How to reduce your end of term waste

Are you moving out this year and worrying about how you’re going to fit everything into the car home? Here at Bristol there are loads of options to get rid of your unwanted stuff without harming the planet. Read our  guide to help tackle your end of year clutter.

Got an armchair or any other furniture that you bought but can’t take home? Avoid unwanted removal fees from your landlord and donate it to the British Heart Foundation! You can do this directly or by getting in touch with the UoB Sustainability department at: sustainability-estates@bristol.ac.uk who will help arrange a collection. If you can’t donate your furniture then Bristol Waste Company also offer collections to recycle large items like furniture, find more info on their website: https://bristolwastecompany.co.uk/household/student-move-out/

If you’ve got any smaller items such as books, clothes, or small appliances that you no longer need then why not drop them off at one of our Big Give Donation Points across campus? Donation points include: Senate House, the Richmond Building, and Biomedical Sciences, as well as most University owned halls. Last year the University donated 42 tonnes of reusable goods generating over £73,000 for the British Heart foundation! Help us beat this total this year and get rid of some of that unwanted clutter in the process.

Last but not least if you’ve got any unwanted sealed food such as tinned or dried items when you move out why not donate them to a local food bank? This will help to not only minimize waste and tackle the climate crisis but also help local families in need. There are donation points across campus as well as in most major supermarkets, for more information on how to get involved visit https://www.trusselltrust.org/.

If you’re a member of staff and are responsible for clearing an area on campus, please refer to our end of term clear-out guide.

How students are helping local organisations go green

Climate Action Bristol (CAB) is an innovative project placing University of Bristol student volunteers with local organisations to develop and implement Climate Action Plans.  

The volunteers help assess the sustainability of an organisation with the aid of the University’s bespoke on-line tool, supporting organisations to explore their impacts and therefore set out a wide range of actions, from energy use through to advocacy, to take climate action. The project, led by Bristol Hub and the University Sustainability Department, began in October 2021. The initial phase focused on developing action plans, before moving on to delivery.  

So far, students have partnered with a range of Bristol-based organisations including Boomsatsuma, Unique Voice, St Peters Hospice, Voscur, Acta Theatre, South Gloucestershire and Stroud College, Beyond the Bean, Watershed and Wecil.  

The first cohort of Climate Action Bristol volunteers are now coming to the end of their projects and recently reflected on their learnings and achievements through a showcase event, organised by BristolHub.  

Izzey Bowker is a student volunteer working closely with creative education center, Boomsatsuma. Izzey and teammates Madleen Grohganz and Daniel Walsh found conducting a travel survey to be the best starting point.  “We wanted to find out what improvements could be made to make it more sustainable to get between their numerous locations,” Izzey explained. “We uncovered students are unable to access student discounts on bus tickets and are put off cycling by a lack of facilities, which are things that Boomsatsuma can now address.” 

When trying to reduce an organisation’s emissions, the energy efficiency of the building is often paramount. Shivali Agrawal, along with teammates Poppy Pearce and Christabel Hamer, worked with local independent cinema and social enterprise, Watershed, to explore the potential costs of the changes required to make the building more energy efficient.  

“We looked at things like the windows and insultation, and assessed the impact and costs, to include the infnormation in an application for a Green Business Grant through West of England Combined Authority” Shivali shared. 

Some students discovered that developing a greener pathway is often not so straightforward due to financial or property constrictions.  “Unique Voice has the challenge of being situated in a rented office, with little control over things like lighting and heating,” Alice Brion, student volunteer, highlighted. “Our recommendations focused on creating learning opportunities for staff, publishing their climate action plans and building their local network to share best practice.” 

Working with independent living charity, Wecil, Hannah Munro discovered the importance of making sustainability inclusive.  “Our focus was on engagement. We brought employees on the journey, as well as looking at community engagement through workshops and publishing of the sustainability report. We also reviewed and expanded their ‘Green Team’ objectives, making its statement and goals inclusive for everyone.” 

Oliver Jones, Director at Acta Community Theatre, said the process of working with students enabled the Theatre to work more strategically.  “We weren’t sure at first what we wanted the students to focus on, other than improving what we do doing around the environment to support with funding applications. After the student’s audit, we developed a plan that includes short term and long-term actions around electricity, water, heating consumption and our website content. Dan, Syndy and Gillian each focused on distinct aspects of the plan, depending on their areas of interest, which worked really well.”  

Martin Wiles, Head of Sustainability at University of Bristol reflected on the showcase event, explaining that sustainability is not an easy path to follow.  “Learning to work around the obstacles you uncover is really valuable. Challenges will arise whether it’s a big, small or rich organisation. It’s not an easy path to follow, but it is essential to meet the City’s 2030 net zero carbon target.” 

 

If you are a student interested in working with a local organisation to help develop its Climate Action Plan register your interest for 2022/23 volunteering here.  

If you’re a local business looking for support with writing a Carbon/Climate Action Plan, please email Sorcha Young at manager@bristolhub.org. 

 

Thanks to the following volunteer teams: 

Watershed 

  • Shivali Agrawal 
  • Poppy Pearce 
  • Christabel Hamer 

BoomSatsuma 

  • Izzie Bowker 
  • Madleen Grohganz 
  • Daniel Walsh 

South Gloucestershire and Stroud College 

  • Mitchell Norey 
  • Zara Shilakis 
  • Eliza Joynson 

Acta Theatre 

  • Dan Green 
  • Gillian Capen
  • Syndy Liew 

WECIL 

  • Hannah Munro 
  • Holly MacDonald 
  • Tayyab Jawed 

Unique Voice 

  • Alice Brion 
  • George Mayenga 

Voscur 

  • Ahra Nam 
  • Oliwia Kuden 
  • Miles Fenner 

St Peters Hospice 

  • Holly Ward 
  • Micol Greta Giannelli 
  • Rowan Browning 

Beyond the Bean 

  • Amy Cotterell 
  • Stephen Pearson 

Gardens & Grounds say ‘no’ to the mow

No Mo May at Royal Fort Gardens
More than 10 sites across campus, including Royal Fort Gardens (pictured) are having their mowing relaxed to let the wildflowers in the lawn bloom throughout the month.

No Mow May is well underway at Bristol University with our Gardens & Grounds team joining legions of gardeners across the country to let wildflowers in lawns bloom, providing a feast of nectar for our hungry bees, butterflies, and wildlife.

More than 10 sites across campus, including Royal Fort Gardens, Queens Building, Arts and Social Sciences , Cantock’s Close, various halls of residence and small pockets of green will have their mowing relaxed to let the wildflowers in the lawn bloom throughout the month.

Mowing less saves wildlife

By creating these mosaic habitats in our cities and urban gardens, we can supplement the sharp decline of species rich meadows, which have an estimated loss of 97% since the 1930s, in our countryside and rural areas. University of Bristol’s Urban Pollinator research, led by Jane Memmott and Kath Baldock, has shown urban spaces are a vital source of nectar offsetting this decline. Also, recent findings looking closely at nectar quality by Ecologist Nicholas Tew highlights the pivotal role that species diversity has in supporting pollinators and promoting biodiversity in urban areas across our country. Put simply, mowing less saves wildlife.

Several of these no mow areas on campus will also continue to be managed carefully by our Grounds team and left to continue blooming through June and knee high through July, as meadows form a vital habitat for our campus’s wildlife and city centre over the summer months.

Our Hedgehog Friendly Campus team are also working in partnership with Gardens & Grounds as No Mow May is an important part of their work encouraging greater biodiversity on campus.

Put away your lawnmower on May 1st

Plantlife’s #NoMowMay campaign started in 2018 and the message is simple. Put away your lawnmower on May 1st or leave some patches of grass unmown in your own garden to save wildlife.

Every Flower Counts

At the end of the month, PlantLife invites us all to join in the nationwide Every Flower Counts survey. By counting how many flowers there are in a random square metre of lawn, you’ll receive a Personal Nectar Score, which tells us how much nectar the flowers producing and how many bees they’ll feed. See the PlantLife website for how to take part, either at home on your own lawn or in one of our #NoMowMay locations on campus.

Plogging our way to Climate Emergency Day of Action

Each year the Student Living Officers and the Student Union organise a day of action to engage and galvanise students with the climate crisis. The day is scheduled into student calendars and people from around the University, and local community, get involved to host talks, share knowledge and run activities. 

This year, Climate Emergency Day of Action took place on Friday 29 April. The headline events included a talk from Tom Heap (creator and presenter of BBC Radio’s climate change podcast ’39 Ways to Save the Planet’), a People’s Assembly, as well as an art exhibition ‘Creative Perspectives on the Climate Emergency’ hosted by Cabot Institute. There was also an array of vegan food stalls, local sellers and panel discussions with student activists and politicians including Carla Denyer, co-leader of the Green Party. 

After closely following and supporting the work of student and ‘plogger’, Vivek Gurav, the Sustainability Department decided to join forces with the inspiring environmentalist and held a mass plog – a ‘litter-picking-while-jogging’ session, for those who are yet to catch on to the craze! 

The Department also teamed up with Simone Jacobs, Horticultural Supervisor and Hedgehog Friendly Campus Champion, to deliver a message to students about the importance of taking waste out of our environment.  

Around 15 volunteers joined on the day. Volunteers split into two groups, each following one of two routes through and around campus, starting at Senate House and finishing at the University’s Student Union. The volunteers collected, sorted, and recycled four large bags of litter into the correct bins and shared that they were shocked by the litter they found outside of the main campus and that a big contributor is cigarette butts, which do not easily breakdown when left on the ground and pose a hazard for small wildlife.  

The Sustainability Department would like to thank all of the volunteers that joined on the day, as well as to Vivek for helping to organise and promote the event. 

Sign up for the Sustainability newsletter  to learn about similar events happening in the future. 

Follow Vivek’s plogging journey on Instagram: @theplogman. 

Digital Together: Improving digital inclusion

A partnership between educational and digital organisations, Creative Tuition Collective, Digilocal, Blackmoore Ricotech and the University of Bristol, is providing computer access to local communities across the City.

The initiative, named Digital Together, was born out of the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought into focus the digital disparity faced by around 1 million children, young adults, elderly and their families across the UK. Without access to a device or connectivity at home, approximately 10,000 young students faced educational exclusion in Bristol whilst receiving lessons at home.

In 2021, the University donated a total of 17 surplus computers to community organisations to support those with reduced digital accessibility. Initially, five computers were donated to a café at Barton Hill Settlement to serve those in the Easton area. Tracey Massey, worker at the Settlement, said: “The computers are available in our new and improved Café – people have access on a daily basis, allowing them to connect with the digital world and helping them to navigate the internet in a safe and secure environment, using our free WIFI and facilities. We are aiming to provide IT assistance for service users on a regular basis.”

The second set were distributed to local organisation, Babbasa, which supports underrepresented young people with their career aspirations. Poku Osei, CEO of Babbasa, said “The computers played an invaluable role, enabling learning during a particularly difficult time. Both Babbasa staff and service users are really grateful for the gift and hope there will be other opportunities to collaborate again in the near future”.

The third set was allocated to the Atamai Tutor Centre to support free English, Maths and Science tuition and other work within the Easton community. Finally, computers were donated to the local Somali Centre to distribute the desktops to households that can’t afford to buy a computer.

Digital exclusion remains a feature of poverty and lower grade attainment. Dozens of young people are having to use their mobile phones to access schoolwork and resources for further learning, leading to them experiencing challenges in participating in their education and achieving good grades. To ensure there are no additional costs to the recipients of the computers, Digilocal installed essential software packages to each device. Thanks to the project, countless people are now empowered to learn, develop and achieve through digital activity. Digital Together hopes to continue to process and donate computers to local community organisations to help more people be digitally active, no matter their age, background, or postcode.

For more information please contact sustainability-estates@bristol.ac.uk.

Supporting a circular economy through charitable donations

The Circular Economy Team (within the Sustainability Department) is always looking for ways to reduce waste and one of the best ways to do that is to reuse unwanted items. That’s why, since 2020, the team collects unused items such as chairs, desks and tables to donate  to local organisations such as the Belgrave School and the Sofa Project.

The Belgrave School provides specialist, quality education for local children with Dyslexia. Our donations support their work by providing essential furniture like desks for the schools’ pupils. The Sofa Project is another local charity that collects unwanted items of furniture to sell at their two stores on West Street and Gloucester Road. All surplus profit from the company is then invested into local good causes. By donating our unwanted furniture, we are able not only to avoid sending it to landfill but also help support the Sofa Project in their amazing charitable work.

Donating surplus items to charity is a great way to reduce waste and minimise our carbon footprint, not to mention offering something back to the local community. If you have any furniture or other items that you no longer need, please consider donating them before you throw them away, they might be exactly what someone else needs! For more information on donating unwanted items please see:

https://www.sofaproject.org.uk/

https://www.bhf.org.uk/

 

How to have a sustainable Easter

Buy chocolate eggs with minimal packaging

Most of us indulge in a chocolate egg over the Easter holidays, but you ever think about the packaging they come in? According to Which? the plastic and cardboard packaging is around a quarter of the total weight of the most popular Easter eggs on sale. Look out for eggs that are sensibly packaged in smaller boxes.

Choose ethical chocolate eggs

Reduce the impact of your chocolate treats by choosing vegan and/or Fair Trade. Chocolate made with plant-based alternatives to milk have a much lower carbon footprint, and Fair Trade means that the workers who produced the cocoa were paid a premium which they can invest in their communities to fight the effects of climate change.

Here’s a run-down of the best ethical eggs on the market.

Recycle aluminum foil

Aluminum foil is lightweight and small so to make it easier to recycle, scrunch it into a ball. Keep adding to your ball to make it easier to sort and less likely to blow away before putting it into your recycling bin.

You can check whether a foil is recyclable by scrunching the wrapper in your hand – if it remains scrunched in a ball it is recyclable.

Make your own Easter decorations

There are lots of fun ways of making Easter decorations, from decorating Blown eggs with pens, paints and biodegradable glitter to paper egg decorations and salt dough bunnies.

Once you have a selection of decorations you could try adding these to an Easter tree, these are easy to make by collecting a selection of branches or twigs and displaying them in a vase or large jar. There are some really fun ideas to inspire you here:  26 DIY Easter Tree Ideas – How to Make an Easter Tree (countryliving.com)

Reduce food waste

A study conducted by Tesco and hubbub in 2021 projected that 8,490 tonnes of food would go to waste over Easter, including approximately 6.8 million hot cross buns, 9.5 million slices of leftover roast meat, 19 million leftover potatoes and 20 million leftover portions of vegetables.

Over shopping, cooking more food than is required and not making good use of leftover food means food waste at Easter is a huge issue. Bristol Waste has created this meal and shopping planner to encourages us to use up what we already have before we buy too much.

Go plant-based this Easter

Reduce the carbon impact of your Easter meals by choosing plant-based or lower carbon options. One portion of beef uses nearly 8kg of carbon to produce, compared to chicken which is around 1.5kg or nuts which are <1kg*.

Opt for Fairtrade Flowers

Flowers are another popular gift at this time of year. Look out for Fairtrade options, which are traceable back to the farm where they were grown. Fairtrade certified farms must ensure safety and working conditions for their employees and receive a Fairtrade Premium of 10% for every stem sold, which allows workers to invest in healthcare, education and other social benefits.

https://www.fairtrade.org.uk/buying-fairtrade/flowers/

 

*Source Climate change food calculator: What’s your diet’s carbon footprint?

The 3 best apps for reducing food waste

At least one-third of all edible food produced across the world is never eaten. That’s enough to feed two billion people – around a quarter of the world’s population. This food waste Food waste has a huge environmental impact and generates 8-10% of the of man-made greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change.  

Food Waste Action Week (7 – 13 March 2022) aims to highlight this issue and help to deliver the UN Sustainable Development Goal of halving global food waste by 2030. To help you gear up for the week, we took a look at a few apps of the apps helping to reduce food waste.  

1. Too Good To Go  

This app offers-up end-of-day food from your local cafes, restaurants, shops and hotels at a bargain price. Simply sign up with your postcode to browse what’s currently up for grabs in your local area, check you can make the collection window and pay via the app. You won’t know exactly what’s in your haul until you pick it up – which we think just adds to the fun!  

Did you know you can often find the University’s Source Cafes on the app? Look out for food from  Senate House Food court (Monday to Friday), and from the Hiatt Baker café and Balloon Bar (Wednesday to Saturday). 

2. Olio  

Olio connects you, your neighbours and local businesses so surplus food can be shared rather than not wasted. You’ll see all types of groceries up for the taking, from food nearing its sell-by date at local shops to artisan bread from your local bakery to the excess of your neighbour’s weekly food shop. And the best part? You can pick these items up for free!  

3. SuperCook  

This app is perfect for figuring out what to do with the odd ingredients in your fridge. All you need to do is enter the ingredients you have in your kitchen and it’ll come up with recipes you can make. We think it’s a great way to save money, save food waste and try out new recipes!  

As part of FWAW, the Sustainability team is hosting a ‘Food-Swap’ at Senate House Café on Thursday 10 March, 11am to 4pm. Simply bring food you won’t consume by the ‘Use By’ date and exchange it for something you fancy. 

For more information on how to reduce your food waste, follow @uobsustainability on Instagram or head to the Wrap website.  

Our journey to Fair Trade

Fairtrade Fortnight brings together thousands of campaigners, shoppers, students, and businesses in a show of support for the farmers behind our food on the front line of the climate crisis. These farmers are often exploited and badly paid. 

Read on to hear from Rose Rooney, the University’s Circular Economy and EMS Sustainability Manager, as she shares her insights into the importance of embedding Fair Trade values into the University’s ethos, as well as her advice to students wanting to be more involved this Fairtrade Fortnight (21 February – 6 March 2022). 

Can you tell us a bit more about your role? 

I manage our circular economy and environmental management system (ISO 14001). I also lead within the team on sustainable procurement and sustainable food, and Fair Trade overlaps between these two areas.  

Why are Fair Trade values important to Bristol University? 

Bristol University has always had strong roots within sustainability and a large Sustainability team. We’ve been an early adopter of various sustainability policies and practices, with Fair Trade being one of those initiatives of interest. Fairtrade is a great framework for reducing negative impacts on the environment and on the community, both local and global. 

Over the years, we’ve developed our Fair Trade offering far beyond just basic commodities (such as teas and coffee) and into other areas. For example, our print serves team sources fairly traded products for promotional gifts and events, and we’re currently in the process of tending for Fair Trade workwear for university staff. This is just a broad overview and there is of course a lot more work to do! 

Bristol University has Fairtrade accreditation. What does this involve? 

We have a subscription to the National Union of Students (NUS) which administers Fairtrade accreditation on behalf of Fairtrade.org. We subscribe to the NUS online workbook, which features different criteria for their different levels of accreditation. Once we completed the required criteria, we were awarded bronze level Fairtrade accreditation, which we received in 2021. The next audit of our accreditation will take place in 2023. 

This accreditation was achieved due to the support of several stakeholder groups around the university. We have a Fairtrade steering group, led by Rob Logan (our Director of Procurement), which brings the university’s senior management into the decision-making process. We also work with the University’s Fairtrade Network, a student-led group, which has been key to the lobbying process, along with Bristol University’s Student Union. 

What Fair Trade initiatives has Bristol University run? 

Many of our engagements happen during Fairtrade Fortnight, where we offer students and staff the opportunity to learn more about Fair Trade and purchase Fair Trade tea, coffee, and chocolate. We also host pop-up events to provide information and encourage students to pledge support towards the Fair Trade mandate. We also promote Fair Trade products throughout the year, for example, encouraging students to switch to Fair Trade chocolate during Easter, and our catering team offers Fair Trade food and drinks. 

How can people get more involved with Fair Trade? 

We encourage staff and students to make more conscious purchasing decisions by looking out for the various labels that are used to certify fairly traded products. We also have lots of engagements planned for this year’s Fairtrade Fortnight such as a Fairtrade Film Screening at Senate House and a Fair Trade hamper giveaway.  

The University of Bristol works to promote ethical and sustainable supply chains across all its services, from its cafes to retail at the Student Union. If you’re interested in learning more or would be keen to offer your suggestions, please reach out to our Sustainability or Procurement teams. 

Do you have a favourite Fair Trade product? 

Oh absolutely, who doesn’t love Tony’s Chocolonely? They’re a fantastic brand and I love their messaging. 

And finally, where can anyone interested in Fair Trade learn more? 

You can learn more about Fair Trade at Bristol University via our website. The Fairtrade Foundation also has some great resources on its website. 

The latest on Bristol Big Give

The Bristol Big Give (BBG) campaign promotes re-using goods and giving within the community. At the end of term, students can donate unwanted items via donation points across campus, which are then collected and for the British Heart Foundation.  

The annual campaign is a collaboration between the University of Bristol, the University of Bristol Students’ Union, the University of the West of England (UWE), University of the West of England Students’ Union, and Bristol Waste Company and contributes to the University’s waste diversion strategy, achieving carbon reduction goals and Corporate Social Responsibility targets. 

Despite the impact of Covid-19, this year the campaign raised £73,332 to help fund life-saving research, through 42 tonnes of donations. The donations included unwanted clothes, books, duvets, electrical goods and much more, collected at 32 British Heart Foundation donation banks across the city. This takes the total raised by Bristol students £1.57 million since the campaign started back in 2013!  

Through the Bristol Big Give, this year the University also collected 12 tonnes of food donated by students and staff. This food goes to the Trussel Trust, an organisation working to provide emergency food and support to people in poverty.  

How you can participate  

Donation points are available across university halls and buildings. There is also a food donation box in the Senate House Source Cafe until the 20 December for you to drop off any unwanted non-perishable items before going away for Christmas break.  

Coming up  

The next Big Give campaign runs from April through September, supporting your spring cleaning and summer clear-outs. We’ll also be advertising volunteer opportunities with the Bristol Big Give and British Heart Foundation in the New Year, or drop us a line if you’re keen to be notified when opportunities come up.  

 

You can read the British Heart Foundations full Bristol Big Give report here.

 

Relaunching departmental Climate Action Plans

As the first university to declare a climate emergency, back in 2019, the University of Bristol is leading the way on sustainability for education institutions.

As part of our commitment to reaching net-zero carbon by 2030, we’re embedding departmental Climate Emergency Action Plans (CAPs). Following the launch in January 2020, which was stilted by the pandemic, we’re now relaunching the project.

A tailored approach to climate action

Martin Wiles, Head of Sustainability, explains why a tailored, school or departmental approach to climate action is necessary: “We have an eight-point plan to reduce our carbon, but this requires action at every level. Every school and department is different, there’s no one size fits all. As a Russell Group University, labs account for 40% of our energy and waste consumption. The actions needed to reduce carbon in labs are different to what’s needed by, say, the Arts schools.”

Departmental climate action isn’t new to the University of Bristol. Back in 2010, we helped develop and pilot the United Nations award-winning programme ‘Green Impact’, now managed by Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS-International). The Climate Action Plans formalize this as part of the strategic planning process, mandating the plans be co-produced across academic, professional services and students, ultimately signed off by senior management.

Turning big ambitions into practical actions

To support academics, students and professional services staff to build their plans, the University of Bristol has formed a partnership with environmental consultancy NETpositive Futures and together they shaped its online Climate Action Planning Tool. Sheri-Leigh Miles, NETpositive Futures co-founder, said: “The people we need to take action aren’t experts in sustainability. We crafted the tool to turn the University’s big ambitions into practical actions for those we need to deliver them.”

The action planning tool enables teams to explore four themes; buildings, consumption, travel and advocacy. A simple set of questions narrows down the challenges users are presented with so they explore only what is relevant to them and has real impact. They then select statements to further tailor to their context, before being presented with suggested actions.

The University recently appointed a Climate Action Plan Officer, Rachel Moonan, to accelerate work with the schools and departments on their CAPs and support continuous improvement. Rachel Moonan, studying an MSc in Management, CSR and Sustainability, said: “By engaging teams pro-actively with climate action, supporting them to create a tailored plan and sharing learning between departments, we can reduce our carbon impact at grass roots”.

Martin Wiles also added: “The data generated by teams using the tool is pivotal. We can see how CAPs are progressing; how many plans are live, what are the stumbling blocks, how effective are the interventions? Then we can provide efficient support and celebrate successes.”

So far, of the 70 plus schools and departments due to create a Climate Action Plan, 34 are written.

For more information on the Climate Action Plans visit School and Division Climate Action Plans | Green university | University of Bristol.

 

Seven tips for a green Christmas

Christmas is a time of year we all want to indulge ourselves, but that shouldn’t be at the expense of the planet. Here are seven ways to have a sustainable festive season.   

1. Oh Christmas tree! 

Seven million Christmas trees enter landfill every year in the UK. After the festive period, our rotting Christmas trees produce over 100,000 tons of greenhouse gases! The environmentally friendly alternative? Rent a tree instead! Or, at least make sure you chose FSC Certification – this is the only way to confirm that your tree has been sourced sustainably. Also look for Soil Association approval to check if your tree is organic. If your department has a real Christmas tree on campus, please contact Gardens & Grounds to collect it once you’re done.  

2. All that glitters… 

Avoid cheap plastic, glittery decorations and use what you already have wherever you can. Save money and go natural by making wreaths from foliage. If you have holly branches, berries or ivy growing in your garden you can use these or go out for a walk and collect some locally. This can then be composted after the Christmas period. If you plan to send Christmas cards, go for those without microplastics and glitter and choose FSC sourced and fair trade cards that support a charity. 

3. Christmas shopping  

Set yourself a challenge and buy your festive outfit second-hand in one of the many brilliant charity shops and vintage stores around the city. Buying fair trade gifts is another good way to have a greener Christmas, supporting farmers and organic growing practices – check out Traidcraft for ethical gift inspiration.  

You could also let your friends and family know you’re more than happy to receive second-hand items for Christmas, or for them to make a charitable donation on your behalf. You could even ask to have a tree planted to offset some of your carbon footprint!  

4. Getting about 

Connect with the environment, enjoy fresh air and keep your carbon footprint down by walking, cycling or using public transport this Christmas. Where possible, choose the train to visit relatives further afield – a car journey from London to Liverpool (in an average petrol car) produces 62kg of CO2e, whilst the train for the same journey is just 15kg per person. Try to avoid flights – a return trip London to New York is 1.8 tonnes of CO2e per person which is equivalent to around 1/5 of your yearly emissions. 

5. Party season 

Swop the beige buffet for tasty vegan hors d’oeuvres, vegetable tapenades and fruity sorbets to surprise and delight your guests while reducing your carbon footprint. You can also forget about floppy paper plates and disposable table clothes – hire all your tableware essentials from the Party Kit Network, sometimes for free!   

6. Christmas clear out 

Slow down and connect with the reason for the season. Quieter periods are a chance to reorganise have a clear out of your desk/office – use the Waste Management Guide to find how to responsibly reuse and recycle. Start to clear your fridge of food and drinks a week before you leave to avoid unnecessary waste and remember to adjust any scheduled grocery deliveries.  

7. Shut down and switch off 

Have a walk-round of your office and see what non-essential electrical items might need switching off. A single monitor and computer left on 24 hours a day will cost around £45 a year. A photocopier left on overnight uses enough energy to make over 5,000 A4 copies. Fridges, kettles and microwaves can all be unplugged over Christmas if nobody is using them.  

When you get back in January, remember that if a monitor is turned off when not being used (e.g., lunchtimes), and the standby options are activated, energy consumption can be reduced by 90% per year!  

 

Have you any more tips to share? Leave a comment to let us know your top festive sustainability tips! 

Sustainability achievements in 2021

As a University, we’re committed to becoming net-zero carbon by 2030. We’re on a challenging but exciting journey to transform our estate into a beacon of environmental sustainability. 

While we still have a long way to go, it’s important to celebrate the wins along the way and keep everyone up-to-date with the progress being made. Here are just some of our sustainability achievements from the past 12 months: 

1.Upgraded our Energy Management System 

To help us understand and improve energy usage around the campus, we upgraded our Building Energy Management System. These smart control systems help us understand the impact of environmental conditions on different buildings and see where we’re overconsuming, particularly in laboratories and our larger halls of residence.  

2. Helped over 100 staff to buy a new bike  

We launched a new Cycle to Work Scheme in April, offering a wider range of bikes including e-bikes. The increased scheme limit of £2,500 can be used at Halfords, Tredz, and participating independent bike shops, helping even more staff buy a bike to travel to work sustainably.  

3. Secured investment for an electric fleet 

In May, the University allocated a £235,000 investment for new electric vehicles and e-cargo bikes for campus transport operations and electric pool bikes for staff business travel. Once in place, this new electric fleet will improve efficiency and environmental performance in transport operations, helping us align with Bristol’s planned Clean Air Zone, as well as our net-zero target.  

4. Became a Fairtrade University 

The University became a Fairtrade University in June, recognising the work done to embed ethical and sustainable practices in our curriculum, procurement, research and campaigns.    

5. Donated 12.5 tonnes of food to local charities 

In June the University also won a three-star Zero Waste award representing several years of hard work from the University’s catering and sustainability teams. In the last 12 months we donated 12.5 tonnes of food from across the University and Students Union to local charities through the Trussell Trust and FareShare South West, supporting those living in food poverty and reducing methane caused by food waste. 

6. Became the first university in the world to gain 100% Green Lab Certification 

All of the University’s 990 laboratories gained at least a bronze certification in the Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF). Hundreds of staff within the STEM community were involved in implementing actions to improve energy efficiency, waste management, sustainable procurement and research quality.   

7. Recycled 14 tonnes of student items through the Bristol Big Give 

Our end-of-term re-use scheme in student accommodation, The Bristol Big Give, reused over 14 tonnes of materials and generated up to £24,000 for local charities, diverting countless unwanted items from landfill and supporting the circular economy.  

8. Installed 80 new recycling facilities 

Over the Summer we partnered with Reworked UK to install over 80 internal recycling facilities for even more single use plastic items including crisp packets, confectionary wrappers, single use non-hazardous PPE such as face masks and Lateral Flow Test kits.  

9. Saved nearly £0.5m through Sustainable Science & Green Labs initiatives 

STEM Laboratories at the University of Bristol account for 40% of our energy and waste budget as well as 32% of our annual water bill, but only occupy 6% of our space. The Sustainable Science & Green Labs initiative in 2020/21 helped make savings of nearly half a million pounds, through energy, water, waste, behaviour change and procurement projects. 

10. Joined IEMA as corporate members  

We’ve taken out corporate membership and gone through a rigorous process to become an Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) approved training centre so we can deliver sustainability skills for managers courses for staff. In addition, 45 students benefitted from free membership for the month of November, giving them access to events, learning resources and networking opportunities.  

11. Reused nearly 8 tonnes of furniture  

We collected and reused furniture from around the campus, with 80% repurposed within the University and the rest going to local schools, and charities such as SOFA Project. This saved the University £43,800 on buying new furniture and 13 tonnes of carbon it would’ve taken to manufacture new items. 

12. Introduced Climate Action Plans 

Each school and Division have been asked to write a plan and to nominate a contact for the University Sustainability team to work with in writing the plans. To date, about 70% of departments have nominated a coordinator, with 50% starting a plan and 25% moving onto implementing actions. We’re currently recruiting a CAP Officer to support with the rollout in the new year.  

On the heels of COP26, engagement and conversation around the topic of sustainability is at an all-time high. Now more than ever we need to work together to build momentum and continue creating change across the University.  

On a smaller scale, you can start to make a positive impact today by joining the 1,800 staff and students taking part in Be the Change. Register here to complete carbon saving activities and start earning points to be in with a chance of winning one of many £10 vouchers up for grabs each month.