10 Sustainability New Year Resolutions

10 Sustainability New Year Resolutions

A guide for University of Leeds staff and students to make sustainable change in 2018.

1. Go Reusable with KeepCups

Get a vibrantly coloured KeepCup from any of the Great Food at Leeds outlets on campus.  Once you’ve bought your KeepCup, you get your first drink free and then 10p off every time you use it! Most disposable cups are lined with polyethylene which makes them non-recyclable, and even disposable cups that are ‘compostable’ require commercial composting to biodegrade. After just 15 uses of a KeepCup you’re saving energy, resources and reducing waste.

2. Get out more, get some exercise and see local wildlife

As well as parks, Leeds has some great urban green walks and nature reserves to explore. As one of the largest landowners in Leeds, the University campus also has a diverse combination of green spaces and woodland offering a variety of habitats for wildlife to explore. Why not take part in our annual Big Campus Birdwatch on January 26th, get a guided campus walk from the RSPB and help us to record the bird species on campus.

2. Get cycling!

Swap one car journey a week to walking or cycling to campus. Call in to our campus bike hub to enquire about bike hire, advice on getting started and bike maintenance. See our webpages for more information about the University’s sustainable transport schemes on offer.


3. Give time to make a positive change

Give an hour of your time a month to a make a positive contribution. There are many ways to make a difference- from getting to know your neighbours, helping a young person to improve their grades, befriending an older person or volunteering. Students can refer to Your Guide to Living in Leeds for tips on how you can get involved locally. Staff members can also make a contribution by becoming a Positive Impact Partner or School Governor.

4. Switch to fair products

Commit to sourcing at least one item you purchase regularly from a more local and/or ethical source. The University’s Great Food at Leeds outlets follow a strict food policy which ensures ethical, sustainable procurement of all food. Call in to a cafe or the Refectory and see what Fairtrade, locally sourced and great tasting food they have on offer!


6. Get digging!

Growing your own food is a simple and fun way to reduce your environmental impact and get fresh food all year-round. Call in to the Sustainability Garden and join LUU Rooted on Wednesday afternoons for an edible gardening session to pick up some tips.

7. Recycle

Commit to recycling your waste and donating any unwanted items to charity. Need help understanding what you can recycling on campus or at home? See our handy recycling guides for tips about recycling on campus and city-wide.

8. Become a part-time vegetarian

Via: http://www.meatfreemondays.com/

Cut back on Meat. Swap one meal a week to a meat and dairy free one. See Meat Free Mondays website for recipe tips and ideas.

9. Ditch disposable fashion

Via: ayearwithoutclothesbooks.blogspot.co.uk/2016/10/day-308-sorting-out-clothes.html

For your next clothing purchase, consider visiting a charity shop or a clothes swap event instead of buying new. You’d be surprised on what you might find! You could also consider signing up to a local sewing class and learn how to make basic repairs, meet new people and learns new skills!

10. Convince 3 friends to do likewise

Via: http://listovative.com/

Share your sustainable resolution progress; the easiest way to be even more sustainable is to double your positive impact by helping a friend to make the same sustainable change as you. Share this post through your social media and encourage your friends and colleagues to also make positive change.

Living Lab for Food Waste: Interview with CDT Bioenergy Students


Food waste is a global problem, and is becoming more of an important public policy issue as each year the UK throws away £13bn worth of edible food waste. This equates to an estimated 10 million tonnes of food and drink wasted yearly, 60% of which could be avoided. Where food waste is unavoidable, it is still important that sustainable food waste management systems are in place. This is especially important as the University is focused on creating sustainable infrastructure as a part of it’s Cities Research Theme and on leading industry research through it’s Food Research Theme. With this in mind, The Living Lab for Food Waste has begun to research and trial innovative solutions that address the food waste challenges on our campus, particularly catering waste from The Refectory. At the core of this project is the Centre for Doctoral Training in Bioenergy, where three students have been carrying out a feasibility study into potential technological and behaviour change solutions, including a University-wide ‘virtual food waste lab’ – a network of interdisciplinary spaces where Schools are researching sustainable food waste management.

 We interviewed these three CDT students, Hannah, Sam and Nick, who embody The Living Lab approach by bringing together expertise from a range of disciplines to work on food waste research. Their diverse academic backgrounds reinforce the holistic nature of sustainability research; Hannah, who recently completed an MSc in Climate Change and Environmental Policy, is interested in the social impacts whilst Sam specialises in sustainable engineering and Nick brings an environmental science knowledge base. Their research began in September and is culminating in a feasibility report that Hannah explains will “analyse which technology can be implemented on campus to deal with the food waste problem, to see what solutions are possible from a social, environmental and economic perspective.”

The utility of the Living Lab as a footing for investigation has been recognised from the onset; “It’s interesting to see how other departments are all working on similar projects, and I think without the Living Lab that could be overlooked and not utilised. I think with the Living Lab we can set up more dialogue between departments and hopefully build on expertise from the resources the departments have got. I think it will save time and improve results.” Although a relatively new concept for these researchers, the reality of a Living Lab – in that it brings together overlapping knowledge and skillsets – is clearly understood; the project encompasses expertise from engineering, chemistry, sustainable development and food nutrition. However, far beyond bringing research disciplines together, sharing best practice and streamlining resources, the team also recognise the Living Lab’s emphasis on getting students enthused early on in their studies and embedding sustainability in the curriculum, so that the knowledge base is there for future research. As Sam identifies, “although there is already a drive to get sustainability into the curriculum, we recognise that this usually focuses on third year projects; it would be great to get first and second year students engaged early on in the research they can potentially carry out in sustainability.”

“I think with the Living Lab we can set up more dialogue between departments and hopefully build on expertise from the resources the departments have got.”

Students have also been identified as crucial in terms of behaviour change; “We’re quite interested in trying to speak to people about behavioural change as well, within the waste hierarchy the first thing you want to do is try to reduce the waste, which comes under behavioural aspects. Trying to change things at a demand level brings in the social sciences as well.” There is also concern that without sufficient education as to what waste and recycling processes go on at the University, their research into technological developments might be less impactful; “We realised that the impression from a student perspective might be that the food waste collected is just thrown in a large compost heap, so to explain that it could be turned into electricity or fertiliser for crops might change people’s perspectives and then their behaviour.”

Hannah is particularly passionate about the opportunity to develop student engagement and education, as well as optimistic about the enthusiasm students can have for sustainable development if they are introduced to it in the right way, early on, and with sufficient emphasis on what they can do as individuals. “When I started I didn’t know that there was food waste being collected at The Refectory, I didn’t know that an anaerobic digester was an option. Students at the University will be interested in the sustainable solutions that could be put in place if they were only educated about it, it would be good to make students aware and get them talking about what research is going on. Right from the induction courses at the start of your studies students should learn about waste management and about their recycling options on campus.” The importance of conveying this message and talking to students is twofold, and – as Sam identifies – the benefits are shared by community and researcher alike; “Through some of the outreach that we’re doing we speak to a wide range of people on campus. Building on that skill of being able to speak to people face-to-face is important for engineers like myself to develop, it really helps us to get academic projects off the ground.”

One such area of academic research is desiccation technology. With investment in a desiccator, food waste could be reduced to 10% of its original mass, even with the exact same waste management regime in place. Sam clarifies the importance of this; “food waste could still be picked up by our waste contractors but it would reduce the carbon footprint from a transport perspective. With desiccation you reduce odour and problems with vermin so you can potentially store the food waste and then fill a whole truck when required, for example.” 

“Right from the induction courses at the start of your studies students should learn about waste management and about their recycling options on campus.”

Moreover, they recognise how the Living Lab approach aims for tangible change, and that theoretical understanding is best applied when it drives pragmatic change on an active campus testbed. What’s ideal isn’t always feasible and the team recognise this when it comes to the capacity of anaerobic digesters to deal with food packaging; “You’d need something really expensive, robust and intricate on site to deal with packaging as well. If there was to be an AD, it would have to deal only with waste streams from kitchens, as it would be difficult to implement bins round the site that weren’t contaminated with packaging.” Alternatively, Sam believes that using the campus as a testbed on smaller scales  – a core tenet of the Living Lab ethos –  is an attractive prospect in the short term:  “We’ve already got waste contracts in place to fulfil, so we think perhaps in the short term a pilot of anaerobic digestion on a small scale can prove that the concept works and then we can see if it’s feasible at a campus level in the long term. In terms of addressing the Living Lab goals whilst beginning to develop a proof of concept, a pilot scheme would be a good next stage.”

It is this sort of scheme which will be discussed in the feasibility report, a consultancy style brief with recommendations to the University based on the data they have collated and analysed. Individually, the multi-faceted analyses of the project will be explored, as Hannah confirms, “I will assess the policy and social aspects of food waste, Nick is looking at resource availability at the University as well as the potential carbon reduction. Sam will report on the technological options on site on both large and small scales, from anaerobic digestion to desiccation.” We look forward to utilising their research as steps are taken toward more sustainable food waste management. Every Living Lab project – be it focused on developing technology, encouraging research on campus or assessing our impacts as a university – is a step towards a more sustainable campus, one that pilots solutions at a local scale as it tackles global problems. In the process of conducting research, creating feasibility reports and strengthening research networks, The Living Lab for Food Waste will make us more responsive and resourceful as a University.