This week, October 29th – Novmeber 2nd, it is Sustainability Week on the Falmouth and Exeter campuses. As part of a campaign to improve green living among students, events are running throughout the week for those interested in sustainability to join in with. There has already been film screenings and fairs, and smoothie bikes and clothes swaps are still to come.
You’ve probably seen the changes happening around campus like the increase in reusable mugs and charges for non-disposable ones and FXU have been working with the catering manager and sustainability team to ban plastic straws across campus. But how much are the universities doing to improve their sustainability?
Sarah Redman, President of Student Experience for Falmouth and Exeter students has been working hard this year to implement sustainability plans around the campuses. Speaking to her about this she said, “Sustainability Week is a collaborative project between both universities, FXPlus and the Students’ Union. The campaign aims to showcase what’s being done on sustainability so far and to encourage behaviour change whilst making our campuses cleaner and greener”
Now that the NUS funding for the Green Living Project has ended, FXU have been working on the campaign to promote green living to students. Societies such as Zero Waste, Engineers without Borders, Green Living, EcoSoc and many more have been taking part in events this week as well as throughout the semester. Betty Tsang, President of Zero Waste society said, “we’re brand new this year. Our aim is basically to make sustainable living fun and accessible to everyone, we have workshops, bring guest speakers in, we also do trips, socials and our event that took place this week was a workshop to make your own deodorant”
What many students feel however is that being sustainable is difficult due to expense and accessibility. And while there are small changes you can make like reusable water bottles and coffee cups, not using straws and taking part in beach cleans, even things like our weekly grocery shop are difficult because large corporations don’t feed into sustainable living. However, Zero Waste Society have said, “In the spirit of making things accessible we have loads of discounts that we’ve sourced like 10% off the refill store, it just makes it easier” in an attempt to make the lifestyle more achievable.
Other events happening this week include a Swap, don’t Shop! Fix, Don’t Ditch! event run by The Fashion and Textiles Institute and S4S project (Designing a Sensibility for Sustainable Clothing) where you can donate and swap clothes in aid of Cancer Research. Engineers Without Borders and Renewable Energy society are running a smoothie bike between 11am and 2pm on the 1st of November when you can use their bike to make your own smoothie.
Sara Abolel Ahad, Event Manager for Engineers Without Borders, said “Engineers without borders is a charity in London and a branch of it is over here and what we try to promote is that EWB is not only for engineers it’s for anyone who is interested in engineering”
Sara continues, “we have a plastic workshop where we’re reusing plastics to make a handheld hoover, it all uses engineering skills so we can teach non-engineering students how to use these skills but also by recycling and using plastic that we found at a beach clean that we did on Sunday”
Now that the Green Living Project has ended, the sustainability week campaign is their first step to creating a greener campus. The Green Fund has been created to replace it to support energy conservation, waste reduction and sustainability projects and/or events. Groups and individuals are able to apply for funding to support events or projects promoting and driving for sustainability.
What do the students think about how sustainable the campus is? James Brace from Engineers Without Borders said, “Exeter has solar panels and turbines, I think with energy they do quite well, they’re quite sustainable and they promote reusing things and recycling things, I think they’re improving”
Betty Tsang added that, “It’s getting better definitely, I’m a third year now and when I was in first year I kind of felt like I was tricked into thinking the university was really green and then I came and then it wasn’t, but things are changing, so even The Stannary the cups and stuff there’s a 20p charge and they’re selling reusable ones or you can bring your own mug”
“Even in the shop they have sustainable toilet roll, there are more things popping up” adds Nicole Mwananshiku, social secretary for Zero Waste Society.
FXU have just launched the Green Committee for ‘students interested in roles in biodiversity, energy, waste, marine and more being able to stand for election to represent those areas’ said Sarah Redman. Anyone can apply on the FXU website, nominations close on Friday 2nd November and voting opens Friday 9th November.