Living in a plastic World: Do We Need a Revolution?

This event was created and geared towards starting a conversation about the problems created by plastic. The University of Leeds in conjunction with Leeds University Union have pledged to become single use plastic free by 2023. Therefore, this event was set to be a conversation starter that could gather students’ views on the matter of plastic especially in their daily live and on campus.

The event kicked of with an award-winning documentary film: A Plastic Ocean. This film delved into the consequences of our over-use and overproduction of plastic. It covered the environmental impact as well as the health and social implications of our consumption of plastic.

Key Points:

  • The relevancy of plastic in our lives and whether it would be possible to cut it out completely
  • We discussed various alternatives to single use plastic and how you as an individual can make a change.
  • The issues of microfibres and using science to tackle the issues of plastics were also discussed in this segment.
  • Simple and actionable steps to help you on your way reduce your plastic consumption.
  • Ways to gain more information about the plastic waste issues.
  • Ways to make a difference in your local community and university campus.

The panel

The wonderful panel consisted of 6 students all from different backgrounds. They were all chosen due to their diverse interests in the realm of environmental issues to further diversify the responses and feedback through our discussion.

Giulia – A postgraduate student in the School of Earth and Environment studying Sustainability & Business and a Student Rep.

Mary – A Biology Postgraduate Student interested in reducing plastic waste in the Laboratories on Campus

Maddie – Postgraduate Student in School of Earth and Environment studying Sustainability and Business. Member of People & Planet Society.

Charlie – Postgraduate Student in the School of Earth and Environment studying Environment & Development. Runs a Plastic Free online supermarket called Life Before Plastik.

David – A Postgraduate Student studying Climate Change & Environmental Policy in the school of Earth and Environment. He is also a Student Sustainability Architect for Plastics, helping the university work towards the #2023 plastic free pledge.

The panel was hosted by Lulu Kariba the Student Sustainability Architect for Student Citizenship.  

You can find the podcast and show notes of this event below.

Transcript PDF

Sustainability Internships 2019/20 Open Now!

Are you excited about trying out new ideas and making a positive difference? Would you like to join a dynamic and committed team and gain valuable experience, by supporting projects which drive sustainability within the University and the wider community?

We are looking for two student interns to join our team in September 2019, supporting our work in delivering key projects to embed sustainability across the University. This is a unique opportunity to work within a large institution at an exciting time of change, where sustainability plays a key strategic role. For example, we have recently launched major Institutional projects such as #2023PlasticFree which will require collaboration across the University and beyond. You will gain insights into how to implement and embed sustainability into a complex institution, develop contacts throughout the University and have an opportunity to influence change on many levels.

Want to know more about our internship opportunity? Below is more info from our current interns; Rosie and Caitlin.

Rosie – Sustainability Engagement Intern

I’ve spent the last 8 months getting involved with many different aspects of Sustainability across the University; from the #2023PlasticFree pledge to student citizenship programmes. One of my focuses this year was on the Sustainability and Community Newsletters, I helped the team move to a new system and worked to improve the readership of the newsletters. I was also given the chance to develop my own project and created “Colour Hyde Park” – Community Mural Project. This was the perfect chance for me to develop my project management skills and creativity whilst giving back to the community and supporting local artists. I’ve also had opportunities to work with other stakeholders like local councillors and other Universities, including UCL. This internship is flexible and there are always opportunities to jump into. Recently I’ve been given the responsibility of creating a slide deck about the SDGs that will be shown at a global campus security network meeting!

Caitlin – Sustainability Intern

This internship has taught me a lot for future jobs; having never worked in an office before this was a great stepping stone from University to work life. My main focus this year has been the staff engagement scheme, Blueprint, giving me a “behind the scenes” view of how the University is run. Blueprint has also helped me see real, measurable change on campus and as an intern it’s great to make an impact! Another responsibility of mine is organising the Sustainability Awards. Having ownership of such a big project provides a huge learning curve for my organisation skills and creativity! Within the team there’s a strong attitude towards constant learning and improvement, giving me many chances to do extra training such as Equality courses and Excel workbooks. The whole team is friendly and happy to help with any queries, however small and silly (how does the printer work..?).

This year we are recruiting two Sustainability Interns from our undergraduate community to join the team for 11 months and support projects that deliver the University’s ambitious Sustainability Strategy. Our Interns will be proactive and creative in supporting key areas of focus such as staff and student engagement, plastic-free initiatives, event coordination, and embedding sustainability into the University curriculum. It’s a great opportunity to be working on sustainability in a large, complex organisation at an exciting time for significant change and influence.

Apply now! https://jobs.leeds.ac.uk/Vacancy.aspx?ref=FDSUS1017  

Deadline: 28th May 2019

E-Bikes – Available Now!

Commuting by bike? Thinking about it? Why not try an electric bike?

Mike Howroyd, from the Sustainability Services, faces a challenging commute from Holmfirth, which is 25 miles away from the University campus! He has explored all public transport options but the distance, cost and childcare duties made this unsuitable so he has spent the last 9 years commuting to the University by car.   

Last year Mike wanted to make a change to his usual habits as he explains: “three of my friends were diagnosed with cancer, which prompted me to look at my exercise habits and encouraged me to take better care of my health.” 25 miles is too far on a conventional bike and Mike discovered one of his colleagues was selling their electric bike, so he started thinking about leaving the car at home. “It was mostly a question of health: I wanted to get more exercise but didn’t want it eating into family time, so using my commute to be more active just made sense.” Having never commuted to work on a bike due to distance he wanted a realistic goal for himself, so committed to cycling in for 2 days a week.

 

Mike started riding in Staff Healthy Week 2018 “ It was hard work at first, but as I got fitter, I used  the electric assistance less and less.” Mike explains how the technology has improved in recent years and he notices a considerable difference from the older e-bikes he’s tried in the past “the electric assistance mimics the rider’s natural effort and pedalling motion, so it doesn’t feel that different from a conventional bike. It gives you just the right amount of help, especially for the last few miles.”

Mike was initially concerned about traffic and cycling provisions on the roads so went to his colleagues at the University Bike Hub, who helped him find a suitable route and kitted him out with lights and protective clothing. “My confidence quickly grew by cycling on the roads, I don’t take risks and I’m happy to get off and cross on foot when required.” Mike also visits the team of mechanics and volunteers down at the Hub who help him maintain his e-bike.

Although Mike cycles a little less during winter, he concludes: “The benefits of riding an electric bike are obvious: I am less dependent on traffic or fuel prices, I am getting some fresh air, so my well-being has improved, and most importantly, I am healthier than I was.”

 

Mike would encourage others to think about using an electric bike or even give it a go! Members of staff can hire e-bikes from the Bike Hub for just £20 a month to discover the benefits for themselves. The four e-bikes were purchased last year after the University received funding from the West Yorkshire Combined Authority. This was part of the Gold Standard Bike Friendly Business accreditation, which the University received in 2017, for the initiatives and support it provides to help staff cycle to work.

For more information on e-bikes, please visit the Bike Hub (between Roger Stevens and EC Stoner, open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday between 12 noon and 16:00), or email transport@leeds.ac.uk.

“Colour Hyde Park” – Design Competition!

Looking for an opportunity to show your talent?

Wanting to develop your creativity and artistic skills?

APPLY NOW for our “Colour Hyde Park” – Mural Design Competition!

The University of Leeds is calling on all budding artists, students, schools and community groups to submit designs for our “Colour Hyde Park” – Community Mural Project

Our project aims to improve the visual appearance of the area and celebrate the spirit and diversity of the community through the creation of multiple artistic murals around Hyde Park.

We are working with multiple organisations in the area to ensure our project reflects and celebrates the community of Hyde Park. We will be going out into Hyde Park with Leeds City Council, local artists and our student volunteers to improve the visual appearance of Hyde Park.

We want YOU to join us!

The competition is open for EVERYONE to join in and submit designs! Chosen artists will paint their design in Hyde Park with our support. 

Successful applicants will receive a £100 Fred Aldous voucher and support from a local mural artist throughout the process!

We are looking for mural designs that reflect the Hyde Park community and why it’s a great place to live, work and study. We welcome designs from individuals or community groups; such as voluntary and residents groups, schools and religious centres.

This project gives you the opportunity to show your talent to the world and bring pride to the community of Hyde Park!

DEADLINE – 17:00 18th March 2019

 

Here are some other examples of street art around Leeds to use as inspiration! 

Ursula with support from Leeds City Council. Mike Winnard as part of East Street Arts “A City Less Grey” project. Modes of Expression’s Mural in Armley Modes of Expression’s mural in Hunslet

10 Sustainable New Year Resolutions

1)           Join the University in cutting plastic!

We’ve picked our favourite plastic-free tips below to help cut your plastic footprint and support the University’s pledge “Single Out: #2023PlasticFree”

1) Explore your local markets and supermarkets to find loose unpackaged veg!

2) Grab yourself a bamboo toothbrush – millions of plastic ones end up in waste every year!

3) Pop your homemade lunch in a reusable tupperware container and ditch those single use plastic sandwich bags!

 

2)            Buy Fairtrade

Why not try and buy at least one regular purchase from a more local and/or ethical source? This could be from an ethical market or local independent shop such as a bakery. Looking for an ethical phone? Try Fairphone, a modular device built from ethically-sourced materials!

 

3)            Active Travel

Active travel is a great way to lower your carbon footprint and support your health and wellbeing. View our blog post for some inspiration from Sarah Dennis, who often runs to work with her daughter Bethany in the pram! Why not try changing one journey a week to a form of active travel? This can be walking, cycling or running! Not sure where to change or shower on campus? Check out our Sustainability Campus Map for locations of showers and lockers.

 

4)            Mindfulness (yoga or headspace)

Lotus Position

Try to give yourself time with your thoughts every day. Yoga and meditation are great ways to clear your head of nasty thoughts. Try keeping a thought journal and writing all thoughts down. If they are written on paper you can allow yourself to forget about them, this particularly helps when struggling to sleep.

 

5)            Leeds Bins app

Why not download the Leeds Bins App? It takes just 2 minutes and tells you everything you need to know about recycling, bin days and more!

 

6)            Meat free Mondays

Veganuary can be quite intense for many people so why not try setting yourself a lower target? Meat Free Mondays are a great way to cut your meat intake and carbon footprint! If you’re already veggie, try milk-free Mondays?

 

7)            Increase knowledge

You may be someone who thinks they already know everything Sustainability or you may be someone completely new to the topic! Either way, there is always new knowledge to learn! Staff members, why not have a go at our staff training module to learn more? (Visit “Teach”, “Organisations” and finally “Sustainability in Practice”). Students, why not explore sustainability in a discovery module?

 

8)            Share knowledge

It seems these days like Sustainability is everywhere; on the news, TV and social media. But we can all do our part to teach others about the Sustainability challenges the world is facing. Why not challenge yourself this year to teach one person a day something new about Sustainability?

 

9)            Volunteering

As well as parks, Leeds has some great urban green walks and nature reserves to explore. We also have a large number of outdoor societies you can join. The LUU Conservation Society has weekly events where you can explore areas in Leeds and help manage and conserve them.

 

10)          Buying fewer clothes online (and in general!)

Buying clothes online can lead to large amounts plastic bags and plenty of greenhouses gases from transport. Why not explore more of your local charity shops for clothes? Reusing clothes rather than constantly buying new ones is a great way to cut down your carbon emissions – plus you just find that killer bargain!

 

 

Good luck and enjoy making 2019 your most sustainable year so far!

 

New Year’s Resolution – Active Travel

Why not make Sustainable Travel one of your New Year’s Resolutions?

In autumn last year, Sarah Dennis, from the School of Earth and Environment, completed 1 year of run commuting to the University. This isn’t the usual run commute though because she brings her daughter along with her in the pram!

Her daughter, Bethany, attends the Bright Beginnings nursery located on campus, and when Sarah’s eldest child moved from the nursery to attend school, she took the opportunity to change her commute to become more sustainable.

Sarah was also looking to complete regular exercise but didn’t want it eating into her family life; therefore using her commute to exercise was the perfect solution. Sarah’s commute is 5km from Meanwood into the University campus and so far she has ran over 300km in 12 months from commuting!

Sarah explained how she was not an experienced runner beforehand “I’d ran the odd 10k but nothing serious. Running to work improved my overall fitness and led to me running a half marathon earlier this year, something I’d always wanted to do but couldn’t find time to train.” She also discussed the benefits around health and wellbeing “it’s been fantastic for my mental wellbeing, I can’t think about work when I’m running so it completely clears my head after a busy day at University”.

Like other people at the University Sarah was tired of sitting in congested traffic during her commute to campus and was concerned about the increasing air pollution around Leeds. One of the University’s Living Lab projects has been looking into the levels of air pollution on campus and in the city, ahead of the Clean Air Zone coming into force, for more information on this project click here.

Sarah’s advice for people thinking about commuting in this way “find a suitable route that is not too busy with pedestrians and make sure you have the right pram, with a locking front wheel, though you don’t have to spend loads of money on a running pram as I bought mine second hand for £20. A bike light or two have proved very useful as well”. It has been a huge learning experience for Sarah and something she has been able to share with her daughter “Bethany often shouts at passes by or tells me to run faster. I’ve also been able to teach her about nature and the changing seasons on the way as well seeing some incredible sunrises”.

Sarah takes advantage of the facilities on campus to promote active travel by using the showers provided in her department and leaving towels, spare clothes etc. on campus. Check out our interactive campus map to find were your nearest showers, secure storage sheds and maintenance facilities are located.

If you would like to speak to Sarah about her run commute and gain some advice on completing a similar journey, please get in touch via the Sustainability email address.

Christmas Shutdown

On Christmas Day 2017 the University campus alone used enough electricity to cook 15,004 turkeys – that’s almost 2 for each staff member!

As a University, we have a responsibility to lower our carbon emissions and the Christmas Shutdown period gives us the perfect chance to demonstrate our commitment to reducing our impact on the environment. This year, the Christmas shutdown period runs from Friday 21st December 2018 to Tuesday 2nd January 2019, a full 11 days! By remembering to switch off all lighting and non-essential equipment over this period we can make a collective difference and also raise awareness of the need to cut carbon.

On Christmas Day last year, we managed to save 83,853kWh more energy than we did on the  25th in the previous year. Although we did save this extra energy, we still managed to use 305,649 kWh which is enough energy to drive around Britain’s coastline 244 times in a Tesla!

This is what you can do to help:

Before you leave for the Christmas break, check all lighting and IT equipment is turned off, including screens and projectors; and ensure that all non-essential lab and research equipment is turned off.

We will tell you how we did in the New Year!

Happy Holidays from the Energy Team and Sustainability Services

LUU’s Blue Planet Exhibition

Last week, Leeds University Union’s (LUU) Leeds Community Project (LCP) hosted an interactive Blue Planet exhibition in Union Square. The team hoped to raise awareness of the devastation plastic causes in our oceans and environment and educate people on good plastic practice. Blue Planet 2 sparked a massive change in the public opinions of plastic; the team built on this and themed the event strongly around the show.

Tom Oladipo, LUU’s Community Officer, features plastic use (or misuse) heavily in his manifesto and LCP wanted to bring this to life in a creative and engaging way. The exhibition was built up by a variety of projects; a Blue Planet screening, a ‘fishing’ for plastic activity, LCP’s Plastic Sculpture competition and a table full of plastics factsheets! These events taught and tested attendees of the dos and don’ts of plastic recycling and how to cut their own plastic footprint.

In line with the collaborative #2023PlasticFree Pledge, LCP encouraged people to make their own plastics pledge, which formed a post-it exhibition in itself.

Environmental charity, Hubbub, from the #LeedsByExample campaign joined the event and brought along “Gorden Binnet”, their “Bubble Bin”. This bin is designed to encourage the public to recycle wrappers, bottles and cans on the go.

Recycling schemes vary between different businesses and councils so it can be hard to keep track of what can and can’t be recycled. If you want to learn more about what can be recycled in Leeds, head to the Leeds City Council Website or download the Leeds Bins App.

LUU’s plan is to take the exhibition into halls and community centres where LCP can continue spreading messages around plastic recycling.

Don’t turn into a Grinch this holiday break: follow our simple steps to make the holiday break so much better.

1. Too many tins of soup left? – Donate!

Give it away instead of it wasting away

Clear out your fridge and donate any leftover food. Why not give it to housemates or friends that are staying in Leeds over the break? Or simply drop it off at the FD Building on campus and  any of the university residences’ reception (non- perishable foods only) where it will be given to help others this Christmas.

2. Room a mess? – Take your stuff home.

A quick way to declutter

If you have too many things lying around that you didn’t use or need this semester, take it home with you or donate it to a British Heart Foundation donation bank (on campus and in halls) to help you declutter. Remember you’ll be getting new things so make space for them!
Give yourself the perfect Christmas gift – a nice clean room!

4. Shut down what you don’t need and save money.

Switch it off!

No one wants to come home to crazy electricity bills after the break. Shut down what you don’t need but keep a few lights on for security purposes. Treat yourself to a light timer plug!  Not everyone has control of their heating, but keep it low if you can!

 

5. Take your valuables home/ keep them out of sight.

Keep it out of sight. You don’t know who is watching.

Keep your belongings safe. Take your valuables home and keep anything you’ve left behind out of sight!

6. Staying in Leeds? Join in the festivities.

Take a break from revision (or procrastination)

It’s freezing out there, but don’t stay cooped up inside all day. Take a break from your busy schedule of procrastination – I mean doing your assignments… Join in the festivities and check out the annual #UniLeedsChristmas events!

 

Are you staying in Leeds over the winter break? Christmas in Leeds is an annual programme for all students and…

Posted by University of Leeds on Monday, November 26, 2018

7. Most importantly have a great Christmas break and see you in the New Year.

Happy Holidays!!!!

Green Gown Awards 2018

Green Gowns Finalists!

The University was honoured to attend the 2018 Green Gown Awards, having been nominated for no less than four categories! It was a fantastic evening celebrating the milestones of sustainability achievements of universities across the UK and Ireland.

Representing more than one million students and 172,000 staff, the Awards lead the way with their commitment to the global sustainability agenda and provide the sector with benchmarks for excellence.

Leeds were finalists in the categories for “Benefitting Society” and “Research With Impact”, winning ‘Highly Commended’ in “Tomorrow’s Employees” and “Total Reporting”.

Leeds’ nominations once again demonstrate the huge work we are doing across the University to embed sustainability in all that we do.

The projects winning highly commended were:

Total Reporting

The University’s core purpose is to increase knowledge and opportunity for the betterment of society, and Leeds has made firm commitments to take its economic, social, environmental and cultural responsibilities seriously.

As a result, its Annual Sustainability Report is a total impact report – a more holistic appraisal of the University’s social, environmental, economic and cultural impacts. It is full of case studies, commitments, progress, facts, and figures. Together, these tell the story of the amazing work Leeds is doing to become an even more sustainable university.

Tomorrow’s Employees

Student Sustainability Architects are part-time paid positions at the University providing support with student engagement activities, events, campaigns, and initiatives. They take the lead on delivering projects that align with the University’s strategic objectives and also develop their own ideas to increase student participation with sustainability.

Louise Ellis, Director of Sustainability at the University of Leeds said “I am hugely proud of what we have achieved as an institution – it is a testament to the hard work of everyone throughout the University. It was inspiring to hear from other universities on the night and I look forward to building on the progress we’ve all made.”