opportunities to get down and dirty during Green Week! Want to get into gardening but don’t know where to start? Uni Hall gardener, Charlotte Davis, will be running an “Introduction to Permaculture” session on Wednesday afternoon to get you all clued up. Or if you prefer sand to soil, get yourself down to next Sunday’s Beach Clean with the Marine Conservation Society to help keep West Sands beautiful.

Leave a lasting legacy in St Andrews by coming along to one of our tree planting sessions – taking place on Monday at DRA, on Tuesday in the Community Garden, and on Wednesday at Albany Park. If you prefer to eat the things you plant, help plant fruit trees as part of an edible walkway in Guardbridge, celebrate the creation of a new Edible Campus garden at Agnes Blackadder Hall, and get stuck into some vegetable seed sowing at Andrew Melville Hall. Full details of times and locations are available here.

If you want to…try something new

Get yourself along to Sunday’s Skillshare Extravaganza – try your hand at everything from photography to cooking, hen keeping to bike maintenance, and much, much more! All the sessions are completely free (including the tasty lunch!), and will be running from 10.30-4.30pm in the Cosmos Centre.

If you want to…shape a sustainable future for the University

Tuesday’s Transition Open Forum is the place for you to share your big ideas for our small town, creating a sustainable vision for the future of St Andrews.  If you’re curious to find out how the University’s money is managed, come along to meet the fund managers at “Investing for a better future” on Wednesday and find out how our £48 million of endowed gifts have been invested.

If you want to…work up a sweat

Sign your sports club up to Cycletricity – the most competitive event of Green Week! Watch as the teams battle it out to produce the most bicycle-powered electricity in 20 minutes. Not part of a sports club? No problem! There will be a give-it-a-go session between 12-1pm so anyone can hop on a bike and feel the burn!

If you want to…get creative

Feeling crafty? Beat the 5p bag charge, and upcycle a boring bag or decorate a 100% Fairtrade cotton tote bag with the help of CraftSoc this Saturday. Alternatively, head along to one of StAnza’s climate change themed poetry readings, or explore folklore stories in the surrounds of the Botanic Garden with environmental writer Mandy Haggith on Monday.

If you want to…get sustainably sloshed

Reward yourself after a hard day’s tree planting! Cosy up with a glass of wine on Monday night at Topping & Co to celebrate the launch of Joanna Blythman’s latest book “Swallow This”, an expose on the food processing industry. If the Brew Pub is more your scene, sample a socially responsible tipple (or two!) at our biodynamic and organic tasting on Tuesday, or join Transition from some green chat over local brews on Thursday.

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Don’t forget to check out the Green Week website, Facebook, and Twitter (@GreenWeekStA) for the full event lineup and latest updates!

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!

Intern with the Environment Team!

screen-shot-2014-07-08-at-19-05-55.pngInterested in pursuing a career in the environmental sector? Looking for a way to boost your CV?

The Environment Team are taking on two student interns this summer, and you could be one of them!

The two positions available are our Ecocampus Internship, and our Travel Carbon Footprint Internship. Both will run from Monday 1st June until Friday 10th July (6 weeks), and offer challenging, yet valuable experience of graduate-level work. As well as this, each intern will receive financial support through remuneration, university accommodation (where available), an induction and introduction to the Estates department, and feedback on their performance for future development.

Some case studies written by previous interns are available to view as part of our “Meet the Interns” series – Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

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How to apply

The internships are open to registered 2nd and 3rd year University of St Andrews undergraduates (or 3rd and 4th years on five year degrees). Each eligible applicant may apply for up to three internships within the St Andrews Summer Internship Scheme but may accept only one.

Hand in 3 copies of your CV and 3 copies of your covering letter for each internship you are applying for to the Careers Centre Reception no later than 5pm on Friday 27th February.

Please read this important advice about the application process. If you have any difficulties accessing the internship descriptions please email careers@st-andrews.ac.uk.

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Good luck!

Top Energy Saving Tips

10919460_756276734463586_7398227301080169715_oThe results from the first half of the Interhall Energy Competition are in, with Andrew Melville, McIntosh, and Uni Hall leading the way in energy reductions, winning extra money for their hall committees and boosting their position in the Hall Champions League.

If your hall is struggling to keep up (or you’re trying to keep your bills down in private accommodation), read on for some tips that might help you turn the tables in semester 2!

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  • Try not to have your window open and the heating on at the same time. Ventilate the room when you are not using it instead.
  • Keep your radiators clear of furniture – it will absorb the heat.
  • Close your curtains at dusk to shut out the night and keep in the heat.
  • Turn your thermostat down by one degree – you probably won’t even notice the difference!
  • Close doors to keep the heat in.
  • Cosy up at bedtime and turn your heating down at night whilst snug in your duvet.

 

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  • Switch off lights in empty rooms.
  • Switch your appliances (such as laptops and TVs) off  and unplug them rather than leaving them on standby.
  • Towel dry your hair so you don’t have to use your hairdryer as much.
  • Try not to leave phones or other items charging overnight – a few hours are usually all that’s needed.
  • Watch your favourite TV shows with friends – it’s more social, and means you’re only using energy to power one TV!

 

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  • Only fill the kettle with as much water as you need each time you boil it‌.
  • Cook with lids on pans and match ring size to saucepan size – this will also cook your food faster!
  • Try to avoid cooking in the oven and instead use other ways of cooking such as boiling, stir frying, or grilling, in order to save energy.
  • You can use a microwave instead of the oven for fresh food too. They’re quick, easy and economical to use and they’re handy if people in your hall eat at different times. For example, jacket potatoes take just five minutes in the microwave instead of an hour in the oven!
  • If you do need to use the oven, get your friends round to cook at the same time, or cook big batches of food together and freeze what you don’t need that day. It’s more energy efficient to use all the oven space available.
  • Try not to open the oven door while you are cooking. Keep the glass clean and you can peek in when you need to!
  • When cooking vegetables, use just enough water to cover the food.
  • Load and unload the fridge as quickly as possible – try not to leave the fridge door open for longer than you need to!
  • Never put hot food in a fridge or freezer. Let it cool first.

 

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Your dishes…

  • If you need to pre-rinse dishes, do it in cold water instead of hot.
  • If you’re washing dishes in the sink, use a bowl or sink full of water rather than leaving the hot tap running.
  • If you have a dishwasher, wait until you have a full load before putting it on, and use your dishwashers’ economy programme whenever possible.

Your clothes…

  • Wait until you have a full load before using your washing machine – why not combine your washing load with someone else?
  • Use a lower washing temperature (between 30 -40oC), as 90% of the energy used in washing machines comes from heating the water.
  • Use a clothes horse to dry your clothes instead of using a tumble dryer.

Yourself!

  • Taking shorter showers means there is less energy used to heat the water.

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Remember to ask your Hall Environment Rep if there are any upcoming events or campaigns you can assist with – energy saving is a team effort!

Image credit: The Green Age