Nurturing student wellbeing is firmly Rooted in University life

Nurturing student wellbeing is equally as important as developing academic abilities at Leeds.

And in Rooted – the University Union’s community food project – there has been considerable growth in the number of people seeking to volunteer for this pioneering project.

As an oasis of calm among the hustle and bustle of University life, Rooted supports local biodiversity, improves employability skills for students and creates strong links between them, the University and the wider community.

Speaking in the greenhouse of the sustainable roof garden – perched on top of the Student Union building – Kate Kirkpatrick, a part-time project assistant with Rooted, said: “There is an incredible sense of calm and wellbeing here, which students find really attractive. It can be daunting moving away from home to University. You can get stuck in the bubble of student life, but this is the perfect escape from all the academic pressures you can face. We have also been able to refer students on to other appropriate services, if needed, such as the Student Advice Centre.”

Second-year English and Music student, Liberty Anstead, first volunteered more than a year ago. She has enjoyed the experience so much she is now preparing to take up a year-long work placement with the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. Liberty said: “I come here because it’s so relaxing and meditative.

“I absolutely love working with Kate and the rest of the team. Everyone is so friendly and supportive. It’s such a nice escape from being sat at a computer studying. It’s definitely the best thing I have done here. It has also expanded my horizons, introducing me to other organisations I have got involved with, like the Real Junk Food Project.”

Volunteer drop-in sessions are staged twice a week, and are also open to staff and the general public.

Kate added: “We find this creates a really nice mix of people, from all sorts of backgrounds and age groups. People come along for as little as ten minutes at a time between lectures. We have loved having Liberty as part of the team, and now she is helping us develop our salad growing enterprise, which is very exciting.”

This success story is just one example of how the University of Leeds has achieved its ranking of third in the UK in the Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey. Find out more here.

Student Sustainability Architect update: Becky

Having completed an industrial placement last year with the Sustainability Service, I’ve really enjoyed working as one of the Sustainability Student Architects during my final year of study.

My role has been to support the development and implementation of a new sustainability engagement programme, and it has been an exciting project to be involved with!  The aim of this programme is to support Schools and Services across campus to develop a unique sustainability action plan for their area which enables them to make positive changes.

We’re currently piloting the programme with numerous teams across campus, which firstly involves meeting with staff to learn more about their area.  The next stage is to run workshops with these teams to conduct a materiality assessment, which considers how their processes link with sustainability and what opportunities there are for improvements, before supporting them to build a sustainability action plan.

Building a programme from the ground up has involved a lot of research and communication (there is a lot to consider!) but it has been great fun and I’m really looking forward to it all coming together. The pilot workshops begin in a couple of weeks, and it’ll be interesting to see what the final sustainability action plans look like.

It’s going to be very busy moving forward – as well as piloting the scheme, we’re planning the overall package for when it rolls out across the University, such as the design, how we incentivise it with rewards and recognition, and how what support we’ll be creating with online resources.  It’s certainly going to be exciting and I can’t wait to seeing the positive changes take shape across campus!

If you have any questions, please get in touch with me at

We Are Recruiting!

Looking to pursue a career in sustainability? Apply now for a paid internship with us!

If you’re looking to pursue a career in sustainability, our internships offer a fantastic opportunity to build your knowledge, skills and professional network. You’ll get a real insight into working at a University, as well as valuable experience in a supportive environment working alongside a friendly team.

For more information see the role descriptions below, and to apply, visit the University of Leeds jobs page.

Sustainability Engagement Assistant

Open to current University of Leeds Undergraduate students only

Are you a current University of Leeds undergraduate student with an interest in a career in sustainability? Would you like to gain valuable experience by supporting projects which raise awareness of sustainability initiatives within the University and the wider community?

We are looking for a current University of Leeds undergraduate student to join us as an Intern in a professional office environment and in an organisation recognised for its high quality of academic provision and commitment to excellence and good practice.Our Internships are designed to enhance your employability and as such you will develop key skills and experience for your CV, including; team work; interpersonal and communication skills; initiative; high quality administration and organisation skills; and project development.

Sustainability at the University of Leeds has a high profile and is being embedded throughout the organisation, driven through our ambitious Sustainability Strategy which sets out a vision for the University, and sees the realisation of a number of exciting initiatives to help underpin our student recruitment, learning and teaching, research and innovation and operational performance.

Engaging with staff, students and the wider community to raise awareness of sustainability initiatives across a wide range of issues, through social and other multi-media channels and the delivery of engagement events and activities, you will have the opportunity to be involved with supporting our work and in achieving the Sustainability Strategy whilst communicating our values.

With an enthusiasm for sustainability, you will have excellent communication skills and a good working knowledge of social media and other multi-media channels. Experience of producing multi-media resources and design skills, including the use of Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator software are desirable.

To explore the post further or for any queries you may have, please contact: 

Thom Cooper, Sustainability Programme Officer

Tel: +44 (0)113 343 0508, email:

Sustainability Student Intern

Open to current University of Leeds Undergraduate students only

Are you excited about trying out new ideas and making a positive difference? Do you want to contribute to an exciting new engagement programme for Sustainability? Do you want to join a dynamic and committed team to help drive forward sustainability at the University? 

We are looking for a current University of Leeds undergraduate student to join us as an Intern in a professional office environment and in an organisation recognised for its high quality of academic provision and commitment to excellence and good practice.Our Internships are designed to enhance your employability and as such you will develop key skills and experience for your CV, including; team work; interpersonal and communication skills; initiative; high quality administration and organisation skills; and project development.

Sustainability at the University of Leeds has a high profile and is being embedded throughout the organisation, driven through our ambitious Sustainability Strategy which sets out a vision for the University, and sees the realisation of a number of exciting initiatives to help underpin our student recruitment, learning and teaching, research and innovation and operational performance.

We are looking for a proactive and creative individual to support us in delivering our ‘making the most of resources’ strategic theme, including the collection and monitoring of data, supporting re-use and recycling programmes and the promotion of low carbon activity.

With a good knowledge of current sustainability issues, you will have excellent communication skills and written skills, with experience of writing reports for different audiences, with a high level of accuracy and attention to detail. Experience of assisting in the delivery of projects and of social media are desirable.

To explore the post further or for any queries you may have, please contact: 

Mike Howroyd, Sustainability Projects Officer

Tel: +44 (0)113 343 7375, email: 



Sustainability Architect update: Arianna

Sustainability Architect: what is it all about? Five months in this role and no two days are the same!

So much has happened since I took part in the Welcome to Leeds campaign back in October and it has been an exciting learning journey. One of the highlights of the past few months was the launch of SUS IT OUT!, the Sustainability Volunteering Week, in November; we wanted to offer a new, fun way to get involved with sustainability at Leeds, so we created a week-long programme of volunteering “tasters”. Organising a new campaign from scratch was definitely challenging, but it was a great chance for me to take the initiative, share ideas and work closely with the whole team to make the project a real success.

Sustainability never stops and I am ready for new challenges!

We are now busy planning new activities and volunteering opportunities for the spring and summer time – I’m sure there we will provide plenty of good excuses to take a break from books, spend time outside and make a positive impact.

Keep an eye on our Sustainability Volunteers Facebook group or sing up to our Volunteer Bulletin to make sure you don’t miss any news!

Have questions about volunteering with us? Send me an email:

Sustainability Architect update: Vaishnavi

The architect role I found is quite independent, where I’ve had a supervisor guiding me along the way by voicing my strategy proposals to the senior board, or working closely with me to discuss the feasibility of my ideas, but the majority of the work I was doing was projects I had designed for myself. I was given a lot of freedom, flexibility, resources and was linked in with valuable contacts who helped me accelerate my projects at different stages.

I really enjoyed taking up this one particular project, which included tying the cafes on campus to a company Too Good To Go with an aim to reduce food waste. I was initially conducting intense research in handling food waste by liaising with Living Lab project students and studying case studies of other universities to look at composting. which met with a lot of challenges along the way that were primarily logistical (for e.g moving waste across campus in trucks, hosting a composting facility on campus in a suitable location, etc.).

Halfway through, I realized that perhaps rather than looking at a solution to deal with waste, we could benefit from reducing the amount of waste produced itself, that is where Too Good To Go came into the picture. The app enabled cafes to sell leftover (fresh) meals produced on the same day for half the price before closing hours, which I imagined was exactly what students would buy into (healthy takeaway + cheap food). I drafted a proposal to expand the apps reach from the two cafes on campus already trialing the initiative, detailing the implementation from start to end, which my supervisor submitted to the board and got an approval of! Thereafter, I went along to train café managers to use the app and integrate it into their workflow; garnering an additional business profit of £1,000 for the company, as well as reducing a huge amount of food waste. 

In the next couple of months, alongside Charlotte (another Student Sustainability Architect) I am looking into setting up a Sustainability themed food stall on campus, to spread awareness and engage students with Sustainability related events throughout the year and what they can do to reduce their own impacts. In addition, I hope to solve the problem of food waste in the Refectory and other cafes by designing innovation solutions.

If you want to get in touch about any of the activities I’ve been involved with please email me – 

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


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


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


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.


Start a New Christmas Tradition

The countdown to Christmas has just began! We are all busy running around for Christmas. Shopping, decorating our houses, baking cookies and, the most exciting part of all, opening the little windows of our advent calendars. This year, add a new Christmas tradition to your festivities, a Reverse Advent Calendar. What is it? Why should you make one? Keep reading to find out!

A reverse advent calendar is really simple: instead of opening the door to a chocolate, you do the giving. Simply pick 24 food items and then drop them off with a charity or foodbank.  They’ll use them to ensure people in your community don’t go hungry this Christmas. There’s no need to buy any food. Before you head home for the Christmas break, why not check the back of your cupboards for any tins and packets that are starting to gather dust? Donate these rather than letting them go to waste!

You can take your box to Real Junk Food Project @ All Hallows’ Café or a food bank in your area.

What items should I select? Here’s a list to help you sorting them out:

  • Tinned fruit
  • Tinned vegetables
  • Pasta sauce
  • Long life milk
  • Long life fruit juice
  • Tinned or packet puddings
  • Tinned fish
  • Tinned meat
  • Packets of biscuits
  • Rice, pasta or noodles
  • Tea bags
  • Coffee
  • Jam
  • Soup
  • Cereal
  • Tinned Tomatoes
  • Chocolate (of course!)

Staying in Leeds for Christmas? TRJFP at All Hallows’ is opening its doors on Christmas day for an incredible lunch. Get festive and bring your friends to celebrate a merry, generous and colourful Christmas in good company! Find more details and book your place here:

Have a Fantastic Christmas break!


Meet this year’s Student Sustainability Architects!


Hello! I’m Clare, a second year PhD student in the School of Performance and Cultural Industries. My research is exploring the role of the arts in creating a sustainable future. As part of my investigations, I am beginning to focus more on pedagogy and forms of knowledge, so the opportunity to integrate sustainability into the university curriculum through my role as a Sustainability Architect is particularly relevant!

Sustainability is a very broad topic, relevant across disciplines. The Student Sustainability Conference is an excellent example of how breaking down the usual divisions between subject areas can pave the way for exciting and valuable collaborations.

I’m keen to share my enthusiasm for sustainability and hope to inspire other students with the opportunities that it presents.



Hello there,

I’m Vaishnavi Maganti, a final year student studying Management with Marketing. It has only been weeks since my appointment as the Sustainability Architect for the University of Leeds Catering Services, but I’ve managed to dig into projects that have a rippling positive effect on sustainable food chains whilst giving me the satisfaction of being a responsible citizen. I hope to bring down food waste on campus through innovative schemes that could range from coming up with feasible composting methods to creating a demand forecast that will help us to produce the right amount of food in the Refectory.

As a part of my role, I also plan to increase the University’s share of voice to the students by creating sound marketing strategies that reiterate the efforts going in to create a sustainable food chain; be it sourcing from local producers within 40 miles of the campus, serving only Fairtrade items, or distributing sandwiches weekly to the homeless in partnership with the society ‘Homed’.

I am really looking forward to seeing my projects take off and witness the strategic recommendations bring about a significant reduction in food waste on campus.



Hi all, my name is Rob Giles and I will be joining the team of student sustainability architects for 17-18. I am an MSc postgraduate student here at Leeds, returning to study from a placement in industry. I am very excited about working with the sustainability service this year, as my project is on making the campus laboratories more sustainable. We have over 500 labs on campus and as you can imagine, they all demand considerable resources and energy, quite the sustainability challenge!

I am looking forward to helping create some real sustainable change here at Leeds. If you have any questions or suggestions please drop me an email:



Hi, I’m Charlotte, I’m one of the 6 Student Sustainability Architects this year. I work with the Catering Services to find ways they can improve on current sustainability, and to ensure that they are maintaining the standards that the University is proud to have. Did you know there are 14 restaurants and café’s on campus? It’s a pretty big task to implement changes and improve on sustainability in the catering services – that’s why there are two of us appointed this year as Catering Architects. My focus is on procuring sustainable packaging, I’m hoping to come up with solutions to long-term problems. One of the initiatives you may have seen are our reusable UoL KeepCups, a less wasteful (and cheaper!) alternative to your cup of coffee.



I am Arianna and I am part of the new team of Sustainability Architects for 2017/2018. I am passionate about sustainability and innovation, in particular I am interested in everything about renewable energy technologies. After working for some years supporting green and social entrepreneurship programmes, I am currently studying for a MSc in Climate Change and Environmental Policy at the University of Leeds. From textbooks to real life challenges, the possibility to build a sustainable future starts with our campus here in Leeds and I am really excited to be part of this journey!

My goal as a sustainability architect is to be a contact point for students and encourage them to seize the opportunities of a sustainable lifestyle on campus, at home and in their professional future. There are many ways to get involved in sustainability projects and I look forward to engaging with our student community to make a real impact!

Campus Beehives: Honey Extraction Process

The following slideshow illustrates how we recently extracted and jarred honey from our campus apiaries on the laidlaw roof and near the SEE building. The finished honey will be on sale w/c 23rd of October but will have probably sold out by the end of the week! (You can buy these jars from the Ziff, Pure (Worsley) and Business School Cafes for as long as stocks last)


1. Uncapping the Frames
Honeybees preserve the honey by using wax cells to cap it. The tops of the cells, or ‘caps’, need to be removed to extract the honey. Most frames will have honey on both sides, so both sides needs to be uncapped. A double edged knife is perfect for this, and stray cells that have not been uncapped are scrapped away with a metal comb.

2. Spinning the Frames
Two uncapped frames are placed in the extractor in a balanced position, and the handle is spun for a few minutes until the honey has been forced out of the comb and dripped down. The frames are then turned over and the process is repeated so the honey in the other side of the frame is released.

3. Filtering
The valve on the extractor is opened and the honey is filtered through a coarse and then a fine mesh filter. At this point, the wax cappings are also placed on a filter to left to let any residual honey drip through. Not a drop wasted!

4. Jarring
Once the all of the honey has been extracted and filtered, it is separated into jars, a break seal sticker is put on to make sure we know that no jar has been opened before first use. Our UoL stickers are placed on the jar to complete!

5. Sale
The finished product  goes on sale at Great Food at Leeds outlets around campus and completely sells out within a few days!