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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Fairtrade and Brownies

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

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

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

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

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Before..

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

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

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

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The result!

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

The New Sustainability Intern

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

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

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

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

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

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

Follow us:

Facebook: EnvironmentStA 

Twitter: EnvironmentStA

 

 

 

Park and pedal – Guardbridge to St Andrews

Everyone is familiar with the benefits of regular exercise. Most obviously, improved cardiovascular fitness, better muscle tone and increased fat burning potential. Not to mention reducing stress and fighting off low mood with those post-exercise feel good endorphins.

It was with these points in mind that I decided to take advantage of Transition’s park and pedal scheme for the duration of the Guardbridge road closure.

For those not in the know, Transition have provided car parking spaces, a new bike shelter and hire bikes at Guardbridge to allow staff, students and members of the public travelling from Dundee to avoid the diversion and complete the Guardbridge to St Andrews leg of their journey by bike.

More information on the park and pedal scheme can be found on the Sustainability section of the website.

I can’t deny that I did have initial reservations, so I made a deal with myself to try it for a week and go back to driving if I really didn’t like it.

One week in and I am pleased to report that I have really enjoyed commuting by bike and plan to continue to do so for the remainder of the road closure (and maybe beyond).

To encourage others to give it a go, I’ve addressed some of my initial concerns below.

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This was my primary concern since I had never used the cycle path between Guardbridge and St Andrews before.

Sustrans, the charity responsible for the National Cycle Network, have very clear maps of all major UK cycle paths on their website along with a wealth of cycling related resources that I found very helpful.

For those who are still unsure, Transition are running a series of led rides from Guardbridge to St Andrews for the duration of the road closure. These are free and open to all – so absolutely no excuses!

Energy levels

I was concerned that getting up early and exercising before work (a previously foreign concept to me) would contribute to my usual post-lunch energy slump.

In practice, however, I have found the opposite to be true. Not only do I arrive at the office refreshed and motivated, my energy levels are generally higher throughout the day. The cycle back to Guardbridge in the evening has yet to feel like a struggle and is, in fact, great for blowing away the cobwebs after sitting at my desk all day.

General hassle

The thought of having to pack a bag with my work clothes every morning did initially make me baulk. However, I was forgetting that I normally pack a gym bag every morning and this task was no more onerous.

This leads on to a separate and fairly self-explanatory point about being able to forgo the gym for exercise in the fresh air with a lovely view.

The drawbacks

The only major drawback I’ve experienced is a mild case of helmet hair. Of course, if you decide to take advantage of the University’s shower facilities this will not be of concern to you. Luckily, my team are very encouraging and have promised not to discuss my hair for the next eight weeks.

In sum, I’d encourage everyone to give the park and pedal a shot. I challenge you to try it for a week and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Words by Felicity Wild, digital communications team.

For enquiries, contact transition@st-andrews.ac.uk or tel 01334 46 4000

St Andrews – A Sustainable Open

Creating a Sustainable Open

This week The Open 2015 comes to St Andrews, welcoming the world’s best golfers and over 200,000 spectators for one of the year’s biggest sporting events. A big challenge for the organisers is making sure that an event of this size is as sustainable as possible…so how do they do it?

The Open 2015 venue, St Andrews Links, holds golfs global ecolabel, GEO certified®, and the event itself operates a “GreenLinks” programme for sustainable development, making sure that the natural environment around the courses is protected, that sustainable procurement practices are used, and that waste is disposed of responsibly. The GreenLinks programme is mentored by GEO (The Golf Environment Organization).

Visitors are encouraged to travel to the event by public transport or by car share in order to reduce the carbon footprint of their journey. Once on the Links, they will be reminded to keep to the official walkways to avoid trampling and damaging habitats, and will be provided with designated recycling points to allow waste to be segregated on site, diverting it away from landfill.

Scottish producers will be supplying The Open’s food, ensuring a sustainable menu by keeping produce local to reduce food miles. Items that cannot be sourced locally (e.g. tea, coffee, chocolate, bananas) will be Fairtrade to ensure that growers receive a fair wage for their produce, as well as a premium that is invested back into their local community.

As well as this, the management of the golf courses themselves will ensure that they remain important habitats for many important species of flora and fauna that have a year-round home in St Andrews. By tending to the gorse, heather, and grassland that borders the Links courses, their growth is kept in check to ensure a diversity of wildlife can thrive – from brown hare, stoats, and weasels, to skylark, goldfinches, and barn owls. Grass clippings and gorse chippings are then composted and given away for free by The Links Trust, returning this vegetation to the soil. The Links Trust also run a fantastic Environmental Blog, where you can stay up to date on wildlife sightings on the courses.

The commitment from The Open to deliver a sustainable event is clear to see. If you’re heading to the Old Course this week have a fantastic time – enjoy the local food, drink lots of Fairtrade coffee, and be sure to keep an eye out for native species hiding in the rough!

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Be sure to check out the map of the Old Course, which highlights where wildlife can be seen at The Open.

For more information about wildlife management on the Links, download the Links Environmental Conservation Leaflet.

7 easy ways to get active this summer

get active headerWith summer well on it’s way, and better weather (hopefully!) just round the corner, it’s the perfect chance to step away from the car keys in favour of walking or cycling. This not only reduces your carbon emissions, but getting active also has great mental and physical health benefits. It can be a challenge to break the habit at first, so here are some tips to help get you moving….

1. Make it social

Going it alone can be a bit daunting, so why not use a walk or cycle as an opportunity to meet up with friends? Instead of sitting in a cafe, get your drinks “to-go” and head for a walk around the park to catch up. It’s much better for you, and besides, who wants to sit indoors when the sun is shining?

2. Hop off early

If your destination is too far to walk or cycle, taking the bus and getting off a few stops early is a great first step. The idea of tackling long distances might be off-putting, but using public transport for part of your journey is much easier to manage – you can always increase your distance later on!

3. Use your lunch hour

Get moving and get away from your desk to help de-stress, rest your eyes from the glare of the screen, and energise yourself for the rest of the afternoon. Sitting for long periods of time isn’t good for your health, so why not invite your colleagues on a lunchtime stroll to walk off your lunch and do a bit of team bonding?

4. Be a shutterbug

If it’s hard to motivate yourself to get walking or cycling without a purpose to your journey, take along your camera and turn it into a photography project. InstaMeets take place all over the world, encouraging people to get together to explore their environment creatively. Participating in a Weekend Hashtag Project is a great way to challenge yourself, get inspired, and update your Instagram feed in the process.

5. Use your tech

If you have a pedometer, activity band, or even just an app on your phone, you can keep track of the steps you’ve taken, calories you’ve burned, and some even record your heart rate. Monitoring your progress like this can give you the boost you need to keep going on a streak of activity, and should help you recognise your achievements, motivating you to keep active in your day-to-day life!

6. Keep up with what’s on

A walk or cycle can make for a fun day out, and there are plenty of organised events that you can get involved in, especially with Bike Week taking place from 13th-21st June. Check out Bike Events Scotland for more information about events in your area.

7. Commit to a good cause

If you need some motivation, sign yourself up for a sponsored walk or charity cycle to give yourself a goal to work towards. The money you raise will be great incentive to keep going, and will be helping out a worthy cause. Pedal for Scotland have a variety of rides organised for September – so you’ll have plenty of time to get training!

 

Image: Walk and cycle sign

End of term – what happens to all our “stuff”?

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You’ve finished your exams, packed your bags, donated your unwanted items, and you’re ready to leave St Andrews for the summer…but what happens to all the “stuff” students donate?

Household items

10575351_1461008610848687_8140496115457494931_oFrom pots and pans to coathangers, stationery, and a wide variety of miscellaneous household goods, St AndRe-Use volunteers collect all these items from hall donation points and from STANDEN’s private residence collections. After some intensive sorting sessions (see above!), the cutlery and crockery is washed in hall dishwashers, then everything is boxed up and stored for the rest of the summer. Once students return in September, the items are taken along to the Freshers’ Week Big Green Fair where the thousands of items are given away for free to be used and enjoyed by another cohort of students!

Clothes

donateditemsDonations of clothes and accessories are collected by Frontline Fife, a local charity that provides services to help alleviate the effects of homelessness. Donated items are either passed directly onto those in need, or used to stock their Kirkcaldy-based boutique, “Re-Love It”, which raises funds for their projects.

Food

food_drive_cans_002_-_webAll donations of unopened, non-perishable food, toiletries, and cleaning products are collected and taken to St Andrews’ food bank, Storehouse, where they will be used to help local families in need.

Books

tumblr_n9iy64AQPN1sdo33qo3_500Whether it’s a novel or a course textbook, all books dropped off at donation points are collected by Barnardo’s and taken to be re-sold in their shop on Bell Street, raising funds to help transform the lives of some of the UK’s most vulnerable children.

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Click here for more information on what to do with your end of term waste.

Revision Tips for Wellbeing

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An important part of  leading a green lifestyle and taking care of the planet involves taking care of yourself. During the revision period, exam stress affects most people and can make you feel exhausted and anxious. These simple tips give you ideas for small things you can fit into your day to help maintain your wellbeing and reduce your stress during revision…

Get outside

Let’s face it – being cooped up in the library is no fun at all. Take a short walk outside during study breaks to stretch your legs and get some fresh air, helping to focus your mind and get a bit of clarity. If the weather’s nice, study outside in a garden, or schedule a walk along the beach with friends to get away from your laptop screen and give yourself something to look forward to!

If you fancy getting your hands dirty, join Transition for a spot of therapeutic gardening and seed sowing at Andrew Melville Hall on 1st & 15th May from 12.30-2pm.

Gentle exercise

Exercise is one of the best stress busters around! You might feel like you are unable to take much time out from studying over the revision period, but instead of giving up on exercise completely, taking regular breaks that include some exercise will refresh yourself and clear your mind – try a quick walk around the library, or doing some stretches in your room. Depending on what time of day you work best, fit exercise into your study schedule – for example if you work better later on in the day, go to the gym first thing in the morning to wake yourself up and get ready for the day ahead. If you’re still struggling, go with a friend and turn it into an opportunity to catch up!

Yoga is another good option, with YogiSoc running the following classes throughout the revision fortnight:

Monday Meditation – 7.30-8.30pm, The View, donation to charity
Tuesdays – 5-6pm, 136 North St, £2
Thursdays – 3-4pm, 136 North St, £2
Saturdays – 3-4pm, grass at East Sands, free

Get a good night’s sleep

Tiredness can exacerbate feelings of anxiety, and can make you feel overwhelmed. On top of that, when you’re tired your brain won’t be working at it’s best, so aim to get a good 8 hours sleep a night. Ensure you’re getting enough quality rest by winding down in the hour before going to bed – stop checking social media, switch off your laptop, and read a magazine or listen to some calming music to help you drift off.

Eat healthily (& regularly!)

Try not to give in to the temptation of junk food – make sure you maintain a healthy and balanced diet whilst studying to meet all your nutritional needs. Keep healthy snacks like dried fruit and nuts on hand to fuel your brain through revision, and make sure you’re eating regularly to help ease your body into a routine.

Eating healthily needn’t be expensive – Transition will be giving away free fruit and veg from their Edible Campus gardens outside the library on 29th April, so be sure to swing by their VegTable!

Have a hot drink…that isn’t coffee!

Taking a break to have a hot drink can offer some comfort when the going gets tough. While coffee is normally the drink of choice when studying, try to avoid having too much caffeine as this can ‘hype’ you up and make your thinking less clear. Go decaf, or try a hot chocolate or herbal tea instead.

The Fairtrade Steering Group will be giving away 250 free packs of Fairtrade Clipper tea outside the library on Thursday 30th April from 11am.

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Remember to look after yourself, and if you need more help battling exam stress, Student Services have some great resources available online.

Interhall Energy Highlights 2014/15

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This year’s Interhall Energy Competition came to an end at the Hall Champions League Award Ceremony this week. Celebrating the achievements of all the halls across sports, charitable fundraising, and energy saving, it was great to see so many committee members in attendance, fueling some friendly interhall rivalry!

Overall, the combined efforts of all the halls this year has reduced the University’s CO2 emissions by a fantastic 205 tonnes…that’s the weight of 34 male African elephants!

In order to achieve this, the Hall Environment Reps have been doing some fantastic work raising awareness for a range of environmental issues through a variety of activities, including:

  • bike repair workshops
  • maintaining their hall Environment boards
  • Fairtrade bake sales
  • green film screenings
  • food waste collections and composting
  • books/clothes/DVD swap events
  • installing shower timers
  • shopping bag re-use initiatives
  • “bring your own cup” parties
  • seed sowing and gardening
  • Facebook campaigns to encourage recycling
  • …and much, much more!

Each month’s winners also put their prize money to good use, investing in publicity materials for environmental campaigns, equipment for their hall gardens, and funding bike maintenance sessions with the student Bike Pool group.

The Environment Reps have been supported throughout the Interhall Competition by staff from Transition, the Environment Team, the Students’ Association, and Residential Business Services. On top of this, two student interns, Gillian and Bryony, worked to produce a “toolkit” of resources for the reps, and publicised the competition through the Interhall Energy facebook page, which now has a shiny new logo:

10404450_768810933210166_3441283677716847000_nSo, without further ado, here’s the roundup of all the winners of the Interhall Energy Competition 2014/15!

Monthly Winners

October – McIntosh Hall
November – University Hall
December – Andrew Melville Hall
February – Andrew Melville Hall
March – Agnes Blackadder Hall
April – Albany Park

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Semester 1 Overall Winners

1st – Andrew Melville Hall
2nd – McIntosh Hall
3rd – University Hall

Semester 2 Overall Winners

1st – Andrew Melville Hall
2nd – David Russell & Fife Park Apartments
3rd – Deans Court

Hall Champions League Winner

McIntosh Hall

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Congratulations again to all our winners! We can’t wait to meet next year’s group of Environment Reps and see which hall will come out on top!

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Useful links:

Introduction to the Interhall Energy Competition & Hall Champions League

Top Energy Saving Tips

Why join a car club?

Why join a car club_

St Andrews has yet another claim to fame – hosting Scotland’s very first electric car club!

The club will be run by E-Car, with a fleet consisting of 8 Renault ZOEs and 2 Renault Kangoo vans available to pick up from charging locations at the Gateway building, Agnes Blackadder Hall, and David Russell Apartments, with more charging locations in the pipeline.

But what makes joining a car club better than owning your own car?

Convenience & Flexibility

Car clubs increase mobility by offering all members of the community the convenience of a car without the stresses that come with owning one. Hiring a car means there is less to worry about – the hourly fee covers everything including insurance, servicing, cleaning, maintenance, repairs, and recharging. To make journey planning even easier, E-Car’s booking system allows you to book the vehicles at a moment’s notice, or up to 2 months in advance. You don’t even need to collect a key – just wave your membership card over the reader on the windscreen to unlock the car and get going!

Saving money

Using a car club is almost always cheaper than owning, insuring, and maintaining your own car. With E-Car you pay a one-off membership fee of £50, then pay as you go depending on your usage of the vehicles – from £4.50 an hour for the ZOEs, up to £50 a day for the Kangoos. By only paying for the time that you need, you free up your budget to spend on something more exciting!

Lowering carbon emissions

It is estimated that each car club car ultimately replaces 24 privately owned vehicles on UK streets. Not only will this go a long way towards helping tackle St Andrews’ traffic and parking problems, but by replacing the cars with zero-emission electric vehicles, your personal travel carbon footprint will be lowered too.

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Renault ZOE and Renault Kangoo – the two models that make up the 10-car fleet.

So there you have it – with an average range of between 65-90 miles per charge, there’s no excuse not to go and explore Fife and beyond! If you’re travelling further afield,  check out Charge Your Car for a full list of charging points, which will enable you to charge on the go, with rapid charge points reaching 80% charge in just 30 minutes!

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Got more questions? Check out E-Car’s FAQ page.

Image credit: E-Car Club St Andrews, Renault.