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.
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 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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, confirming which of the days – or both – you are able to attend.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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”
January 19, 2018 / / Comments Off on Join us for the launch of Re-energise at Guy’s and Waterloo campuses
Join us for the launch of Re-energise and the film screening of An Inconvenient Sequel Truth to Power.
The Re-energise campaign aims to reduce energy use and save carbon at New Hunt’s House and Franklin-Wilkins Building, at the Guy’s and Waterloo campuses. The launch event is taking place at New Hunt’s House on the 26th January.
A range of energy saving measures have been completed, with more to follow, that will reduce carbon emissions and energy costs in New Hunt’s House and Franklin-Wilkins Building. These include the installation of LED lighting and behind the scenes measures such as the optimising controls for heating and air conditioning. However, Re-energise also needs the support of students, staff and other building users to meet the ambitious targets for energy reduction and build on the great work done by the King’s Sustainability Champions.
A decade after An Inconvenient Truth brought the climate crisis into the heart of popular culture, comes the riveting and rousing follow-up that shows just how close we are to a real energy revolution. Former Vice President Al Gore continues his tireless fight, traveling around the world training an army of climate champions and influencing international climate policy.
Cameras follow him behind the scenes — in moments both private and public, funny and poignant — as he pursues the inspirational idea that while the stakes have never been higher, the perils of climate change can be overcome with human ingenuity and passion.
Our goal by 2020 is to ensure that 70% of this waste is recycled. In order to make this happen we have implemented a number of changes. Previously King’s worked with over 40 different contractors in order to dispose of our waste. This year we have worked hard to reduce that down to around 10, the main one of which is Simply Waste. The benefit of working with Simply Waste as one of our primary contractors is not only that they operate a zero waste to landfill policy, but also that every time one of our bins are collected it is weighed so we know exactly how much general waste and recycling we are producing. That data is passed on to us monthly so, crucially, if we implement any new policies or initiative we can see the benefit (or lack of) in real time. In this way it is much easier for us to tell what changes we need to make in order to improve our recycling rates.
So where are we now? Currently we are recycling 39% of our waste, so we still have a way to go before we hit our 60% target!
So how can you help us to improve our recycling rates?
We have this handy A-Z of waste guide which will tell you everything you need to know about disposing of all different kinds of items at King’s
Check out the bin in your areas. Are they correctly labelled with clear signage and is it possible to relabel them so 2/3 of the bins are recycling?
Make sure you and your colleagues are aware of Warp-it, our online sharing platform for office and lab items
If you have any questions about waste and recycling in your area then don’t hesitate to contact us at email@example.com
As King’s gets quieter for the Christmas period, we would like to remind you to turn off all lights and non-essential equipment at the plug if you are the last one to leave the office for the Christmas period.
Please plan how you will shut down all unnecessary equipment in your area of work. Remember to switch off your computer, laptop and monitor, office lights and desk lamp. However, please be cautious with equipment such as fridges, freezers and research equipment. You can contact the Sustainability Champion in your area for more information or if you’re unsure about what action to take. Take a look at our switch off posters for laboratories here, and our offices here.
By switching off your electronics over the Christmas period, you will be helping the university to support its commitment to worldwide environmental responsibilities and the Paris Pledge for Action.
Take time to select a representative in your office to look after the following items:
TV screens and departmental controlled AV equipment in your area
Switch off the hot water boilers, kettles, microwaves and water coolers.
Kitchen area fridge
Empty and switch off or turn the cooling temperature to low.
Printers and photocopiers
Switch off at the socket; a photocopier on standby overnight can use enough energy to make 30 cups of tea.
Switch off at the socket.
Turn off tightly and report dripping taps to the Service Desk.
Windows and office doors
Ensure all are shut firmly.
Fume cupboards and safety cabinets
Please ensure the sash is closed for either equipment. Turn off all safety cabinets. For fume cupboards, clear out if possible, do not leave any equipment in operation, and set your fume cupboard to ‘low-flow’ if applicable.
As a global university, King’s College London is entirely committed to its worldwide environmental responsibilities. King’s is an initial signatory of the Paris Pledge for Action, which supports the agreement made at COP 21 (21stConference of the Parties, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) to limit global temperature rise by less than 2 degrees Celsius.
By switching off your electronics over the Christmas period, you will be helping the university to support these commitments and to achieve its goal to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 43 per cent by 2020 from a 2005/06 baseline.
November 28, 2017 / / Comments Off on Celebrating our Lab Sustainability Champion, Bernard Freeman
Our Sustainability Champions are an essential way for the University to reach its target of achieving a 43% carbon reduction by 2020. With laboratories using 3-10 times more energy per m2 than academic spaces making these areas as sustainable as possible is integral for achieving these targets.
This is why our inspiring Sustainability Champions like Bernard Freeman, the Lab Manager from the Social, Genetic & Developmental Psychiatry Centre are so important. Bernard was nominated for a Green Gown award due to all the amazing work he has done to make King’s labs more sustainable and last week travelled to Manchester for the award ceremony. While Bernard didn’t win on the night we would still like to congratulate Bernard for all the amazing work he has done at King’s.
In this role Bernard has helped to embed sustainability across the department, introducing pioneering sample tracking software which has helped to increase energy and cost efficiency of cold storage. As well as this Bernard helped to reduce waste from over purchasing by introducing a centralised purchasing system for 200 different types of laboratory consumables.
Recognising the lack of training for both staff and students with respect to sustainable practice in laboratories, he engaged the University Sustainability Team to develop training materials. Energy efficiency and sustainable management of waste and resources now form a key component of inducting researchers into his laboratory, and staff leaving the laboratory have continued these practices in laboratories beyond King’s College London.
Well done Bernard, and thanks for all of your hard work!
Professor Ed Byrne, President & Principal of King’s College London, opened the awards by highlighting how important sustainability at all levels is to King’s.
His full speech is now available on our Youtube Channel:
“Thank you Kat Thorne, Tytus, the team, and thank you to all of you who have been involved in this amazingly important work over the last year. You will all have seen Vision 2029, hopefully more than once by now, and […] empathise with the tagline of 2029, ‘To make the world a better place’. And of course, there is no more important way to do that than around the incredibly important agenda of sustainability […], arguably the most important single area the human race needs to do better in.
So, thank you to you all. To our students, to our Champions, and many of you are in the audience. To those supporting them, and to those for whom it is part of their job role: our cleaners, our security, our engineering staff. We are here to celebrate a year of achievement by everyone, and this is an area where individual actions tell the whole story. Individual actions by a large community such as ours add up to make a real difference.
So, what does sustainability mean to King’s, what does it mean to me? It’s so important that everyone in the university buys into this agenda. It’s at all levels – if one believes in levels at a university. It’s bottom-up, it’s top-down, it’s in departments, it’s in professional staff, it’s in academic staff, it’s in our student body; we all have to show commitment in this area. Sustainability is one of the core foundations of Vision 2029, and is integrated throughout this vision, it comes up time and time again. We have a duty, a responsibility, to support and deliver, in a number of domains, against the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. This applies to our research, our education, and to how we run our business, our university operations, I know many of you in this audience who are involved in this area.
As we know, this is important for people of all ages, but it is particularly important to our students. And I think it’s not just because they are young people and are likely to be around for longer and see what happens to the planet over the next 50 years. But it’s because young people have a passion to preserve the environment. We all do, but there’s no doubt it’s developed deeply and strongly in our youth, in this country and around the world. 89% of King’s students, in a recent survey, stated that sustainable development is something universities should actively incorporate in their missions and promote. Our students, in their activities and running societies, in acting as volunteers in so many different areas, in working with the local communities, make a difference around the sustainability agenda. This is incredibly important to our students’ careers and employability, the opportunity to have careers in sustainability, the opportunity to take part in events which are supported by our alumni who are sharing their experiences with our students. So I want to thank our students and our graduates who have worked with the team over the past year, and good fortune to them in the future. Let’s acknowledge them now [applause].
We have to get better at this all the time, there is no room for complacency. But I think we are working to constantly improve the way in which we make sure our students leave this university with the skills and knowledge necessary to be agents of change, and to be able to make a difference in promoting a sustainable world.
Let me turn to research a little more. There are umpteen examples of colleagues working around King’s to address global grand challenges under sustainability theme. I could mention dozens of examples, but I’m just going to mention two or three. The Global Consortium for Sustainable Outcomes (GCSO), where in one project we are carrying out a living lab project in our own buildings to reduce the carbon footprint and the use of hot water – something simple, but complex. And I must mention the PLuS Alliance, because it has been a sort of baby of mine to get this under way. Combining the strengths of three leading research universities on three continents, all with significant activities around the sustainability agenda – Arizona State University (ASU) in Phoenix, King’s in London, and University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia – and focusing many of our colleagues in those universities to work together around the global grand challenges in health, social justice, sustainability, technology and innovation. This is hugely important. We’ve seen great momentum since the launch of PluS last year, we’ve appointed over 100 PLuS fellows working across the three institutions, and the sustainability agenda is the dominant agenda to date – we have 11 research projects with seed funding.
Now, let me move on to another of the key domains which I alluded to briefly: our operations as an institution, because we have to live the dream, we have to do our bit and be an example to others. Sustainability Champions have a crucial role to play in reducing the negative impact of our operations. The Champions know their area best, they can identify positive actions and work with their colleagues to make a real difference in their area. And we have this in spades.
Much of the work we’re going to hear a little bit about is focused on reducing the environmental impact of our research in labs, while also improving the research environment. A laboratory consumes up to 5 times more energy than a typical academic space, therefore actions of Lab Sustainability Champions can have a big impact. We were highly commended at last year’s Green Gown Awards, a major award, for our Sustainability Lab programme. And it’s really great to have worked closely with a university I was a little connected with, UCL, and to have Champions working across King’s and UCL, auditing each other and sharing good practice across these institutions.
I am also delighted to announce that this year our colleagues across Estates & Facilities and the sports grounds have been externally audited, and last month they were accredited in a major programme: the ISO14001 programme, an internationally recognised standard for environmental management. Can you join me in saying well done to everybody who played a role in that achievement [applause].
This year, we’ve had some incredibly engaged colleagues right across the university, truly making a difference in their workplaces. We look forward to celebrating with them shortly, as we celebrate their awards.
Finally, for the next year, this has been an increasingly powerful story at King’s over the last three years. I have no doubt that the coming year will be no different. I am sure that we will perform against our agreed objectives in our Sustainability Charter. One thing I intend to do is report regularly to Council about that now, because we have some momentum around that and I think it has reached that stage. I was reading a university I worked at for many years in Australia, the University of Melbourne, is recycling their office equipment, and they have made and saved a bit of money in this highly sustainable agenda. I was delighted to see on our notice boards that we have saved £40,000 just by recycling office furniture at King’s, which is a phenomenal achievement and exactly the sort of initiative we need to continue.
In my own contribution over the next year, I am going to ensure that as we launch the new King’s Business School as the next Faculty at King’s, sustainable development and educating business people for the future in triple line reporting and in sustainable development will be a key theme of our school, that I want it to become renowned for throughout the world. That again will be a big step forward for King’s.
In summary, it has been a terrific year. Thank you to you all for the contributions you have made, it’s all about you, about what you do and what you achieve. And I think next year, we will continue on this upward curve. Thank you all.”