Climate Fresk : Empowering students with climate science education

Climate Fresk workshopAs part of this year’s Welcome Week induction, Xiaolong Shui, director of the programme ‘Msc International Business and Strategy: Global Challenges’ in the Business School, invited the new cohort of students and fellow colleagues to take part in a Climate Fresk workshop. 

The Climate Fresk is a collaborative workshop, designed to make climate science fun and digestible. In recent years, the game has gained popularity amongst schools and universities across the UK. At the University of Bristol, Climate Fresks have been conducted in several schools as part of the departments’ efforts to incorporate sustainability in the curriculum.  

The Business School event marks the largest Climate Fresk organised by a School in the University  , with over 30 participants forming five teams.  

During the workshop, teams were encouraged to interact and connect the dots within the intricate web of the climate system, tracing causes and consequences. The format of the game did more than just educate; it provided a space to process the often negative emotions associated with the climate crisis, and it invited discussion on the discourses and attitudes that promote inaction, as well as on the pressing need to address the climate emergency to achieve broader sustainable development goals.  

As the workshop progressed, the students engaged wholeheartedly with its content and expressed a strong interest in getting involved. Participants reported feeling more empowered to act and each person set themselves an action to take to have a positive impact. 

Climate Fresk workshop cardsProfessor Xiaolong Shui also led students to critically discuss various business practices, linking the content of the workshop to the issues explored in the MSc programme. 

Would you like to know more about holding a Climate Fresk in your School or department? Get in touch with Sustainability’s Climate Action Officer via this email address:  

Are you interested in becoming a Climate Fresk facilitator? The University is looking at training facilitators in different departments. If you are interested in being included in this, please contact the education for sustainability team: . 

Green Labs | Recognising excellence in sustainable science

Over the summer, the Green Labs Team were pleased to announce that the Churchill Building on Langford Campus has achieved Gold LEAF certification. The Churchill Building is made up of smaller research laboratories as well as the veterinary teaching labs, therefore the whole Veterinary School is now Gold LEAF accredited. LEAF CERTIFICATE

Whilst the audit was requested for a Silver award, it was clear that the technical team under Sharon Holt had gone above and beyond Silver criteria, resulting in the awarding of a Gold LEAF award, the highest of the tiers of LEAF certification. This certification will last for three years and is a huge step towards achieving the University-wide 100% Silver LEAF certification.  

 When asked about the Vet School’s achievement, Sharon Holt said “Holder of Bronze, aiming for Silver then achieving Gold is amazing! This was not just a team effort but a whole School effort as everyone must buy into our goal, which is to continue to work toward our Climate Action Plans to reduce its carbon emissions in response to the climate and ecological emergency”.
Some of the initiatives that helped them reach Gold certification include: 

  • A complete freezer cataloguing and clean-out operation to clear old, unusable samples and consolidate freezers. This is allowing them to eliminate several large, energy-hogging freezers. 
  • Careful monitoring of their DI water system – they have just one shared machine for decanting to reduce redundancy and waste. They also collect any wastewater and use it to rinse glassware, reducing water usage. 
  • Providing students and staff with reusable lab kits for home practise. This avoids a lot of plastic waste from single-use consumables, as many of the practicals from the teaching lab must be sterile. 

Much of the credit goes to Sharon Holt and her diligent tech team for implementing these changes, with the support from Stuart Pope, Operations Manager, who is the coordinator for the School’s Climate Action Plan. Their work is an inspiration and model for other labs to follow.

Please contact our Green Labs team at  to conduct an audit for your lab so we can work towards 100% Silver LEAF certification for the University by early 2024. 


Be the Change: Challenge yourself to reduce your waste 

The arrival on campus of Another Wave is Possible, the 90kg litter sculpture by eco-artist Wren Miller is a bold reminder of the harmful effect waste has on our environment. We can all take action and create change by making conscious, sustainable choices, however small they may seem – that’s why this September we’re encouraging you to Be the Change and challenge yourself to reduce the plastic you use to help wave goodbye to waste! 

We spoke to a few of our colleagues who are already challenging themselves to reduce their waste, read on to find out more about their experiences.  

Helen Fullagar, Projects Officer (Inclusion) HRHelen

“We all know that our impact on the environment is causing incredible damage to the world and its balance, and I’ve never felt like humans should treat Earth as something they can use, rather, it is something we should work with and protect. 

I try to choose loose fruit and vegetables where possible. I also grow a lot of my own fruit and veg in my allotment and garden. I’ve switched to a washable make-up remover cloth, instead of wipes, and reduced how much make-up I wear. I use a safety razor, instead of disposable plastic ones. I try to buy products in paper, card or glass rather than plastic. I also use shampoo and conditioner bars, bar soap and a solid deodorant. I’ve had one roll of cling film for about five years… and that came from someone else! I just use containers, or plates on top of things when microwaving, instead.  

By making these changes I feel I’m living more to a lifestyle that matches my values. There’s also a bit more community feel; having an allotment, getting involved in litter picks in the area, and going to smaller, local stores (like my local zero-waste store) regularly.”  


Paddy holding reuseable drinking vessels.Paddy Uglow, Digital Learning Materials Assistant Developer, Digital Education Office 

“I want to reduce my waste to make the world a liveable place for a little longer than it would be otherwise. Also I think I’ve always felt a wrongness with unnecessary waste of all kinds – whether material, effort, energy, time…  

I buy most of my dry goods in my own refillable containers. I reuse bath water to flush the toilet and have reduced toilet roll use. I use a heated blanket rather than heating the room. I grow more and store it in a freezer. I take any unusable plastic bags to the supermarket recycling point. I try to choose products with less single-use plastic and rarely buy any foods that come in single-use tins, cans or jars. Just recently I’ve managed to do nearly zero-waste camping; camping seems to generate so much waste, which really jars with being “in nature”. I have a 1.5L cold “bath” each day and rarely have hot baths or showers. 

The biggest challenge for me is cutting back on ready meals and ingredients that come in single-use packaging, but batch-cooking with my partner is a fun alternative. And I like the staff at our nearest scoop shop, so trips there are enjoyable. 

My tip to others is to be aware of anything single-use you use and see if there’s an alternative. Be suspicious of people suggesting you need to buy some kind of “green” product to be eco-friendly – do you really need a special reusable plastic cup? Just take along a normal cup, or even STOP at a café rather than dashing around with a cup of coffee!” 


Gemma Windle, Systems Manager, Development and Alumni Relations Office Gemma

 “I think really hard about what I buy and whether there is a reasonable less wasteful alternative. The easy wins are refillable cleaning products and toiletries and reusing packaging (such as jars and resealable bags). The introduction of a ‘soft plastic’ recycling bin at my local supermarket also helps me reduce my impact. 

Food is the biggest challenge. There is a zero-waste shop near me, but it’s price matched to Tesco, not Aldi/Lidl, it has very limited choice and limited opening hours. As much as I want to go plastic free, the zero-waste shop isn’t a realistic solution for me, so I end up buying a lot of food in plastic packaging and recycling it. 

One thing I’ve noticed is I hardly ever have to take the bin out. And because my loo roll, cleaning products and toiletries all arrive by post it makes the weekly shop a lot easier to do on foot. 

I wish the companies were made to be more responsible for the waste they produce. It shouldn’t be legal to create something with no thought for where it goes when it’s no longer useful.  

It’s important to remember paper and cardboard has a carbon footprint too, so always opt for reusable where you can. It’s not just about plastic!” 


Sai PriyaDr. Sai Priya Munagala, Research Associate 

“Wherever possible, I have stopped buying things sold in single use plastic in favour of the loose produce – in the amounts that I need. For other purchases, I make sure to check if the plastic packaging is recyclable. I work in a laboratory set up and try to economise the consumables’ usage and actively encourage others to do so. 

Despite the urge to reduce waste, a few things are impossible to get without generating waste. Sometimes, it gets really heavy on the pocket to practice the more sustainable way as shops charge quite a lot to buy packaging-free products.  

It definitely involves extra effort and time, but I feel that maybe my bit would be helpful in making this planet a better place. People comment that ‘one individual’s changes are not going to affect anything’, to which I strongly disagree. If everyone argued against the comment, I’m sure that massive positive changes can be brought.” 


Want to know more about the sustainable choices you can make to produce better outcomes for the environment? Read more on the Be the Change webpage. 


Green Labs | Aiming for 100% LEAF Silver Certification

The University of Bristol is committed to reducing the environmental impact of its research and STEMed (Science, Technology,Green Labs accreditations picture Engineering, Maths) labs across campus through an initiative called Green Labs.  

The Green Labs scheme at Bristol encompasses a number of means to reduce the environmental impact of our research and STEMed labs. It is driven by the LEAF (Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework), which is a standardised framework for meeting a total of 45 criteria spread across what is termed ‘Bronze’, ‘Silver’ and ‘Gold’ certification. This encompasses optimising water and energy usage, reducing waste, and integrating the principles of green chemistry into daily operations, to name just a few of the criteria. 

As we move through the remainder of 2023 and into 2024, our sights are set on a new, ambitious objective: achieving 100% institutional Silver LEAF certification by January 2024.  

This goal is driven not only by our deep-seated ethos of environmental stewardship and sustainable science, but also by the prospect of becoming the world’s first university to earn Silver LEAF accreditation across the entirety of our institution.  

We have set ourselves a deadline of 100% institutional Silver by January 2024 and as this date draws closer, the number of labs already receiving the certification is really encouraging. The School of Anatomy, Bristol BioResource Laboratories and the Level 7 Labs within the BRI are now 100% Silver.  

Besides reducing our environmental footprint and utility costs, LEAF certification offers other real-world benefits. It boosts research efficiency, strengthens relationships across departments, and opens up potential avenues for additional research funding. For prospective students and staff, it is a powerful testament to our commitment to sustainable practices, which can be a significant draw.  

The Green Labs team can provide tailored guidance and perform audits — whether in-person or virtually — our expertise will be invaluable in streamlining the certification process for your lab. For assistance or to arrange an audit, email  

The LEAF Process (a ‘How To’ Guide) 

We understand that the new, online LEAF tool may seem confusing, but the system has been updated to be even easier for lab users. Follow our 5-step guide to submit your Silver for 2024 submission.  

  1. Register or sign into the LEAF UCL (University College London) tool linked here.  
  2. Fill out the Award Criteria section of the website, remember if you achieved bronze in 2021 or earlier you will need to resubmit for bronze as well as silver. Fill out how you met each criterion, and you can provide supporting documents if you wish, you can also save your answers and complete later. For an in-depth tutorial on how to use the tool click here.  
  3. Once all criteria have been filled out, or you have explained why some do not apply to your lab, we encourage you to attach calculations for energy and cost savings, for more details click here. There is also a section to discuss individual actions or ‘Open Initiatives.’ These extra pieces of information are vital and help us calculate how much taking part in LEAF your lab saves.  
  4. Click submit sustainability assessment and the Green Labs Team will be in touch to organise an in-person or online audit.  
  5. After a successful audit you will receive a certificate and/or badge to recognise your contribution to sustainable science.  

There’s more information available for UOB Labs on this Sharepoint page

Inspiring green careers through Bristol Future Talent Week

Diversity, equality and inclusion are core to sustainability, yet despite Bristol’s reputation for being the only UK city to be a European Green Capital, young people in Bristol face some of the highest levels of inequality and racial discrimination in the UK, particularly in education and employment.  

The Bristol Future Talent Partnership works with young people from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds aged 14 to 21 to remove barriers, raise aspirations and provide talent with opportunity by providing high quality work experience opportunities with our partner organisations. 

In July, the Botanic Gardens worked with the Partnership to host a group of 12 students, providing valuable insight into the range of sustainability-related roles across the University. From learning about the diversity of plants and taking cuttings at the Botanic Gardens, to learning about sustainable events at the SU, to touring our 100% bronze certified ‘Green Labs’, the week highlighted the range of roles in the ‘green industry’ to inspire the students’ future career development.  

The Sustainability Team hosted a half day with the students and explained the University’s Net Zero Carbon by 2030 target, alongside the plan to get there. The students heard from several members of the team and learned about carbon footprints, smart buildings and how the Team drives down the University’s transport emissions.  

“The benefits of work experience are vast but the type of work experience that young people can access usually depends on family connections. We hope that by offering work experience opportunities like this we can help make the industry more inclusive and diverse. The week was very enjoyable, the young people were a real pleasure to be with, and we hope our partnership with BFTP will be a long one.” Andrew Winfield, Bristol Botanic Gardens.   

For more information about the Bristol Future Talent Partnership, see their website 

Be the Change | Choosing second-hand fashion, whatever the occasion!

The clothing and textiles industry accounts for more greenhouse gas emissions than international aviation and shipping combined. Rethinking the amount of clothes we buy and refreshing our wardrobes with only second-hand pieces challenges fast-fashion culture, saves money, and encourages creativity. Read on to hear from two colleagues who are relishing the fashion challenge.   


Vicki Carliell, Teaching Associate, VET school

Vicky and her second-hand wedding dress

“I’ve been a charity shopper since my student years, when numerous student balls, formal dinners and work placements required fancy clothes I couldn’t afford. I once found a gorgeous blue silk cocktail dress (which costs more to dry clean than the dress itself!) – I’ve enjoyed many occasions in that dress over the years.  

I’m getting married this summer and we’re considering the environmental impact of all our choices. My wedding dress and all five bridesmaids’ dresses are all coming from charity shops. Initially I was nervous my bridesmaids would think I’m being cheap, but they’re excited and think it’s cool I’m doing it. We’re looking for bright, colourful, mismatched dresses – bold and vibrant! 

When it came to choosing dresses, they came to Bristol and we first visited the Tenovus Bridal Store on Glouster Road. They’d held back some dresses I’d pre-selected, closed the store and made it a really nice experience for us. We found my wedding dress and three of the bridesmaid dresses that day. Some of my bridesmaids are now considering donating their old wedding dresses to charity to give them another lease of life, which is a great thing to do.” 




Josie's old outfit of the day
Josie’s ‘old outfit of the day’

Josie Maskell, Student Administrator, School of Physics 

“I’ve always loved finding unique items of clothing at low prices in charity shops, but following sustainable influencers online, I’ve learnt more about the huge impact that fast fashion has on the planet. I’ve challenged myself to reduce the amount of clothing I buy, and to buy second hand as much as possible.  

It can be hard finding specific items you need or want but apps like Vinted and Ebay mean I can search for specific items second hand, and filter by colour and condition. It can be more work buying second-hand, but I find it especially rewarding when you find the perfect item of clothing after searching – it’s much more exciting than just picking something up from the high street.  

Another way I refresh my wardrobe is by going to clothes swaps. You take along a few good quality items to swap, and everyone’s items are put out on racks to browse. I love these because you never know what you are going to come home with, and it encourages you to have a clear out so that you aren’t holding onto excess clothing.  

Having access to so many great second-hand items online, I have been tempted to over consume and buy things I don’t need. I try to follow the 30-wear rule, where you only buy something if you can see yourself wearing it at least 30 times.  

It’s fun to be creative with the pieces I have, and I often share my outfits on social media using the “old outfit of the day” hashtag, which was created by sustainable influencers to encourage people to join the slow fashion movement. Since doing this, I have heard from a few of my friends that I’ve inspired them to buy more second-hand items which always makes my day.” 


Find out more and sign up to the challenge here. 

Be the Change: Clothes swap and repair, Wednesday 19 April, 4-6pm, Physics Building  

The Sustainability Team is partnering with The Emporium of Loveliness  and Gorgeous by Design to help you on your way to a more sustainable wardrobe. Simply bring along your gently used clothes to swap for something different or bring along an item in need of a minor repair and get it fixed for free! Staff and students can sign up for this free event on the Be the Change webpage.   


The Rebirth of The Hungry Caterpillar Food Coop

Popular student-run food cooperative, the Hungry Caterpillar, is finally enjoying its rebirth after spending lockdown in hibernation. We caught up with Jane Williamson, a volunteer and organiser with the co-op, to find out more about the relaunch and what to expect from the new and improved cooperative.

“The Hungry Caterpillar came from a desire to have more affordable, cheap and low-waste groceries on campus,” Jane explained. “Bulk shops can be colossally expensive and inaccessible to students and those on lower incomes – more expensive than shopping at a supermarket. Our aim is to bring together students to do something positive around sustainable yet fairly priced food.”

To achieve their goals, the cooperative buys from local wholesaler, Essential Trading Cooperative, and resells at the same price – a ‘positive uprising’ against the c

ulture of big supermarkets. Members bring along their own containers and buy produce by weight, minimising food waste and plastic packaging.

Run by student

society BUST (Bristol University Sustainability Team), the Hungry Caterpillar is open 1-3pm every Wednesday in the Multifaith Chaplaincy. Each week, customers can also enjoy a cheap and sustainable lunch before the stall, made with ingredients from the co-op and vegetables donated by a local grocer’s shop.

Janes explains that this is a second life for the Hungry Caterpillar, and the cooperative wants to offer even more than before.

“It’s conceptually a reincarnation – bringing the Hungry Caterpillar back from the ashes. But now we’re reimagining it; the food stall is central, but we are also running movie nights and clothes swaps”.

The itinerary of the co-operative over the next few weeks includes a seed planting session and a Hungry Caterpillar patch-ironing workshop. Jane tells us that they are also looking into setting up a supper club, and an affordable veg box scheme so that they can also offer fresh produce. It’s clear that joining the cooperative is about more than picking up groceries.

“It’s also a way to make new friends and take simple impactful action,” Jane added. “The Hungry Caterpillar is not just those who run the stall. The cooperative is open to suggestions of new products to stock and enjoys collaborating with other students and groups for events. It operates like a society, with volunteers signing up via a rota to run the stall every week. Everyone is working together to get sustainable, low-waste, and low-cost food onto campus- it feels great to be a part of it!”.

Both staff and students are welcome to join and use The Hungry Caterpillar cooperative, which is open from 1-3pm every Wednesday in the Multifaith Chaplaincy, Woodland Road. You cecome a member for just £3 a year through the BUST sign-up page on the SU website here.

Zero-Waste Pop-Up, 12:30-15:00, Thursday 27 April, Bristol SU Living Room, Senate House 

To mark World Food Waste Day, The Hungry Caterpillar is running a pop-up shop in the SU living room, to help you consume more considerately, reduce your reliance on single-use plastic and save some money! Make sure to bring your Tupperware along and stock up on essential household ingredients and snacks. You can purchase annual membership to the co-operative for just £3 on the day, or right now using this link.


Be the Change | Extend the life of your electricals

Be the Change is the University’s new campaign to empower staff and students to make more sustainable choices. Be the Change features six challenges relating to food, fashion, travel, electronics, energy & water, and action. Each month highlights a theme and offers events and activities to engage people in related challenges.  

This month, we are asking you to challenge yourself to extend the life of your electricals, save money and help the planet. Small changes like protecting your phone with a phone case or screen protector, repairing devices or buying second hand or refurbished items can make a big difference.

What are some of the things we can do? 

Protect your devices: According to the United Nations University’s Global e-waste monitor, around 50 million metric tonnes of electronic products are discarded every year. Looking after our devices and using them for longer will save us money, as well reduce the demand for newer models and amount of e-waste generated. 

Buy second hand: We’ve become accustomed to upgrading our phones, tablets and even our laptops every few years, generating toxic waste and using up valuable finite resources. If you really need a new device, consider buying second hand from websites such as eBay, Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree. 

Do your research: Many retailers are now offering refurbished items, sometimes of very recent models of electricals ranging from laptops and TVs to vacuum cleaners and hair dryers. 

Upcoming events

The University is hosting various events and activities relating to each Be the Change challenge and the University’s Sustainability Strategy. This month’s events include: 

  • ‘The Environmental Impact of Digital – and what you can do about it’, Tues 13 December, 2-3pm (Online)  
  • Author and podcaster, Gerry McGovern, will discuss the impact of digital and electrical waste on the planet. Register for free tickets on Eventbrite. 
  • ‘Fix My Crack’ phone repairs and Bristol Waste drop-in, Wed 14 December, 10.30-1pm, Senate House Loft.

To find out more and set yourself a challenge visit Be the Change University webpage. You can also join the Be the Change community group on Yammer. 

Cycling to work – why two wheels are better than four

This Thursday 4 August is Cycle to Work day. The message is simple – if you commute to work, have a go at cycling all or part of your journey.  

We understand that taking up cycling is challenge, which is why our Transport team supports staff and students through initiatives such as our free bike maintenance clinics, cycle to work scheme, free cycle security marking and provision of repair facilities, cycle parking and showers. To inspire more of us to make the shift to a greener commute, we spoke to three colleagues who forgo the car in favour of cycling. Here are their stories: 

Marton Balazs, School of Mathematics:  

“Cars are a massive burden to individuals and society. The expense and hassle of maintenance, the reduced activity of the owner, and the congestion, pollution, public space, noise… I don’t want to contribute to these problems. 

Getting and maintaining the bike, figuring out routes, cycling among cars, and the physical activity itself was easier than I first thought. Once you overcome the initial barrier then getting on your bike for transport becomes second nature. 

When it came to choosing my bike, I visited a few bike shops and told them a list of features like comfy bike with dropped handlebar, strong gears, offroad capabilities, mudguard, mirror and dynamo – I was sure such bike didn’t exist. Instead I was told it’s called a touring bike and they showed me a range with the exact specs I was looking for. After doing the maths I was soon in the University’s cycle to work scheme with a Dawes touring bike.  

The benefits of cycling are huge – physical activity and the health benefits being the main one. Time saving comes second: commute is not at all slower than driving but it automatically includes the time spent on exercise! Costs come third, the purchase and maintenance of our bikes is a small fraction of what we would spend each year on bus tickets or running a car. As for my young one, he once said “The school run on the bike is the best part of the day!”. 

Josie Maskell, School of Physics: 

“I was finding it increasingly stressful and time-consuming driving into work, plus there is limited parking on campus, so it could be a challenge to get a space.  

A few months ago, I switched to catching the bus or cycling to work. Cycling takes 45-50 minutes, with hills at either end, so I can’t quite manage cycling every day, but I found a lovely route that’s mostly off-road along the river which I really enjoy. Tackling the hills is still hard, and in the beginning, I would walk most of the way but can now cycle the hills with a short rest halfway up, which feels like a major achievement!  

I regularly use the University’s cycle clinics to get my bike checked over, and the Ucard bike sheds help me feel more comfortable leaving my bike throughout the day.” 

Kate Lippiatt, Financial Services: 

“I ditched my car commute from Nailsea at the start of 2019 and bought an e-bike. I can’t recommend it enough, it’s by far the better option for me. The biggest challenge was just having the courage to give it a go – then I was converted from the first commute! I was a bit nervous about riding in traffic initially, but it only took a couple of rides to feel more confident and I felt a sense of achievement from getting to and from work by bike. 

I think it’s important those of us who are able to use active travel do so as often as possible, to help reduce air pollution and carbon emissions and the damaging effects these have on people’s health and the planet. The more people walk, cycle and use public transport, the less time those who need to use their cars will be stuck in traffic. 

When it came to choosing my bike, I knew that I wanted an e-bike, as I wasn’t used to cycling more than a few miles and didn’t want to arrive hot and sweaty from cycling up the hill at the end of my journey. I also thought that I wouldn’t want to ride in wet weather, but I bought decent waterproofs and it’s fine. In some ways I prefer riding in the rain as it’s usually when the traffic is worst. Getting a rack and panniers was a good choice for me, as I found carrying everything in a rucksack too heavy. 

My top tip to anyone thinking of cycling to work would be to use a website such as Better by Bike to plan your route in advance, as there are often ways you can go by bike that avoid the busiest roads and complicated junctions. I would encourage everyone who can to give it a go – you may well find that you love it and that it’s all round a better commute than driving.” 

Thinking of giving cycling a go?  

How can you cycle safely and easily with children?

By Ross Hansen, The Bike Storage Company 

Cycling is a fantastic way for you and your family to explore the great outdoors together, but it’s also a good way to cut down on car use for commuting and running errands. 

There is no age limit for kids cycling on the road, so it comes down to you as a parent or guardian to make sensible decisions based on your children’s cycling skills, age and awareness of possible hazards. 

If you have younger children who are unable to cycle themselves yet, you may want to consider alternative ways you can still involve them. For example, you could install a child seat either on the front of your bike or behind you. For added safety and peace of mind, be sure to buy one with a pre-attached harness, to keep your little passenger secure.  

If your children are a little older and are ready to get out on their own two wheels, here are six takeaway tips to help you enjoy stress-free days out with the little ones. 

Teach them basic cycling skills 

The basic requirement for a child is to be able to ride in a stable and controlled manner. They should be able to confidently ride forthrightly, turn a corner and brake in a controlled way. You can teach them in a traffic-free environment such as a park first to ensure they can be safe on the road. This could be a fun and exciting moment for you and the children. 

You can also check if their schools have bikeability training. Bikeability training is usually at the end of primary school or the beginning of secondary school, and it’s a great way for children to learn essential cycling skills and roadcraft. 

Teach them about bike safety and storage 

Always check your children’s bikes are safe to ride before setting off. Are the tyres inflated and do the brakes work? If you’re unsure of anything, reach out to your local bike dealer to assist you.  

As the kids learn how to ride a bike, it’s also a good opportunity to teach them about being responsible for their belongings. Consider options for bike storage at home, and be sure to impart your knowledge to help the children take better care for their valuables.  

Make sure the bike is properly fitted 

Children grow fast and a poorly fitted bike will make riding more difficult and affect handling. Make sure to adjust the seat so that your kid’s knee is bent slightly when the leg is placed on the pedal, and so they can put one foot on the ground with ease once they come to a halt. Once the seat is adjusted properly, check if your child can comfortably reach the handlebars and easily control the brakes and gears. 

Choose the route 

Try to avoid busy roads with complicated junctions. You can use free cycling routes and paths, but make sure your children know that they might encounter pedestrians. To build more confidence, you might also start off by cycling at quieter times of the day so there is less traffic and footfall sharing the paths. 

Position yourselves correctly on the road 

You should ride about a bike length behind your child, who should be positioned on the left side of the road, about 50cm from the gutter. 

It’s also perfectly okay to ride side by side, as this can be more reassuring to your child. If you are two adults with one child, the child can ride between you, following the adult ahead. If you’re the only adult with more than one child, you can have the more experienced one lead the way and have the rest follow as you pay close attention to the less experienced one. 

Communicate during the ride 

Talk throughout the ride, pull your children to the side of the road, and explain what you are doing and why. Since you follow them, you’ll be responsible for checking over their shoulder and signalling them, but encourage them to look and signal too once they have the handling skills to signal and look back. 

To sum up 

Cycling with your children is a great way to bond with your family, increase your children’s confidence levels and reduce your carbon footprint.  

The University of Bristol offers staff a Cycle to Work scheme with an allowance of up to £2,500. While you can’t use this towards the cost of a bike for your child, you can buy a bike that you intend to use at least 50% of the time for travelling to work, including nursery or school drop- offs.  

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.

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 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.