Category: Community (page 1 of 5)

Plastic free July 2018: what does it take to give up single use plastics?

The following guest blog comes courtesy of Sarah Bailey. Sarah is the Science Liaison, Public Engagement and Communications Manager for the Department  of Twin Research as well as their Sustainability Champion.

For those in the know, July is all about plastic free living. The challenge to ditch plastic for a month, run by the Marine Conservation Society in the UK, has gathered momentum as awareness about plastic pollution has increased.

I attempted Plastic Free July in 2017 but failed miserably. I thought I’d got everything covered, until a friend pointed out on day two that, yes, my toothpaste, moisturiser and shampoo all count as single use plastics. And that was just the tip of a plastic-shaped iceberg.

A year later, I decided I was going to give it a proper attempt. Would I make it through the month? What problems would I encounter? Would I become so desperate for sticky toffee pudding and cream one hungry evening that I’d forsake all my hard work?

Since 2017 I’d already started using a few plastic free alternatives, so I didn’t think it would be too much effort to make the final changes needed. But, of course, things aren’t ever quite that straightforward.

Firstly, there’s the cost. Bulk buy items are more expensive than their plastic wrapped counterparts, so I didn’t immediately replace all my store cupboard items. Loose fruit and veg are also pricey, though I didn’t falter and reach for the plastic covered stuff. Plastic free toilet roll is extortionate, so much so I didn’t even consider buying it.

Some things are just hard to buy plastic free. Cheese is one example, and boy, do I love cheese. My local cheese shop did put my purchases in paper bags, but when it’s cut from a big block wrapped in cling film it seems to miss the point. Yoghurt is a tough one too, but you can easily make your own.

There were some unexpected twists, of course. My Lush deodorant left me with a painful rash after a week of use, sending me back to my regular plastic-covered brand, and getting to the bar at a busy pub after an evening at the cricket resulted in a pint in a plastic cup. Sigh.

 

                                               Sarah’s plastic free swaps

It’s not all doom and gloom though; whilst many plastic free alternatives aren’t cheap, they do last a long time. My well-used first shampoo bar lasted six months, and my weird, grey, but utterly delicious Truthpaste will last me a while too.

There are also plenty of changes I’ve made very easily and will stick to. My shampoo bars, metal safety razor, ecoffee cup and shopping bags are all here to stay. Milk deliveries are oh-so-convenient, meaning I definitely won’t go back to plastic-covered milk.

I’ll keep shopping at my local fishmongers who give discounts for bringing your own containers, and I’ll even keep buying (some) bulk buy items from my nearest zero waste shop. Loose leaf tea from my local tea shop is also a winner; how I’ve missed using a teapot!

Living plastic free takes a lot of planning, at least at first. In our age of convenience, doing a weekly food shop is from a bygone age. There’s also a certain amount of willpower needed (Did I cave and buy sticky toffee pudding and cream one evening? Yes, yes I did), and the acceptance that for now, at least, plastic alternatives often cost more.

One thing’s for certain though; plastic pollution won’t go away with consumer action alone. I’ll keep doing what I can, and hopefully more people will too, but what’s urgently needed is action from legislators and manufacturers to remove single use, non-recyclable and non-biodegradable plastics from our shelves, for good.

King’s Sustainability Awards 2018

It’s been a busy year and last week on 10 July we had the pleasure of celebrating the achievements of everyone who has been actively involved in sustainability over the past year here at King’s.

The annual King’s Sustainability Awards ceremony took place at Bush House and we celebrated the passion and commitment of the 235 Sustainability Champions who have carried out 1,950 sustainability actions, nearly 500 more than the previous year.

45 Sustainability Champion Teams were awarded: 16 Bronze, 11 Silver and 18 Gold Awards.


We also celebrated with Special Awards for other staff and students from across the university who have worked to embed sustainability across operations, teaching and the wider King’s community.

Working Towards Gold: 1st Floor James Black Center Labs
Best at Recruiting New Champions: Cardiology, Pharmacy Teaching
Outstanding Achievement: 5th Floor JCMB, The Dickson Poon School of Law
Supporting King’s Food in the Sustainable Restaurant Association: Ali Hepple & Izzy Brayshaw
Supporting the Analysis of Sustainability Data: Analytics
Commitment to Embedding Sustainability: Operational Assurance
Commitment to Sustainability: Bouygues, CIS, Procurement, Servest
Commitment to Waste Reduction and Re-Use (via Warp It): Bush House Project Team
Commitment to Sustainability as Energy Champions: Abdul Lateef, Graham Camplin, Kurosh Bastani, Nick Gouveia
Consistently Achieving Highest Monthly Recycling Rates: King’s Sport
Commitment to Sustainable Campus Refurbishment: Natalie Littleson
Working to Embed Sustainability in Capital Development: Olga Ezquieta
Commitment to Implementing Sustainable Lab Practices: Oliver Austen
Commitment to Sustainability & Wellbeing: Robert Staton
Most Improved Recycling Rates: Stamford Street Apartments
Commitment to Biodiversity: Stuart Bailey
Going Above & Beyond: Library Services

Sustainability Awards 2018 – Staff and student champions

Serve to shape and transform

We welcomed Professor Jonathan Grant, Vice President & Vice Principal (Service) who thanked all involved for being the ones to motivate others and to stand up and make a difference to the environment and our local communities around King’s.  ‘Service’ is the term we adopted at King’s in our Strategic Vision 2029 to describe our commitment to society beyond the traditional roles of education and research. Professor Grant shared details of the King’s Service Strategy framework and explained that the Sustainability Champions are an integral part of the framework.   The Service Strategy framework will be launched and celebrated on 19 July and all King’s staff and students are welcome to attend.

Sustainability is important to our students

As part of the event we celebrated our students who’ve been involved with a video showcasing their actions over the past year which includes working with King’s Food as Sustainable Food Assistants, auditing our Sustainability Champions teams, taking part in Student Switch Off actions and competitions in King’s Residences, working as Sustainable Food Assistants and running social enterprises such as Zest and Fetch Ur Veg- who offer weekly organic veg box deliveries.

National Sustainability Awards

We saved a surprise for Awards day and our Library Sustainability Champions teams found out  that they had been nominated as finalists at the national EAUC Green Gown Awards, recognising the impact that they have had by making the libraries more sustainable for both staff and students. This year we now have 3 finalists at the Green Gown Awards, including Widening Participation’s Parent Power project and King’s Food for their work on ditching disposables.

THANK YOU

Thank you once again to everyone who has helped us make a difference here at King’s this year. The efforts of all those involved really do add up and help to achieve our university sustainability targets. Achievements this year include:

  • 30% carbon reduction achieved (by July 2017) which is keeping us on track to achieve the 43% carbon reduction goal by 2020 (2017/18 figures will be shared once available)
  • Improving waste recycling rates by nearly 10%
  • Reusing furniture and equipment internally at King’s – saving it from disposal and saving £96k in 2017/18
  • 36 events held by staff and students in Sustainability Week and Reduce Waste Week

If you would like to find out more about becoming a Sustainability Champion contact the Sustainability Team at sustainability@kcl.ac.uk.

Training as a Climate Reality Leader

Hello from Maria from the King’s Sustainability team! For today’s blog, I wanted to share an exciting event I attended over the last three days.

This week, I attended the Climate Reality Project Leadership Corps Training. The three day event is organised by the Climate Reality Project, founded by former US Vice President Al Gore. Its aim is to train people from all over the world to be leaders in the fight against climate change, and the training events were featured in 2017’s ‘An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power’.

In Berlin, over 600 new Climate Reality Leaders were trained over three days. The days included a number of presentations and panel debates on climate change and issues around it. As the first day of the training coincided with the first meeting of the German Coal Commission, coal was one of the key themes during the event. A panel on how Germany – and the rest of Europe – can leave coal behind in favour of renewables included an emotional account from a citizen whose village is due to make way for an expanding coal mine. You can read more about Germany’s disappearing villages here. Despite the need for Europe to move away from coal, another panel acknowledged the challenges countries relying on coal for energy face in their transition. Many European countries will need to look at how they can turn their economy around while ensuring former coal industry workers are ready to move into jobs in other industries.

One highlight of the training was to see Al Gore present his now famous slide deck on the climate crisis and its solutions. For over two hours, he explained the science behind climate change, the impact it has on the world right now – and will likely have in the future – and the solutions that already exist. While countless images of environmental destruction and disasters around the world may make it seem like there is no hope, recent developments in renewable energy show that it is not too late to change our path. For example, in June 2017 Scotland sourced 100% of its electricity from wind power for a whole month, and countries around the world are scaling up their solar capacity. In the UK, countless local authorities have pledged to go 100% renewable in the future. Hope was a defining theme of the training, with presenters and panellists reminding the trainees that it is possible to tackle the climate crisis.

A particularly inspiring moment showing changing attitudes was during a Q&A session on the climate crisis presentation. When the audience was asked to raise their hand if they do not own a car, the majority of the room raised their hand. You can see a picture of this moment here.

As a now newly trained Climate Reality Leader, I am excited to go out and campaign on climate change. Climate Reality Leaders are asked to complete Acts of Leadership following their training, which can include anything from giving a presentation to writing a letter to their elected representatives. The Leadership Corps is also a thriving community, with regional and local chapters organising meetings, and assisting and mentoring one another to tackle climate change together. This community element was also central to the three days of training, with each of us encouraged to meet and connect with fellow Climate Reality Leaders from around the world. It was inspiring to see so many people from different industries and all ages coming together to solve one big challenge!

If this has inspired you to become a Climate Reality Leader yourself, you can follow Climate Reality on Facebook and Twitter to make sure you don’t miss any upcoming trainings. The next one is due to take place in Los Angeles in August, with applications open now.

Thank you for a successful Reduce Waste Week

Well, what a week. We in the Sustainability Team had a raucous time shouting about waste as part of our Reduce Waste Week. Our aim was to reach out to the idle public and hit them with games, workshops and community events to engage, shock, and enlighten them to the growing waste problem and the need to REDUCE the amount we create in our everyday lives. Waste is a choice and not a given so we armed ourselves with facts, ideas and a giant raspberry costume and delved headfirst into the King’s community.

Our first event was a workshop on making your own toiletries. This DIY Lush event was fabulous with Sophia concocting a dreamy coconut and coffee grounds face scrub and a pure peppermint and bicarb toothpaste. All made with natural ingredients and in re-usable pots so we can say goodbye to Colgate and toothpaste tubes!

Our second event was the incredible Disco Soup. What is a Disco Soup you might ask? Well, we make soup – to Disco music! We hooked up with Plan Zheroes to scour Borough Market for food that was going to be thrown away by street vendors and collect it for donation. We then scurried back to set up shop in The Shed and had student volunteers prepare the veg while the marvellous SU chef cooked up a carrot soup, mushroom soup and coleslaw. We also manage to get our hands on two bins bags of artisan bread which usually sells at £4 a pop! It’s incredible the amount of food is thrown away – 25% of all farmed food is thrown away!!

Interspersed with these events we had pop-ups where we highlighted the issue of single-use items and how, if they’re not recycled or re-used, can stay in the environment for hundreds if not millions of years!!

In between all of this we were dressing up as fruit and pratting around, having a good time raising awareness about waste and how the only real way to solve the waste problem is to not create it in the first place.

Gain experience as an environmental auditor

The Sustainability Team is currently looking for volunteers to help with the environmental audits of our Office Staff Sustainability Champions on the 21st and 22nd of May. All volunteers will receive IEMA approved training and audit two staff champions. This is an opportunity to get training and auditing experience, valuable for future careers in sustainability and employability in general.

Both days will be split into two parts. The morning will consist of an IEMA approved training session. This will be followed by the auditing sessions, where volunteers will be paired up and visit Champions Teams to evaluate how they meet our sustainability criteria. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.

To find out more and sign up, please email sustainability@kcl.ac.uk, confirming which of the days – or both – you are able to attend.

Our Fundraising and Supporter Development Sustainability Champions are raising the bar

This week’s guest blog comes courtesy of Zoe Long. Zoe is a MA student studying Climate Change: History, Culture and Society at King’s.

The Sustainability Champions from the Fundraising and Supporter Development Team have been working incredibly hard all year to reduce their office’s impact on the environment. This year they are working towards the Silver Sustainability Champion Award. Their Chair Caitlyn Lindsay took some time to explain what they’ve been up to.

The Fundraising and Supporter Development Department raise money for the university and affiliated hospitals including Guy’s Cancer Centre, Evelina Children’s, Maudsley Mental Health and St Thomas. The team is comprised of around 120 staff in the Virginia Woolf Building and raise money through a series of events, alumni funding and telephone campaigns.

The Sustainability Champions’ main focus has been raising awareness of environmental issues and the small ways people can make a change but have a big impact. Some of the events organised this year include:

  • Swap Shop: A clothing exchange to recycle wearable but unwanted clothes, finding them a new home and reducing waste going to landfill. This provides also great alternative to buying new items. Money raised from this event was donated to Crisis to buy a safe place for someone stay at Christmas. Any leftover clothes were donated to Smart Works and Oxfam.
  • Craft Fair: Fabric scraps and coffee pods were recycled, crafted and sold in aid of Evelina Children’s Hospital. Another great idea to divert materials from the waste stream.
  • January Walking Challenge: To beat the January blues staff in the office were challenged to walk the furthest, competing both individually and in teams. The initiative was a real success, spawning some healthy competition and encouraging people to swap their commute or get off a few stops earlier. Walking is good for the body, mind and planet!
  • Food Bank Collection: A drive for dry goods and sanitary products saw two boxes of goods being donated to the Waterloo food bank just in time for Christmas.
  • Air Quality Monitoring: The Team is taking part in a Citizen Science scheme run by Friends of the Earth in collaboration with King’s College London to measure air quality in London. Look out for the test tube on Kingsway measuring the air pollution score. The scheme is also designed to prompt thinking about the ways in which we can improve air quality in the city.

Sustainability Week saw the Champions make a special effort to reduce the office’s impact on the environment, events included:

  • Meatless Monday Lunch: Exploring meat-free diets to reduce stress on the planet’s environmental resources.
  • Plastic Free Tuesday Quiz: An interactive way to raise awareness of the many ways in which we can cut down on our plastic use.
  • Power Down Friday: A push to switch off monitors as well as computers at the end of the week to save power. This raises awareness of the many ways in which energy is being consumed in

So far the efforts have been enthusiastically received in the office. Next year the team is aiming to build on their success and achieve the Sustainability Champion Gold Award by focusing on procurement, consumption, and reducing printing.

IT Sustainability Champions try the Iron Veggie Challange

This year for Sustainability Week our Sustainability Champions outdid themselves, hosting events, bake sales and litter picks, showing that no effort is too small to make a difference.

Our Sustainability Champion for IT at Drury Lane tells us all about what they did for Sustainability Week:

This week’s guest blog comes courtesy of Ioannis Golsouzidis. Ioannis is a Graduate Analyst for IT.

(The views presented do not necessarily reflect those of King’s Sustainability.)

Towards the end of November, the Head of Sustainability, Kat Thorne, joined the IT All Hands conference to encourage us all to sign up as Sustainability Champions. A group was formed shortly thereafter and we were keen to get underway in trying to achieve the Bronze award by May 2018 (in order to achieve the award, we have to meet the criteria set out in the Champions Workbook e.g. ‘actively promoting alternatives to the use of disposable water bottles.’)

Since forming the team, we have had our CIO sign our pledge, sent out communications to staff to power off non-essential equipment over Christmas, implemented waste paper trays in printing rooms around our department, changed some of our suppliers to more sustainable alternatives and, of course, planned some stuff for Sustainability Week amongst other things!

As part of the Sustainability Week, we organised several initiatives in order to help us reach our ambition of securing the Bronze award. After seeking some advice from the Sustainability team, we themed our week around vegetarianism (as eating less meat helps to reduce our carbon footprint) and here is how people got involved:

  1. InstaVeggie: All staff were encouraged to try eating a vegetarian/vegan lunch at least once during the week of 12th-16th February and send a picture of the dishes that had inspired them to do so. All participants got a small prize.
  2. Iron Veggie Challenge: Staff were challenged eat a vegetarian/vegan lunch for all 5 days and there were special prizes for those who sent in pictures.
  3. Sustainability Lunch: We organised a lunch at Sagar Covent Garden (a vegetarian restaurant) on the 15th February 2018 as a get together for staff across the department.

 

Here is what people thought of the initiatives:

“I really enjoyed the veggie week. I’d just completed veganuary so it was a great reason to keep up eating no meat.”

“I’d failed in my bid to do a dry Jan… so this was the next best thing!  It was easy to do and the people in my team were supportive”

Sustainability Week 2018

Every year we hold Sustainability Week in order to raise awareness and educate staff and students about sustainability at King’s. This year we worked with student groups, King’s departments and external partners to bring to you a week based around the theme of how you can ‘make a difference’. Here are some reflections on the week…

Sustainability Pop up: This year for Sustainability Week we hosted an interactive stall across King’s campuses. We gave you the chance to win a Keep Cup by correctly guessing how long it took everyday items to degrade (many people were shocked to find out that it can take a plastic bottle up to 450 years to degrade!), quizzed you about how to correctly recycle at King’s and played a game to see if staff and students know how to use or special coffee cup bins (remember, #fliptipslip!).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VegFest: Studies show that a veganism can reduce the environmental impact that your diet has, and reducing the amount of milk and dairy we consume can positively affect climate change. In collaboration with EcoSoc we hosted a VegFest with free samples of vegan cheese (thanks to Bute Island Food who were also kind enough to donate last year). Students and staff brought delicious dishes for everyone to try, talked about the environmental impact of the food we eat and discussed the issues surrounding veganism.

Careers Events: Sustainability is more and more becoming an integral part of business and big organisations. King’s Careers and Employability hosted a successful event during Sustainability Week with guests from law firm Allen & Overy, Good Business and our Head of Sustainability Kat Thorne. The event was designed to help students understand how they can find internships and develop their career in sustainability. For more information please visit King’s Internships.

Cycling: In the Sustainability Team we do everything we can to promote cycling at King’s. Because of this we held four Dr Bike sessions. These sessions provided free bike checks to students and staff throughout the week. Mechanics changed bike pads, checked chains and for whatever they couldn’t fix, gave accurate quotes for how much it should cost to get repaired.

Geography Documentary Screening: The Geography Department Sustainability Champions and King’s Climate hosted a film screening of former US Vice President and environmental activist Al Gore’s latest film ‘An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power’. A panel beforehand made up to PhD students, lecturers and Dr George Adamson  discussed our response to climate change and the best ways to tackle the issue.

GoodGym: King’s GoodGym is a community of runners that combines getting fit with doing good. For this session the runners went to Oasis Farm Waterloo, and urban farm and community resource, to help to make planters for trees. King’s GoodGym is a great way to get fit and to also to help the local community. Read more about the Sustainability Week session on our blog.

Temple Gardening Club Winter Pruning: We teamed up with the Northbank BID to bring you this gardening session at Temple gardens. Staff and students braved the cold weather to prune rose bushes ready for regrowth in the spring.

SGDP Sustainable Labs Tour: Labs consume 3-10 times more energy per square metre than normal academic spaces like lecture theatres or offices. As a research university, King’s manages a variety of energy-intensive labs across its campuses, which is why it’s so important to make our labs as sustainable as possible. This tour of the laboratory at the Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry Centre was led by Bernard Freeman, Lab Sustainability Champion. The SGDP lab has achieved a Gold Award at the 2017 King’s Sustainability Awards, and Bernard was a Finalist in the 2017 Green Gown Awards for his efforts in embedding sustainability into labs.

This year Sustainability Week was all about how you can make a difference, which you showed us you can do in so many ways! From volunteering, bringing in homemade vegan food to finding out how you can develop your career in sustainability, you showed us exactly what the King’s Community is capable of!

It’s Fairtrade Fortnight! Join us this Friday for an event to celebrate Fairtrade

Fairtrade Fortnight puts a spotlight on trade, and the benefits fair and ethical trade has on the lives of farmers and workers who grow our food.  It takes place from the 26th February to the 11th March 2018, with a variety of events happening around the UK – including at King’s. 

The King’s Sustainability Team is excited to welcome Ketra Kyosiimire from the Ankole Coffee Producer’s Cooperative Union Ltd (ACPCU) in Uganda to King’s for this Fairtrade Fortnight event.  

Ketra is ACPCU’s accountant, giving her an oversight of all coffee production and sales, Fairtrade contracts and investment of the Fairtrade Premium in business improvements and community development. She’s also a farmer herself, and will speak about her experience of international trade and the difference Fairtrade can make from the producer’s perspective.  

ACPCU is an organisation supporting 17 Fairtrade certified cooperatives across southwest Uganda. There is a mixture of subsistence and commercial farmers in these multi-ethnic communities. Agriculture is the main source of income, and with assistance from Cafedirect, they have organised into a strong Union. They have created job opportunities, involved women and youth in their activities, and developed skills and long-term peace in their communities. ACPCU members now manage their coffee from farm to export; by avoiding intermediaries, members can maximise their incomes.  

The event will take place in Bush House, South Wing, 2.01/02 from 16:00-17:00 on Friday, 2nd March. Please sign up at https://fairtradefortnightkings.eventbrite.co.uk/ 

 

Thank you for a successful Sustainability Week and well done to our GoodGym participants

Thank you so much to everyone who helped us to put on events, chatted to us during our pop ups and helped us to spread the sustainability message throughout King’s. The success of Sustainability Week 2018 wouldn’t have been possible without you all and we in the Sustainability Team are grateful to everyone who participated. We will be bringing you blog posts about all of the different events from the week, and to start of we have a recap of the King’s GoodGym run to the Oasis Waterloo Farm.

The following guest blog comes courtesy of Alyx Murray-Jackman. Alyx is a Sport Participation Coordinator for King’s Sports.

(The views presented do not necessarily reflect those of King’s Sustainability.)

Tonight we visited Oasis Farm Waterloo, an urban farm and community resource in Waterloo, a hidden gem just moments from the Southbank, and the closest farm to Parliament. We also managed to run 4km and fit in a quick but tough circuits session.

Joining us for their first ever GoodGym group run, we had the amazing RajmundAnnaGeorgiaOctavia and Theo (wow so many!) – give them a cheer for coming out in the cold and using their run to do some good. As well as welcoming these fab runners we also heard about the Long Run taking place in South London this weekend for anyone that’s about, and a little reminder of the Thursday running fitness session happening in Vauxhall this week.

As well as braving the cold, here at GoodGym King’s we also had to brave the busy Waterloo Bridge Commute as we couldn’t head out over Blackfriars Bridge as usual due to the location of the task. We practiced our dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge techniques and headed out. With everyone safely over the bridge, we made quick work of the rest of the journey down to the farm and met Roddy outside.

The task: The super organised Roddy split us up into groups when we arrived and showed us each to a planter – we needed to remove all the soil, take out all the bricks, move the planter, and then re-fill it with the bricks and soil – we had a tough 40 minutes ahead of us with a good arm workout! Between us we managed to fully move a couple of planters and make a great start on 2 or 3 more which some volunteers are going to finish off in the morning. I think the sounds of the animals settling down for sleep helped us work hard (especially the pigs from the Pig Palace!).

Roddy kindly let us use the farm’s new barn for our fitness session as it started to rain. We went through questions like “are you scared of spiders?”, “have you eaten any pancakes already today?” and “do you cycle to work?” – if you answered yes to the question you had a 40 second strength exercise to do, if you answered no then it was a 40 second cardio exercise.

After lots of squats, high knees and mountain climbers (great suggestion Sophie!), we were ready to head back to King’s. We waved goodbye to Roddy with promises of coming back soon to help with more tasks (hopefully in slightly warmer weather)! We ran back a slightly longer route, with slightly better views, over Westminster Bridge and did some stretches back at the base.

Credit to Gosia for the pun!

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