Be the Change and 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 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.