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.


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: https://www.facebook.com/events/125198068160976/

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: ee17rg@leeds.ac.uk



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!

The Big Annual Crocus Planting

On the 18th October we will be running a crocus planting event, this should be a fun opportunity to get out over a lunch period and meet some of the sustainability team. The real importance of our annual crocus planting is to ensure there is a range of flowers on campus all year round, not only to provide for our bees but also to give some life and exuberance to the University through the bleaker months. The commitment to biodiversity on campus is evident through the beehives we have at several locations, but we need staff and students to help our bees and ensure the campus stays vibrant year-round, while also providing habitats for invertebrates. After a great year in which we gathered upwards of 95 jars of honey from University hives we are looking to keep up the strength and numbers of our bee populations. Take a look at our Biodiversity page for more information on our strategies http://bit.ly/2y0gEbE

The Big Annual Crocus Plant volunteer sessions are open to everyone, but also provide a great opportunity for anyone who is part of the Green Impact scheme to show staff participation and awareness of sustainability events on campus.

Equally, no experience is required at all, if you fancy getting out and about for an hour make your way down to behind Edward Boyle Library (near the Stage@Leeds building) on the 18th October.

Signing up on our Facebook event page http://bit.ly/2hIQcNj and let us know which session you would like to attend  – 12pm-1pm or 1pm-2pm  – by emailing the sustainability department at sustainability@leeds.ac.uk.


New Recruits!

September brings a new term, new modules, new opportunities to get involved in clubs and societies and a re-energised campus, ready for the academic year ahead. September also brings two new team members to the Sustainability Service, our interns for the next year, Rory (Left) and Jonny (Right). Here is a little bit more information about their first month at the Sustainability Service and about the projects they are working on this year:

Hi everybody,

I’m Rory and I have just this month started my new role for the coming year as Sustainability Intern.

Having just finished my second year as a Geography (BA) student I am now looking forward to a year working on something I am passionate about with the Sustainability team to bring new ideas and enthusiasm to the role and decrease the negative impacts the University has on the environment through a range of campaigns.

I hope to make a real impact by helping pioneer new campaigns that the University is starting out on, as well as bringing energy to existing work such as the Green Impact campaign which I will be running for its final year. The work I’ve been involved with so far has ranged from helping out at the Bike Hub to chatting to potential volunteers at freshers fairs. I’m really looking forward to the diversity and potential impact of my role in the Sustainability team this year.

If you want to contact me directly about any of this work, email: R.Hayes@leeds.ac.uk.

Hi all,

It has been a busy month for me at the Sustainability Service; I have truly hit the ground running. I have manned fresher’s fair stalls, fixed and rented out bikes in the Bike Hub and delivered induction talks to lecture halls filled with students only recently acquainted with the campus.

After 2 years studying on a Geography BSc degree, I am excited to swap essays for blog posts and newsletters, as I help the Sustainability Service with their ongoing aim of embedding sustainability throughout the University. I hope to be involved in a range of projects that try to increase the engagement of the staff and student body, so that the University can continue to cultivate innovative research and findings from the Living Lab testbed we all study and work in.

All the while, my approach to attracting students to what sustainability is all about is not to highlight what you are doing unsustainably, but to emphasise how easy and rewarding it can be to become an actively sustainable student and make a difference, whether it’s at home, on campus or by helping us here at the Sustainability Service.

If you would like to contact me directly about any events or opportunities to help us engage people with sustainability, email: J.G.Gleadell@leeds.ac.uk.




Reusable KeepCups and Water Bottles For Sale!


Reusable KeepCups

You can now buy a range of vibrantly coloured KeepCups 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! You will also get 10p off if you’re using any reusable mug, as well as a further 10% off with a refresh card. From a sustainability perspective, it’s a no-brainer; every minute over one million disposable cups are discarded to landfill and single use items (like coffee cups) account for over half of the plastic used in the world today. Most disposable cups are lined with polyethylene which makes them non-recyclable. Even disposable cups that are ‘compostable’ require commercial composting to biodegrade.

In contrast, the KeepCup ‘breaks even’  – in terms of the energy taken in manufacturing – after just 15 uses when compared to a disposable cup. This means every KeepCup used more than 15 times is saving energy as well as waste. There is enough plastic in 20 disposable cups and lids to make a KeepCup. Tested to 1500 uses, we estimate they will last at least three years. Over one year the KeepCup reduces water use by up to 90% compared to disposable cup. Buy your KeepCup from The Refectory or any of the 15 Great Food at Leeds outlets across campus. For more information about the cafe’s on campus go to: gfal.leeds.ac.uk/where-to-eat/ 


Reusable Water Bottles

It was recently reported that global usage of plastic bottles has reached one million every minute. This is compounded by the finding that 91% of all plastic goes unrecycled, despite plastic bottles being made from highly-recyclable material. If left unrecycled, the type of polyethylene terephthalate that plastic bottles are made from can take 400 years to biodegrade. So where does all this wasted, single-use plastic go? Based on current projections, it is estimated that by 2050, 12 billion metric tons of plastic will end up in landfills.

Student representatives have already taken measures to prohibit the sale of bottled water in the LUU, and are working to improve the provisions of water fountains whilst reducing plastic bottle purchasing. To further embed sustainability at the university, we wanted to offer a desirable, reusable alternative to plastic bottles, which could be filled up at water points across the campus whilst reducing the amount of single use plastics going to landfill or ending up in the ocean. The bottles we produced feature an intricate design of the iconic Parkinson Building and are available to purchase from all Great Food at Leeds outlets across campus.

So if you’re concerned about waste, then it’s easier than ever to make a sustainable change on campus; get yourself a reusable bottle and KeepCup and you can immediately reduce your impact and never have to buy bottled water or single-use coffee cups again!


Do you want to play a key role in creating a truly sustainable university? Do you have significant experience of working in a senior sustainability role combined with a proven ability to lead and manage others? Are you passionate about having a positive impact on society whilst effectively driving forward institutional change?

We are looking for looking for a Deputy Director (Sustainability Service). For more information and to apply please visit: https://jobs.leeds.ac.uk/vacancy.aspx?ref=FDSUS1007

Goodbye from Becky

I can’t believe I’m coming to the end of my internship!  This year has really flown by – in September I’ll be back at the University as a student completing the final year of my undergraduate degree in BSc Sustainability and Environmental Management.  This year has been an incredible experience and I’ve been fortunate enough to work on a range of projects covering so many aspects of sustainability.  I’ve certainly learnt a great deal and developed a number of skills along the way.

A highlight of my year has been overseeing Green Impact – it was great to mentor teams throughout the year and watch them achieve their goals.  I was fortunate enough to work with students and staff across campus from a variety of disciplines.

Organising the Sustainability Awards was another fantastic opportunity – I’d never have dreamt that I would plan an event of that scale!  I loved being able to use my creative side to design the awards and programme, and it was exciting to see my hard work come together after months of planning.  I was able to meet and work with so many people around the University, and the evening itself was a lot of fun.

It’s safe to say I’ve packed a lot into my year and I’ve got involved with as many projects as I could – no week was the same!  Some of the projects I’ve worked on include mapping biodiversity on campus, creating an infographic and website for the Easter Shutdown campaign, completing waste audits across campus and assessing the University’s travel data by completing the Scope 3 inventory.  I’ve certainly squeezed a lot in and I’m so glad that I did!

I’ll be back in September as a Sustainability Architect and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.  Thank you to everyone who has helped me along the way, I look forward to seeing you again.