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Sustainable Events Planning Opportunities

In a recent post about careers in Sustainability and CSR, we highlighted that speakers told the audience that relevant experience in the field was important, part of which could be working with societies at university. This is even more important as a number of companies are focusing more on the ‘soft’ skills of their potential employees than simply their degrees alone.  If you’re looking to gain experience in both sustainability, events planning, and working as a team, then a new opportunity with Ecosoc may be of interest.

EcoSoc is looking for passionate students to be part of an events planning team and organize environmental events this term. It will run separate from committee with the possibility of progression onto committee if desired. If you have an idea for a great environmental event, have an interest in learning about how events are run, or simply want to get more involved in EcoSoc, the Events planning team will an informal and fun way to make new friends and gain experience!

If you’d like to be invovled, you can sign up at here.

Fairtrade Fortnight 2017

Fairtrade Fortnight will be taking place between Monday 27th February and Sunday 12th March. This year’s theme is ‘take a break’, encouraging people to take some time out to have a Fairtrade tea or coffee together (perhaps with some Fairtrade chocolate for those with a sweet tooth!).

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The aim of the fortnight period is to raise awareness of the plight of farmers outside of the Fairtrade system, who may be exploited in growing, processing and selling their products. The Fairtrade process aims to ensure people get paid a fair price for what they sell, and that they have safe working conditions. You can test your knowledge and find out more about Fairtrade in this quiz.

Events and Promotions

At King’s we’re supporting Fairtrade Fortnight with special offers on food and drink – including a half price brownie with any hot drink and (for those looking for a healthy option) and a half price banana with any salad purchased. Medsin have organised what promises to be an interesting event “The Flipside of Pancakes: Big Food, Food Systems + Global Health” on 16th March, 6-8pm in the Gordon Museum, Guy’s Campus.

 

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Why is Fairtrade Important?

Low prices paid to farmers can mean:
• They can only afford to feed their families one meal a day. This can lead to health problems for their children such as stunting.
• They can’t afford medical care and put off treatment their families really need.
• They don’t have enough money to send their children to school. Lack of money also means pressure for children to work.
• They can’t afford to invest in better farming. That means they can’t improve the quality of their crops and charge a higher price for them.

Fairtrade exists to change this, but needs more people to know why choosing Fairtrade really matters. We want them to understand that Fairtrade means farmers get a better deal for what they grow. This leads to a better and more stable income, and can help them break the cycle of poverty they are trapped in. But many companies are only buying a fraction of their crops as Fairtrade, and even more companies aren’t buying any Fairtrade at all. Not enough companies are doing it, not enough people are buying it and not enough farmers are benefiting from it. By supporting Fairtrade, you’ll be helping to solve these problems and give farmers a better life for them and their families.

Learn more about Fairtrade here and we hope you enjoy some Fairtrade food and drink over the coming fortnight, and beyond!

A Career in Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility

This year’s Sustainability Week saw two events organised by the Careers Department to provide students with information about how to get a career in Sustainability. A wide range of speakers, from the private, public and academic sectors, provided their insights to students on what a career in sustainability and corporate social responsibility is like, and how to go about getting a job in these sectors.

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As with any job, speakers highlighted the need to gain relevant experience while at university; from volunteering at environment-themed events, working with societies to run events and programmes, and choosing modules that provided knowledge of relevant issues. However, they also stressed that you don’t necessarily need a sustainability related degree (one of the speakers had studied English Literature) to get into the profession. Useful skills such as commercial awareness, knowledge of the law, and financial accounting, all provided important technical knowledge that was relevant to the field of sustainability. The jobs may not always be in the sectors you assume, either; Zoe from Marks and Spencer’s Plan A works on the sustainability of their buildings, since they are an often overlooked part of the sustainability puzzle where good design can significantly reduce energy use and carbon emissions, where as poor design can lock-in bad practise for the decades-long life of buildings.

You can make any job sustainable

One of the stand out pieces of advice the speakers at both events gave was not to limit yourself solely to jobs with ‘Sustainability’ in the title. Although the sector is growing and there are more jobs available, there are also a huge number of people applying for those jobs, making it a difficult sector to get into. Their advice was to find any job in a sector or organisation that you wish to work in, and work to integrate sustainability into that role and influence your colleagues.

This is sound advice, and something King’s itself practises. We have a hard-working team of Sustainability Champions; individuals from different departments around the university who work to make their departments more sustainable, to achieve bronze, silver or gold status. This massively increases the reach and impact of sustainability at King’s, and offers staff the opportunity to bring sustainability into whatever job they are doing.

If you want to find out more, audio recordings of the events are available on KEATS, and there is further information about careers in CSR and Sustainability on the careers website. Our Sustainability team also offers volunteering opportunities to gain experience in the sector, and paid internships each year. Sign up to our newsletter so you know when these opportunities come up.

So if you’re keen to get a career in sustainability and CSR, these events should have provided some valuable information on how to go about doing so. It may not be a straight forward journey, you may not get the job you wanted right away, and you may have to take a position outside the sector and bring sustainability to it to achieve your goal, but that is all part of roller-coaster of careers with purpose. Indeed, if you are ecologically minded, the best place for you may be at the most environmentally destructive companies – they are where change is most needed, and if you have the passion you could make a big impact.

Sustainability Week: The first three days

With Sustainability Week now in full swing, it is time to recap what happened so far, and what events you can still get involved in.

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We asked students what they would do if they were Principal for the day

On Monday and Tuesday we took over the space outside the Great Hall at Strand with our Sustainability Roadshow. Representatives from King’s Money Mentors, Hubbub, Veolia, Thames Plastic, RSPB, EcoSoc, Abe & Cole and Amey joined us for this, and we got the chance to chat to students about sustainability at King’s. Among other things, such as our popular recycling game, we asked students to write down what they would do if they were Principal of King’s for a day. Ideas included switching to clean energy, providing recycling training and banning non-recyclable coffee cups. We will take this feedback and see what we can do about these suggestions to make King’s more sustainable!

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Artist Maria Arceo and the Thames Plastic stall

Highlights of other events include our Vegfest, which saw around 100 students try plant-based food (including Sheese!). We also held a bike auction at Strand, during which 16 second-hand bikes found new homes. Dr Bike were also on site to provide bike checks, and will travel with us to the other campuses over the next two days. King’s Careers & Employability ran two successful events on how to start a career in the sustainability sector, giving students the chance to ask sustainability professionals for advice.

If you have missed our events so far, you still have the chance to take part! Sustainability Week lasts until Friday the 10th February, and there are still lots of events coming up.

Tonight, there will be a panel debate on whether overconsumption or overpopulation is the biggest problem we face.

On Thursday, we will take our Sustainability Roadshow to Waterloo Campus. There will also be a Clothes Swap Shop at Waterloo in the morning. In the evening, you can attend a free screening of Tomorrow (2015), or pitch your idea on how to make King’s more sustainable at the Geography Department’s Sustainability Challenge.

Finally, on Friday we move to Denmark Hill for a seminar on why healthcare professionals should care about climate change, and we will bring our Roadshow, bike fixing sessions and Clothes Swap Show with us.

For more information, check out the full schedule here. We are looking forward to seeing you at the remaining events!

It’s Sustainability Week!

Welcome to Sustainability Week!

This week will be packed with events and activities about sustainability – check out the full schedule here.

To start the week, we would like to share a case study of how King’s staff can have a positive impact by implementing small changes.

The Central Engineering Team (CET) carries out regular emergency light testing across all campuses, requiring an average of 1000 pages of paper for ticksheets every month. After looking at how to improve their practices, they are now testing recording tests on tablets rather than paper.

By doing this, the CET will save 12,000 sheets of paper per year. This is not only a huge reduction of paper usage, but also prevents nearly one and a half toner cartridges entering the waste stream. This new practice will also save energy and time, as pages will not be printed and scanned afterwards.

This example of King’s staff taking initiative should remind us all that no matter how small we think an action might be, it can add up to a significant impact.

So why not start making small positive changes this week? Our events will give you lots of chances to do so – whether it is learning about proper recycling, going meat-free for a meal, or getting yourself a bike to cycle to uni. The Sustainability Team is looking forward to seeing you at the events!

“Space to Breathe” at Somerset House

Last weekend, visitors to Somerset House could enjoy a series of interactive installations around the topic of air pollution. Pollution in London regularly exceeds legal limits, often due to the heavy traffic. The Space to Breathe exhibition aimed to raise awareness of this important issue by making it accessible to people.

BackPack2SmallThe exhibition was curated by Cape Farewell and Shrinking Space, in partnership with the Environmental Research Group (ERG) here at King’s College London. The ERG also run the LondonAir website, giving Londoners up-to-date information about the air we are breathing on a daily basis.

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Wearing the “Voyage on the Planet” backpack

One of the most striking pieces of the exhibition was Chih Chiu’s “Voyage on the Planet”: a glass backpack with a plant inside, connected to a facemask to block out surrounding pollution. Visitors were encouraged to try it out themselves, and to take it outside to the streets of London. Cape Farewell and Shrinking Space posted photos of this throughout the weekend. I also got the chance to try one of the backpacks, which did make me think about what I breathe in every day – even when just crossing Waterloo Bridge!

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Cycling to run the bar

By using VR headsets, the exhibition also offered to experience what the Aldwych could look like in a greener future: think lorries and cars replaced by pedestrians and green space. Artist Caroline Wright asked people to sing a single note to see how where they live affects their lung volume, and to collate the voices of visitors in a single Sounding Scape. On the Terrace, Solar Sound System ran a bar powered on solar energy and bicycles: two people cycle to keep the music on, while to more cycle to get the juice presses working.

Air pollution is something that is largely invisible, especially when it comes to NO₂. Throughout the weekend, the artists and experts at Space to Breathe made it visible through the different installations. Photos of the whole weekend can be found by visiting Cape Farewell, Shrinking Space, Cultural King’s and LondonAir.

Sustainability Week: 6-10 February

The Sustainability Team’s aim is to reduce consumption within King’s College London. We work with students and staff to reduce our impact on our surrounding social and natural environments.

The annual Sustainability Week aims to highlight the potential of embedding sustainability into daily university life. King’s has invited charities, NGOs and ethical brands to your local campus Sustainability Roadshow to showcase their work and provide opportunities for you to get involved with.

There are a number of opportunities for you to get involved, whether that is trying vegan food, attending a documentary screening, helping clean plastic from the Thames, fixing yourself a new outfit at a clothes swap shop or bagging a second-hand bicycle from a bike auction.  For all events, check out the calendar below (scroll down for more details on the individual events).

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 Click on the schedule for a higher definition. 

More information:

06-Feb, 12.00-14.00 King’s College VegFest

A vegan lunch exploring plant-based foods.

06-Feb, 18.00-19.30 Careers in Sustainability: Sustainability and the Environment

A panel event to discuss current and future careers in sustainability and the environment.

07-Feb, 18.00-19.30 Careers in Sustainability: Corporate Social Responsibility

A discussion of the role sustainability plays within the private sector and the positive contribution businesses can make to enabling environmental sustainability.

08-Feb, 18.30-20.00 Panel Debate: Overconsumption versus Overpopulation

A panel debate discussing the true driver of environmental, social and economic disorder in the 21st century: is it overpopulation or overconsumption?

09-Feb, 18.30-21.30 Film Screening: Tomorrow (2015)

A 2015 French documentary film directed by Cyril Dion and Mélanie Laurent. Faced with a future that scientists say is a great cause for concern, the film has the distinction of not giving in to catastrophism.

10-Feb, 12.30-14.00 Talk: Why should health professionals care about climate change?

A seminar discussion showcasing different perspectives on the response of the health community to climate change.

King’s hosts global sustainability workshop

Last week saw King’s College London host members of the Global Consortium for Sustainability Outcomes (GCSO).

The GCSO is an organisation made up of 11 world-leading universities, including King’s, aiming to create solutions to global sustainability problems through research, development and capacity building. Combatting climate change and working towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals requires innovative new solutions, and universities are often where these solutions are made – by academics and students alike. While each university might be able to drive change locally on its own, coming together to simultaneously implement solutions across the world can take these ideas to the next level.

The GCSO Network of universities

The GCSO Network of universities (Source: GCSO website)

King’s is a founding member of the GCSO and represented through Chris Mottershead, Vice Principal (Research and Innovation) and member of the College Council. This demonstrates the University’s commitment to sustainability, not only through improvement of day-to-day operations, but also at a senior strategic level.

Within the GCSO, several topic groups were set up to develop projects. The group that met at King’s last week is aimed at sustainability solutions related to energy, water and waste, that can be scaled from university campuses to the wider urban and rural environments. Representatives of the following universities were present:

The aim of the three-day workshop was to agree on their first joint project. With each of the universities presenting their own project proposal, the workshop showed the variety of innovative sustainability solutions discussed around the globe.

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The attendees of the GCSO workshop

Impressed with the quality of all proposals, the attendees of the workshop decided to combine aspects of each to develop a new, joint project – a toolkit to transform university campuses into ‘living labs’. In these living labs, academics, communities and other stakeholders come together to test new ideas and technologies. If the test proves to be successful, it can be replicated elsewhere. Any changes within the ‘living lab’ campuses will be monitored and evaluated using quantitative aand qualitative measures developed at the GCSO institutions. This way, universities can ensure that operations and users of buildings do not experience any negative impacts as a result of the “experiment”.

King’s has agreed to be one of several test sites for the first GCSO project, exploring energy-savings around hot water. If successful, this project could save 3-4% of the university’s annual CO₂ emissions, bringing King’s closer to its 43% reduction by 2020 target. Details on what exactly students and staff can expect from the project will be announced at a later stage, so look out for further information!

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The GCSO links to SDG 11, 12 and 17

With the first one-year pilot project due to kick off in the next few months, we are hoping that this global collaboration will continue to deliver innovative solutions over the coming years. The workshop saw so many exciting proposals to improve sustainability, it is without doubt that this first GCSO project will not remain the only one.

More information on the GCSO can be found on the organisations website.

The GCSO projects links to UN Sustainable Development Goals 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals). More on the Sustainable Development Goals here

Sustainability Week events announced!

As you might have seen across our social media channels, we have announced the details of Sustainability Week 2017, which will take place from the 6th to the 10th of February.

Under the theme of ‘Waste not, want not’, we are organising a week of exciting events with King’s Money Mentors, Careers & Employability, charities, ethical brands and student societies. Highlights include a Sustainability Roadshow visiting all campuses, bike auctions, panel debates and careers events focused on careers in sustainability. Check out the detailed timetable of all events below:

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For more information, including links to Facebook events, head to this page. We hope to see you at some of our events!

Take a break and visit Kew Gardens

This is no ordinary stroll around some shrubs. These aren’t your bog-standard gardens

Kew Gardens are also known as the Royal Botanic Gardens. Just 30 minutes from Central London, Kew Gardens boasts landscapes, glasshouses, historic buildings and a vast range of rare and beautiful plants. Its scientific and botanical centre has been and still is of huge importance worldwide. In 2003, Kew Gardens became a United Nations World Heritage Site.

Open all year round, the Gardens cover over 300 acres, on the south bank of the River Thames, between Richmond and Kew . They were originally home to two estates – Kew Estate and Richmond Estate – which were combined to form the Royal Botanic Gardens.

The formal gardens are, of course, a major attraction, each specially planted and themed. They include the Azalea Garden, the walled Duke’s Garden, the grandly-named Palm House Partierre, the Queen’s Garden, the Rock Garden, plus the Plant Family Beds and Rose Pergola.

Aside from the gardens, there are many other attractions to enjoy. In particular, make sure to look out for the Henry Moore Sculpture, the Japanese Gateway, the Pagoda (this 50 metre high octagonal structure dates back to 1762), of course Kew Palace and the Royal Kitchens.

And if you’re after more than a jaunt around the gardens, Kew also hosts a number of special events, throughout the year. Naturally, there are events focusing on plants and flowers, but if an open-air concert and picnic is more your scene, it’s worth checking out Kew The Music. And if you prefer movies to music, keep an eye out for Kew The Movies, which sees Kew Gardens turn into an outdoor cinema for one weekend.

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