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.

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/

 

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.