Charity Clothes Swap Event

On the 17th March, the CSR interns for the Leeds University Business School held and organised a charity clothes swap event at the Riley Smith Hall at Leeds University Union. The purpose of the event was to raise an awareness amongst students and staff regarding the wastage caused from fast fashion trends, especially prevalent within the younger generation.

The event intended to reduce this unnecessary wastage of clothes by encouraging participants to bring in their fashion items that were in good quality but no longer used or wanted. At no extra cost, these participants had the opportunity to trade in their used clothes and swap for new additions to their wardrobes. If no clothes were brought in, donations were encouraged at approximately £2 per clothes item, with all proceeds going to a charity called SKIP, Supporting Kids in Peru.

This event was highly successful, shown by the high turnout and popularity of the event. It was successful in promoting the sustainability and reuse of clothes by not only encouraging clothes swapping, but also in that all remaining clothes were donated to a variety of local charities in Leeds.

Easter Shutdown 2017

With Easter fast approaching we’ve come up with some suggestions on how you can support the University in reducing energy consumption whilst the University is closed.

Offices:

Where possible, turn off and unplug all IT and office equipment which can be shut down over Easter including computers, monitors, speakers and televisions, as well as chargers and sockets.  Please also ensure appliances are not left on standby.

Turn off and unplug all kitchen equipment including kettles, coffee machines, microwaves, toasters, electric water heaters & water coolers, dishwashers etc.

Heating and ventilation systems will be switched off or onto set-back for the Easter period, unless operational / research requirements require that systems remain on.

Don’t forget to check communal areas, shared offices and meeting rooms.

Top tip: If lighting is regularly left on in communal areas let us know by emailing sustainability@leeds.ac.uk. If it is suitable we may be able to add automatic sensors, therefore solving the problem.

Labs:

Where you are able to, please turn off shared and personal equipment, including ovens, gas chromatographs, hotplates, autoclaves, shakers and centrifuges.

Turn off fume cupboards where it is safe to do so. If you need to store volatile chemicals, try to consolidate them in a single cupboard and turn the rest off.  Keep sashes down as far as possible.

We understand that some equipment is required to maintain safety or is being used for research purposes and therefore needs to remain on.

Top tip: If you have inefficient equipment that can be replaced to deliver significant energy savings we may be able to help. Please contact sustainability@leeds.ac.uk with any suggestions.

Thank you for your support and have a great Easter holiday.

A week in the life of a Sustainability Intern

Over the past few weeks there have been some amazing achievements within the Service; from achieving ISO 14001:2015 accreditation for our Environmental Management System, to widening our reach of projects as part of our Living Lab programme. Some of these achievements have given us the opportunity to engage with an array of people at University, throughout the community and in surrounding areas. Some of my highlights of the past week as an intern with the Sustainability Service are listed below:

Wednesday 22nd March – Biodiversity and tree planting at Bodington  

One of the events that particularly stood out for me was the mid-week Community Tree Planting Event. With help from the University grounds team and Moorlands Primary School, we set out to Bodington playing fields on the 22nd March armed with spades, trowels and 420 baby tree whips, for a morning of planting and urban biodiversity.

We pulled up into the car park at 9 am under a thick cover of clouds, where we were joined by a group of 10 trusty student volunteers from Moorlands Primary School. We began by discussing the importance of biodiversity in urban areas, mentioning the benefits of trees on wellbeing, habitat growth and carbon dioxide reduction. We then went on to think about the specific species that live in and around trees that would benefit from the mixture of Oak, Hawthorn, Beech, and Blackhorn we were planting, with students successfully recognising bats, birds, bees, insects, and squirrels as some of the main inhabitants.

It was great to get the students thinking about the importance of biodiversity in Leeds, especially with the new refurbishment of the Bodington sports and cycle track facility 500m away, and the resulting need to maintain and replace some of those surrounding natural habitats. Unfortunately we didn’t see any bats like the children had hoped, however we did see birds and a huge amount of insects within the soil and subsurface.

In the end, we manged to plant all 420 in 1 hour and 20 minutes and we couldn’t have done it without the help of Moorlands Primary School, thank you very much!

Saturday 25th March – Be Curious Festival 2017

On Saturday 25th March, the Be Curious Festival 2017 took place at various locations on campus, namely the Parkinson building and the Michael Sadler building. The day was a celebration of the research taking place at Leeds University, highlighting its importance and relevance to not only the Leeds as a city, but also Yorkshire and the UK as a whole!

We thought this would be a great opportunity to display some of the engaging research that the Sustainability Service are currently doing to tackle issues on and off campus. We had a stall dedicated to our Living Lab programme which highlighted our upcoming project looking at food waste management and its potential use as an energy source. This was paired with information on recycling in surrounding communities, giving passers-by the chance to see how their postcode compared with the recycling rates of the Leeds average, as well as testing their knowledge on what household items can and can’t be recycled. Our other stall highlighted the student projects carried out under the Community Engagement Discovery Module alongside interactive activities regarding St George’s Field, its heritage and importance as a green space on campus.

The day was a great success, with over 350 people coming and visiting us throughout the event who had some great questions and suggestions for future projects! See below for some of the imaginative drawings children drew of things they’d like to see in St George’s Field.

Thanks to everyone who helped out with Be Curious; the organisers, volunteers and members of the public who made the day a success. We look forward to next year!

Leeds top five for student experience

The University has moved into the top five in this year’s Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey, from sixth position last year, to fourth this year.

Every year, the Times Higher Education survey asks students across the UK to give their views about their university on a range of issues, from the quality of teaching and how well-structured the courses are, through to accommodation and support and welfare.

Our facilities, activities and societies and services such as security on campus, student welfare and support all feature particularly strongly. In the survey the students voted Leeds third for its facilities, including quality, convenience, library/opening hours, shop and bar amenities, and sports facilities.

Creating a hub on campus where our students can relax and enjoy great food and drink is incredibly important to us. Our offer on campus complements that provided by Leeds University Union. Over the last year we have opened two new cafes on campus, PURE café and the Edit Room, which provide modern and inviting environments for our students. We also have plans to build on this great work by refurbishing some of older cafes later this year.

For more details visit the National Student Survey results.

School of Healthcare Sustainability Survey

As part of the School of Healthcare’s Green Impact Silver Award, the team conducted a staff survey to help understand the attitudes and views on sustainability within the department. This would also provide a baseline of information with which to work with in future years. The questions focused around attitudes, barriers and recommendations and 43 responses were received (which was almost 20% of School staff). As the staff play an important role in meeting sustainability targets, it is beneficial to make sure that they are involved in the decision making process in an attempt to making any initiatives as successful as possible.

 

Overall, the survey was well received and provided a wide range of comments that will be useful for the department when deciding and implementing new sustainability initiatives. The results suggested that staff who answered this survey see sustainability as important and necessary; with most defining it as minimising use of resources, protecting the environment and thinking long term. When asked how they believed they contributed to sustainability at work, the two most common responses were associated with recycling and printing, indicating a focus could be put on other areas.

 

Staff felt the department could be doing more to be sustainable, and provided an interesting range of recommendations on how to do this, including light usage reminders, collecting food waste in kitchens, encouraging more remote working, better communications and changing some working practices and attitudes.

The recommendations on how the School could be more sustainable also seem to be linked to the barriers that are perceived – primarily, school processes, working practices and attitudes, time, lack of communication and issues with facilities.

The most cited barrier that stops staff from being sustainable was time, with many responses stating they are too busy to think about how they can improve their actions. The results showed that the best way to encourage the staff to be more sustainable is to demonstrate the positive impact they are having by taking these alternative actions. The survey also showed that 70% of the respondents were aware of the department’s Food Bank partnership, showing there is potential for improved communication as it is a scheme the department has really tried to push. Email was by far the most preferred method of notification about what the department is doing in relation to sustainability.

 

The information gained showed there was a definite interest in sustainability within the department, with people wanting to be able to do more. The results will influence our continuing work within the School and will also be a useful tool to compare year on year progress and receive continuous feedback.

Jack Clarke & Tim Knighton

Style and sartorial elegance… a sustainable option…

Inspired by the New Year sustainable resolution ‘ditch disposable fashion’, a pop-up sustainable clothes sale pitched up on Tuesday 7th March, organised by The Language Centre Green Impact Team.

It drew colleagues and students wishing to renew and refresh their wardrobe with ‘new’ favourites. Similarly, the pre-loved garments were looking for new loves who would adore and carry them with a new swagger.

The boutique style space contained timeless fashions from the 90s to the present day which included spring and summer tops and skirts as well as formal and informal party wear. Plenty of gems from quality brands such as Whistles, Reiss, Jigsaw, Karen Millen and Hobbs including designer were on offer for bargain prices to the delight of the consumer.

Thanks to the co-operation of colleagues and students the whole event was organised in less than 10 days. It was a case of all hands to the deck with respect to organising publicity and ensuring there were sufficient quality items to sell. The funds raised were donated to the charities ‘Friends of Peru’ and ‘Survival International’.

A couple of tips for anyone organising a similar event – ensure there is something for the discerning male… a few disappointed customers resulted when they realised the stylish Calvin Klein shirts were for chic women and not dapper men. A wider variety of sizes is also encouraged to ensure all shoppers leave happy.

A huge thank you to everyone who contributed and shopped in the ‘pop-up sustainable boutique’.
(Kashmir Kaur)

Into University: Wildlife Friendly Garden Student Design Project

Into University: Wildlife Friendly Garden Student Design Project

The Sustainability Service have begun working with IntoUniversity Primary Student Council on a very exciting new project to support the students in designing and campaigning for a wildlife friendly outdoor learning garden on a patch of greenspace at the Beeston Centre. IntoUniversity provides local learning centres where young people are inspired to achieve, the centres offer an innovative programme that supports young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to attain either a university place or another chosen aspiration.

So far, we have run 2 workshops as part of the co-design interactive design process we are following to work alongside the students to create the final scheme proposals. We began with biodiversity bingo to get the Student Council thinking about the different types of habitat that they could design in their garden to attract a variety of urban wildlife. The students then worked in project teams and started to sketch out 2D design layouts. This included mapping out which elements would be included in their designs to create an exciting wildlife friendly space including bug hotels, bee friendly flowers, bird boxes, fruit trees, compost patches, vegetable beds, hedges and trees. The students were also keen that the space could also be used an outdoor classroom space which they could use when coming to the Centre for their academic support sessions.

On Friday, our workshop helped to develop the student designs ideas further with an interactive 3D elements workshop based on ‘planning for real’ principles, modelling 3D design from the 2D garden layout maps. The idea was to ‘test out’ design ideas for real and see if they really worked when modelled in 3D elements. We put our crafty creative skills to work with the children to create trees with sponge and cocktail sticks, ponds and reed beds from felt and tissue paper, bug hotels with lolly sticks and lots more! We were so impressed with how creative and diverse the ideas were and we think we have found some very talented landscape designers at the Into University Beeston Centre.

The next steps for this project are for the final design to be created based on the merging all of the student ideas and supporting the IntoUniversity primary and secondary school councils with a fundraising campaign to help get the project on the ground. It’s very exciting and something we are looking forward to being a part of!

Here are some photos from the workshops:

 

Photos: IntoUniversity students working on their designs in 2D & 3D elements co-design workshops. Credit: IntoUniversity.

Student Conference on Sustainable Futures 2017

On Friday 3rd February 2017, The University of Leeds hosted its first Student Conference on Sustainable Futures – Sustainable Perspectives on Future Challenges. The event highlighted the rich diversity of sustainability research and curricular projects, from students at all levels, across all disciplines.
With over 100 delegates and 40 student presenters representing every faculty, the day was filled with a medley of posters, talks and conversation workshops covering such topics as; using biomimicry to reduce the need for unsustainable textile dyes, integrating low carbon energy solutions for remote rural areas, analysing extinction rates in marine micro-organisms, and tackling social inequalities in accessing higher education.
To open the event Professor Tom Ward – Deputy Vice Chancellor for Student Education, delivered an inspiring introduction to the importance of embedding sustainability at Leeds and its place in everyone’s lives. He commented –
“This agenda will shape your future, be part of the sustainability society.”

Following a quick coffee and with twitter hashtags at the ready, attendees made their way to Parkinson Court where student’s posters, art pieces, and digital presentations were being displayed. It was amazing! Engineers were talking with artists, biologists  conversing with sociologists, business students debating with geographers. The room was echoing with collaborative discussions.
The exhibition was open all day, drawing in passer-bys with photos of Antarctic expeditions, videos of magnified crystals depicting Earth’s finite resources, and posters detailing some of the future global challenges we face.

A busy hour of oral presentations was next on the agenda, kicking off with sessions covering aspects of sustainability within Cities, Communication, Society, and Biodiversity. Ample time for questions from the audience allowed discussions to breathe and gave presenters an insight into the minds of non-specialists on their subject.

A vegetarian feast of locally sourced, low carbon grub provided by Great Food at Leeds, awaited the rumbling stomachs of the conference crowd. The delicious spread hit the spot and attracted hugely positive feedback (the brie and cranberry wontons went down a treat!)

Conversation sessions brought an interactive element to the day, with ‘Re(act) on Sustainability’ getting people out of their chairs and expressing the complexities of sustainable behaviors through performance art. Down the hallway, the ‘Community engagement within the curriculum’ workshop explored the benefits and challenges of sustainability in the community and peoples thoughts on how this can be expanded.

Afternoon oral sessions continued with familiar themes of Communication, and Society, but were also joined by Innovation and Technology, Food and Agriculture, and Governance and Policy. Such varying and fascinating presentations saw people struggling to decide which to attend! From the role of sustainable menstrual products for female empowerment, to present challenges in connecting Indian farmers, and exploring young consumers perceptions of fast fashion.

The awards ceremony, to celebrate the exemplary posters submitted to the conference, brought the day to a close. Head of Sustainability at the University of Leeds, Dr. Louise Ellis, gave a roundup of the fantastic work from the day and praised the diversity and delivery of student’s projects.

Professor Lisa Roberts – Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation lead the awards ceremony. Winners and highly recommended awards went to:

Most Original Concept
Highly Commended
Mary Loveday Edwards

‘The Use of Nostalgia at the Ideation Stage of Permaculture Design’
Winner
Clare Martynski

‘The Role of Performance and Live Art in Transforming World views’

Most Effective Visuals
Highly Commended
Katie Thomas

‘People and Nature In Harmony? Understanding a Consumer Ethical Dilemma’
Winner
Ana Perez
‘What We Know Affects What We Do – Exploring Fashion Sustainability and its Perception by Young Consumers’
Best Conference Poster
Highly Commended
Vishnu Sunil Kumar

‘To Tree or Not to Tree? Assessing Carbon Stock Distribution Along an Altitudinal Gradient in the Western Ghats’
Winner
Rizwana Alam 

‘The Governance of Urban Green Spaces: Challenges and a Way Forward to Sustainable Development’

Lisa concluded with a call to action to all who attended the conference, encouraging collaborative discussions, and to keep conversations in the fore regarding how research at Leeds must continue to address the key social, economic and environmental challenges of our time.

A huge thank you to all who were a part of the day. It was fantastic to see such a diverse turn out. We already looking forward to next year!

For more information on the Student Conference on Sustainable Futures, including posters and highlights of the day, please CLICK HERE

Campus Biodiversity Survey

Following the approval of the University’s Biodiversity Standard, the Sustainability Service asked for volunteers to help bring the organisation closer to achieving the ambition of becoming an exemplar of urban biodiversity.  To do this, volunteers were assigned a section of the campus to survey and to identify locations that may have potential to improve the habitat value to support urban wildlife.  These findings would then be used to start developing the new biodiversity action plan.

So on a cold but bright January afternoon I set off with a map, clipboard and coloured pencils to the Western Campus to survey the fairly substantial area around the Maurice Keyworth, Liberty, Charles Thackrah and Michael Marks Buildings.

The first stage was to use the Phase 1 habitat classification survey technique to record the current types of habitat in place, such as woodland, scrub, grassland, marsh, tall herb and fen.  The second stage was to identify and suggest biodiversity opportunities and improvements that could be made in this part of the campus.  For example, leaving grass to grow a little longer, planting hedgerows, swapping annual plants for perennial species which are better for bees, increasing tree cover, creating log piles for invertebrates and increasing shrub cover for smaller mammals.

I was impressed to discover that quite a few initiatives were already in place, including a log pile, bird feeders, a bee hotel and a wildflower meadow.  However, I was pleased to be able to make further suggestions such as areas suitable for growing creepers, putting in more log piles and bug hotels, and I even suggested one place suitable for making a pond!  I will look forward to seeing what developments arise once all of the surveys of the different parts of campus have been completed and put together.

Joanne Sutherland, SDDU

Bike Library Donation

In September we were contacted by the New Wortley Community Association Bike Library in Leeds to see if we had any bikes which could be donated to their project.  This scheme works with ex-offenders by teaching them how to repair old or broken bicycles, providing them with vital skills, a sense of purpose and a good focus. These bikes are then hired out to people across Leeds for a small fee, and those who cannot afford to pay can rent out the bicycles for free.  The project, which is part of the Yorkshire Bank’s Bike Libraries scheme, proved so popular that they were low on bikes and needed some more to be refurbished to add to their fleet.  Our campus bike hub had recently decommissioned several bikes from the hire fleet, and so we donated them to this great project which benefits the whole community and helps to provide a new lease of life to old bikes!

Here is our bike hub coordinator Steven with the New Wortley bike library team. We are looking forward to donating more bikes to this inspiring project next year.