We all know that climate change is posing a huge threat to the future of our planet and that we all have a responsibility to take steps to prevent it. As a Geography student, I have a particular affliction for this cause and I am keen to sing the praises of all the great stuff we already do, as well as push for action in areas where we can do more.
Fortunately, Hallam takes sustainability very seriously and as such, has appointed a dedicated team to address sustainability at the university. This comprises of both senior positions and also many people involved lower down the ranks. The brilliant thing about the initiative is that it has heavy involvement from students. One lucky student is selected to complete a sustainability internship with the university and is aided by Green Champions; staff and students within the university who promote sustainability improvements to their respective departments and pass on key messages.
How does our university promote sustainability?
A key part of bringing about any change is changing people’s behaviour – even if it’s in a simple way. Good examples include recycling and changing how you get around Sheffield. Although these actions are small, with over 35,000 students and 5,000 staff they all add up to a huge effect. No doubt you will have seen the countless recycling bins in every room around the university and automatic lights that turn off or dim when nobody is in the room or corridor. Collectively they contribute to significant reductions in waste to landfill and reduce energy consumption. The Green Champion volunteer network all help to put these changes in motion. If it is something you are interested in, it may well be worth contacting your department and asking how you can get involved – even if it’s just in a very small way.
Getting around Sheffield
Reducing city centre pollution is no easy task but one approach is to monitor how much carbon dioxide is emitted when staff commute to work. This is done through surveys and alternate means of transport are then offered. At the moment there are several commuting schemes in place which promote greener methods of transport. Some good examples are the Cycle To Work Scheme and free bike services for staff and students. Something well worth checking out.
Rubbish and recycling
SHU is proud to be a zero waste to landfill university. All of our non-recyclable waste is taken to the incinerator at Veolia just outside of Sheffield where it is incinerated. Now here’s the clever bit. The heat generated from the incineration process is then used to provide the energy to heat our university buildings! The best destination for our rubbish however is of course the recycling centre. That is why we need to sort our rubbish as much as possible and use the bins correctly. Only certain items can be recycled so make sure you check the labels and signs correctly!
By collecting waste food from our catering outlets it is possible to generate energy from a process called anaerobic digestion which produces biogas which we can burn for fuel. Furthermore, lots of leftover food is sent to charity projects such as The Real Junk Food Project which resells good food which would have otherwise gone to waste. They have opened pay as you feel outlets serving food and smoothies. Through doing so we have managed to raise £670!
Top 5 tips to help YOU help our planet:
- Use the recycling bins and sort your waste into the bins provided
- Cycle or walk instead of driving or taking the bus wherever possible
- Turn down the heating at home and save $$$ at the same time
- Buy food with little packaging to reduce what you put in the bin
- Turn things off when not in use such as lights and electronics
Simple really isn’t it? It might sound as if I am stating the obvious but if people just spare a thought in the back of their mind whilst going about their day, we can collectively make a big difference. Saving the world has never been so easy.
As a student, you play an important part in the sustainability of your University. If you would like to know more, or are interested in making a difference, please contact the University environment team at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or simply get in touch with the Students’ Union. For more sustainability news at SHU, follow the SHU sustainability twitter account (@sustainableSHU) or visit the website.