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.