Guest Blog: Biodiversity Enhancement at the University of St Andrews

This week’s blog post comes to you from Nic Wells, one of Transition’s interns, as he introduces you to biodiversity at the University of St Andrews…

Biodiversity MapAs part of its sustainability policy, the University of St Andrews has committed itself to reducing its environmental impact through numerous practices, one of which is fostering and increasing biodiversity on its grounds. Under the Nature Conservation (Scotland) 2004 Act, the University is bound to promote biodiversity, and doing this will raise awareness of environmental issues within the university and the local community.

Why is biodiversity so important?

The biodiversity present on the earth make up ecosystems, and these ecosystems provide us with certain services. Some of these ecosystem perks are intangible like water and air purification, and some are concrete and economically useful, like timber production. Conserving biodiversity makes environmental and economic sense, and doing so can also provide aesthetic benefits to communities.

So, what types of biodiversity is the University working to preserve? How is it doing this?

Birds

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Birds are key ecological actors. Bird species maintain stable insect populations, increase genetic diversity through plant pollination and ensure forest survival through seed dispersal and plant pollination. Additionally, their migratory patterns and feeding habits have been crucial for environmental monitoring of climate change and pollutant levels (BirdLife International, 2015).

For many bird species that have been affected by habitat loss, nestboxes act as substitutes for the holes found in old trees (RSPB, 2014). Nestbox design – hole width and depth – varies according to the species it is intended to attract; for example, a small nest box could attract coal tits or tree sparrows, while an open-fronted nest box would attract robins or spotted flycatchers (British Trust for Ornithology, 2015). The University is in the process of installing small nest boxes, which are designed mainly to attract blue tits, but they will also provide homes for coal tits and great tits.

The University, with the help of a Postgraduate student, is planning to set up around 100 bird boxes throughout University grounds; these will be located in clusters in the arboretum, in the “secret garden” beside the Bute Building, in a space behind the Observatory, and in the Botanic Gardens. Their installation is part of a study that is designed to investigate the vocal communication patterns between blue tits when warning each other about incoming predators.

Bats

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Bats perform important ecological roles. Like birds, they pollinate flowers, disperse plant seeds and control insect populations. However, their contribution to wider ecosystem dynamics is threatened around the world due to losses of suitable habitat.

Bats typically prefer to roost in warm places during the summer and in cooler placers in the winter. During the summer, pregnant female bats form maternity roosts by congregating in a safe place to give birth. If they are disturbed during this period, they may abandon their young (Bat Conservation Trust, 2015). Bat boxes offer additional and alternative resting spaces for bats throughout the year. Like nestboxes, bat box characteristics such as size, location, construction materials and access are crucial to bat inhabitation and survival. For example, placing them close to freshwater, trees and hedgerows provides access to foraging areas (Bat Conservation Trust, 2015).

The University has just recently installed two bat boxes, one at David Russell Apartments and one at the Bute Building.

Wildflowers

flowers

Wildflower species have declined over the decades, mainly due to changes in land-use patterns. Wildflower meadows support higher levels of biodiversity and provide natural services, like pollination, biological pest control and insect conservation, which in turn benefit other fauna such as birds and bees (Haaland et al, 2011). Wildflower strips are relatively easy to establish and maintain. Wildflowers thrive in either seasonally waterlogged soil or areas with low soil fertility (Forestry Commission, 2015). The University is currently running a trial to observe the relationship between greater abundance of wildflowers and insect species levels at Albany Park.

Insects

insecthotel

The primary purpose of insect hotels, also called biodiversity towers, is to provide additional habitat space for small organisms, insects and other invertebrates. Often, the hotels are used during hibernation or breeding periods. They can be built from a variety of natural and/ or repurposed materials. The hotel stacks imitate natural features required by wildlife species like nooks, crannies and rotting tree trunks (Ulster Wildlife Trust). For example, dead wood provides habitat for beetles, centipedes, woodlice and spiders, and materials with holes act as shelter for solitary bees, which are crucial for pollination. The University currently “runs” two hotels: one in the Albany Park garden and one at the BMS (Biomedical Sciences) Building at the North Haugh, and it operates a biodiversity tower in the University Hall garden.

Check out this link to see what nest boxes, bat boxes and insect hotels look like.

Sources
Bat Conservation Trust (2015) ‘Bat roosts’ [online], available: http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/bat_roosts.html
BirdLife International (2015) ‘We value birds for many reasons’ [online], available: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/introduction/INTRO4
The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) (2015) ‘Which birds use next boxes?’ [online], available: http://www.bto.org/about-birds/nnbw/nesting-birds
Forestry Commission (2015) ‘Wildflower meadow habitats’ [online], available: http://www.forestry.gov.uk/fr/urgc-7edjrg
Haaland, C., Naisbit, R.E. and Bersier, L. (2011) ‘Sown wildflower strips for insect conservation: a review’, Insect Conservation and Diversity, 4(1), 60-80.
The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) (2014) ‘Nestboxes for small birds’ [online], available: http://www.rspb.org.uk/makeahomeforwildlife/advice/helpingbirds/nestboxes/smallbirds/index.aspx
Ulster Wildlife Trust (Year unavailable) ‘Building an Insect Hotel Habitat’ [online], available: http://www.bbcwildlife.org.uk/sites/birmingham.live.wt.precedenthost.co.uk/files/Insect%20Hotel.pdf

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.

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

We’ve gone electric…will you?

Wee Green Machine at Library

Ever seen our “Wee Green Machine” driving around town? It has been used by the University’s Grounds Team since 2009, and is soon to be joined by two brand new electric vans! Once delivered in a few weeks time, all the University’s mail and catering will be delivered with a little help from some clean, green energy.

To coincide with the expansion of our fleet of electric vehicles (EVs), three new dual socket EV charging points have been installed at the Bute Building, David Russell Apartments, and Agnes Blackadder Hall, and are available for all staff and students to use for FREE!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALook out for posts like these popping up on campus!

Although two of the six available charging spaces will be used to serve the University’s mail and catering vans, the other spaces are freely available for use by any member of the University community in line with our strategic commitment to reducing transport carbon emissions.

All you need to do to use one of the charging points is to register for a “charging card” to enable access to the charging facilities with provider Charge Your Car here.

If you’ve never considered going electric before, why not check out our interview with PhD student and long-term EV convert, Euan, to get the lowdown on what it’s like to drive one, and keep up to date on the latest EV news and reviews over at EV Association Scotland.

Waste Hierarchy – “The 6 R’s”

Everyone knows that it’s a good idea to recycle, but did you know that recycling actually falls quite far down on the order of preference for managing waste?

This order of preference is commonly known as the waste hierarchy, as shown in the diagram below. This diagram clearly shows the different options for waste management (“the 6 R’s”), with the most favourable option (refusing waste) located at the top of the triangle, and the least favourable option (rot – sending waste to landfill) at the bottom.

So how can the 6R’s help you reduce the environmental impact of your waste?

Waste Hierarchy

REFUSE to buy things you don’t need, and refuse to buy products that come overly packaged (like a box inside a box, wrapped in plastic, in a box…you know the sort!), or that you know will have limited lifespan.

REDUCE the amount of goods that you do need. The idea is to consume less, which results in less waste produced. Look out for multi-purpose products, and buy in bulk where possible e.g. buy larger sizes of toiletries, washing detergent, non-perishable food (pasta, rice, lentils), etc.

REUSE items you no longer need. Get creative and try to find alternative uses for your items, (inspiration available here and here) or donate them to a charity shop. For larger items, such as furniture, large electricals, and bikes, call the National Reuse Phoneline who will collect your items for free and give them a new lease of life.

RECYCLE items you cannot reuse. Look up your local council’s recycling guidance to make sure you are clued up on what you can and cannot recycle (Fife’s recycling information is available here) to make sure you are recycling as much as you can! Find your nearest recycling point, and use the banks of recycling bins located in all university buildings when out and about. Remember you can also recycle your glass, batteries, printer cartridges, and waste electricals, with more information available on our website.

RECOVER energy from your food waste if you don’t use it in a composter at home. By separating your food waste from the rest of your waste, it can be collected and anaerobically digested to produce biofuels and other useful products. Find out what happens to your food waste in Fife here.

ROT – the least favoured option. The waste you cannot reuse, recycle, or recover energy from will be sent to landfill or incinerated.

Follow the 6 R’s and see how empty you can make your landfill waste bin…and as an added bonus, by having less stuff in it you won’t have to empty it as often!

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

seasonalvegs

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

bike

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

Digital Thermostat and male hand

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

Environment Team Year in Review

Year in review

It’s been a busy old year for the Environment Team, so we thought we’d take this opportunity to reflect on what we’ve been up to over the last 12 months…

The year kicked off with new food waste regulations which came into force on 1st January, pushing our total recycling rate up to 73%! Once our food waste is collected, it goes on a rather interesting journey…click here to find out more about what happens to it after it leaves our kitchens.

nexus-r-shuttle-recycling-bin-signkitOne of many new food waste bins to pop up over the campus in 2014!

Once everyone returned for Semester 2 our first big event was Fairtrade Fortnight, with a whole host of activities planned to help raise awareness about trade issues including Fairtrade wine tasting, campaigning at local supermarkets, and a talk from a Nicaraguan coffee producer.

IMG_0608Fairtrade wine tasting in Fairtrade Fortnight.

Hot on the heels of Fairtrade Fortnight, 2014 saw the biggest Green Week yet with 35 events attracting over 750 participants – including the Principal! From tree planting to beach cleans, and swap shops to film screenings, there was plenty to keep us busy!

Green Week Pledge - PrincipalLouise Richardson pledges to make the University carbon neutral during her term of office.

This spring our five Transition interns surveyed various parts of the campus to record their levels of biodiversity. St Mary’s Quad and Andrew Melville pond were found to be particular hotspots for wildlife, so be sure to keep an eye out the next time you’re passing through!

Red Admiral (2)Red Admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta)

As students prepared to pack up and leave for the summer, StAndRe-Use were out collecting unwanted items and donations to pass onto students in September. Over a tonne of items were collected including household items, sports equipment, stationary, books, DVDs, thousands of clothes hangers, and a plethora of other weird and wonderful goods!

1907648_1412791679003714_120925503465276672_nJust a small selection of items collected by StAndRe-Use.

Estates was a hub of activity over the summer with three student interns joining the team to work on a number of projects. Find out what Dominyka, Daihachi, and Elena got up to in each of their respective blog posts.

There was also plenty to celebrate as the Museum of the University of St Andrews (MUSA) received a Gold Green Tourism Award for their commitment to environmental excellence and sustainability in practice. Read more about MUSA’s green efforts here.

P1060479MUSA – the latest recipient of a Gold Green Tourism Award.

As we welcomed new students to St Andrews in September, we also launched our updated Little Green Guide, and got to meet a lot of new faces at Transition’s Big Green Fair on a gloriously sunny day on St Katherine’s Lawn. The queue for the big StAndRe-Use giveaway snaked all the way round the library, and all 4,000 items disappeared within an hour, marking yet another successful event for the team!

1466148_761842487209824_2028672481353058614_nOur Freshers’ Week mural full of green pledges!

October was a particularly busy month for us with Transition hosting Scotland’s first Transition Roadshow event, welcoming fellow “transitioners” from across the country to network and share ideas. We also launched our Green Raisin Competition and were overwhelmed with the number of fantastic, sustainably-designed entries, as well as our achievement of making this year’s foam fight the first one to produce zero waste to landfill. On top of all that, the new carrier bag charge came into effect at the end of the month, and our biomass plant at Guardbridge received planning permission from Fife Council. Keep up to date with developments over at the Guardbridge Energy Centre site.

Rebecca Clark & Sarah Fenner - St Andrews themed MonopolyThe winners of our Green Raisin Competition.

November saw a new set of Environmental Facilitators “graduate” from our training course at an event attended by the Quaestor and Factor, Derek Watson. Our banana suit was also put to good use publicizing the university’s renewed Fairtrade status, along with the launch of our Fairtrade gift guide. Be sure to keep an eye out for news about Fairtrade Fortnight 2015 – can we manage to top the success of this year?

Environmental FacilitatorsEnvironmental Facilitators’ graduation event.

Finally, as the students all knuckled down for their exams and began to leave St Andrews to spend the holidays elsewhere, we launched our Winter Shutdown campaign to ensure we manage to save as much energy as possible over the break by switching off all electrical appliances and turning down the radiators. Our Environmental Facilitators helped spread this message to all our staff, as well as setting up food bank donation points across the campus, collecting over 150kg to donate to the St Andrews food bank to spread a little Christmas cheer.

Donated foodThe huge collection of food bank donations from our Environmental Facilitators.

All in all a pretty good year! We’ll be back blogging again in January, but until then…

Merry Christmas centred