Category: Sustainability (page 1 of 16)

Blog Series: SDG 2 – Food is Life

This week’s guest blog comes third in a series of blogs on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) courtesy of Onna Malou van den Broek, second year doctorate student at King’s in the European & International Studies Department. Onna’s doctorate project titled: ‘The Political Payoff of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): CSR as a Determinant for Lobbying Success’,  looks at the relationship between corporate sustainability and lobbying, holding a special focus on the SDGs.  

Are you ready to rescue food? That is the motto of a Dutch restaurant called ‘InStock’. In response to the fact that one third of food production is wasted, they decided to create dishes solely with the unsold products from local supermarkets (1). Although we produce enough food to feed everyone, one in nine people (815 million) still go to bed on an empty stomach. After a period of decline, world hunger is on the rise again because of conflict, droughts and disasters.

The Targets: Ending Hunger and Achieving Food Security

The targets underpinning SDG 2 address the access to and production of food, while supporting rural development and protecting the environment. By 2030, all people must have access to safe and nutritious food, and all forms of malnutrition must be ended. Malnutrition can, amongst other things, lead to growth cessation for young children and unborn babies. Furthermore, the agricultural productivity and income of small-scale food producers must be doubled in a sustainable way. Importantly, food production must be able to maintain ecosystems and the diversity of seeds, plants and animals, whilst being resilient to climate changes. Additionally, investments in agricultural should be strengthened, trade restrictions corrected, and extreme food price volatility limited.

The Situation: From Hunger to Health?

If current trends continue, the targets set in SDG 2 will be largely missed by 2030 (2). Malnutrition sits awkwardly with the large amount of food waste and increased levels of overnutrition and obesity. There are large in-country and intra-country differences, most notably between developed and developing countries. In the later, almost 13 percent of the people are undernourished, with peaks in Asia (33 percent) and Sub-Saharan Africa (23 percent). Alarmingly, poor nutrition is still the case of nearly half of deaths in children under five. To increase food security, governments must top up their spending on small farms, crop diversity and women’s access to agricultural resources.

 

The food security crisis in Yemen

An occurrence of food insecurity which illustrates the link with conflict and climate change, is Yemen (3). Yemen is ravaged by ongoing levels of conflict between the Yemen Government, backed-up by Saudi-Arabia, and Al Houthi opposition forces. Although the food security crisis in Yemen has been building up since 2004, recently the country has started to receive media attention as the situation was officially classified as a famine. Depreciation of the Yemeni riyal (YER) has resulted in continuously increasing prices of food and fuel, mainly affecting vulnerable parts of the population. The situation has been worsened due to the Tropical Cyclone Luban and the second outbreak of cholera. Of the 29.3 million inhabitants, approximately 17.8 million are food-insecure with 8.4 million severe cases. Without international action, the prognosis is that the crisis will deepen even further…

Universities Creating Partnerships for Zero Hunger

A Conference at the University of Wageningen (4) posed the question: How can we create partnerships that can rid the world of hunger and malnutrition? Insights included that there is a need for a good institutional environment allowing farmers to practice sustainable agriculture. What is more, malnutrition is not only an issue in developing countries. Even though healthy food might be available, it can be affordable to certain communities or there is a lack of knowledge on how to differentiate between unhealthy and healthy options.  Interestingly, Lawrence Haddad, director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, emphasized on making hunger uncomfortable for governments: “hunger and malnutrition are the result of choices about how we use our scarce resources. You can choose to use those resources differently”.

What can you do?

As a consumer, you have great power to increase food security. Use that power! A great initiative that empowers you to contribute to SDG 2, is the Chefs’ Manifesto Action Plan (5). Although targeted at restaurants, their lessons are relevant for everybody:

  • Know your food. Find information, for example on: (a) the ingredients in your products i.e. are these grown with respect for earth and oceans? Are the products seasonal? (b) the supply chain i.e. how many intermediates are there? How fair are workers’ wages? and (c) animal-welfare of diary, meat and fish products i.e. do producers ensure good living conditions?
  • Buy responsible. With the relevant knowledge, use your purchasing power to ensure sustainable production. Try to buy products from local producers through farmers markets, buy less meat and fish, eat seasonal fruit and vegetables and inform about the products at your favourite restaurant or lunch cafe.
  • Nourish yourself, friends and family. Good nutrition starts with yourself! Ensure your meals are nutritious and share this habit with your environment. And whilst you’re at it, plan your meals so there is no need to waste.

References:

  1. Do you want to know more about this concept? Please visit their website here.
  2. If you want to read more about progress towards SDG 2, you can visit the UN website here or the UNSTAT website here.
  3. To get an overview of the humanitarian and food crisis in Yemen, I used the fact sheet of USAID, which you can read here.
  4. Luckily for you, the whole conference is captured by video and available here.
  5. You can read more on the chef’s manifesto here.

Can fashion be sustainable?

Walking around London, we see countless advertisements for fashion retailers every single day. Especially today, on Black Friday, retailers are doing everything they can to convince us to spend more. But our love for fashion may be harming the environment: reports show that fashion is the 2nd most polluting industry in the world.

To find out more, the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), which is a parliamentary select committee made up of MPs from across the political spectrum, launched an inquiry into the Sustainability of the Fashion Industry. Last week, they held a public evidence hearing at the Victoria and Albert Museum, questioning fashion designers, upcyclers and innovators about how to fix the fashion industry’s environmental impact. We were in the audience for the hearing, and are bringing you our highlights of the morning’s discussions.

Source: Hubbub Foundation

The first thing that became evident was that there is no shortage of challenges to embedding sustainability into fashion. From ‘fast fashion’ being too fast to consider sustainable options to convincing manufacturers to return clothing scraps, fashion brands can face numerous obstacles. The good news is that there are plenty of ideas on how to change this. One interesting challenge is the scraps left over from pattern cutting. Designer Phoebe English told the audience to imagine a t-shirt, and then imagine the piece of fabric it was cut from. While the fabric offcuts used to be a resource and sold, they are now frequently discarded. But innovations are happening. In New York, non-profit organisation FabScrap collects this fabric waste and sells it to makers of all kinds (fashion students, sewists, quilters) at affordable prices. Some brands are also looking into zero-waste pattern cutting, where designs are laid out on the fabric in a way that eliminates cut-offs.

The hearing also showed that it’s not just brands who need to change, but also us consumers. The expert panel explained that even though clothes are becoming cheaper, we are spending more, as fast fashion leads us to buy larger quantities of increasingly disposable clothes. But while buying a new outfit may make us happy, the happiness from a new purchase typically wears off after three days. And if an item breaks, we often throw it away – adding to the tonnes of clothes sent to landfill in the UK every year. While some brands now offer free or paid repair services, this isn’t a widespread practice and the panel of experts felt that this was an area legislation could help push the industry in the right direction. One initiative could be making repairs VAT-free. Another idea was for the government to introduce better labelling for our clothes. In supermarkets, food is labelled with health warnings and information on its origin – but our clothes rarely contain warnings about the harmful chemicals they may have been treated with, or the environmental damage they caused.

Finally, sustainability in the fashion industry is not only about environmental sustainability. Increasingly, consumers want to know more about the social sustainability of their clothes. While the fashion industry provides employment for millions of women around the globe, the jobs are not up to scratch: pay is often poor, while working conditions are bad. Journalist Lucy Siege and founder of Eco-Age Livia Firth both pointed out that cheap clothes are only possible due to exploitation. In addition, Dr Offord MP explained that in a survey of 51 leading UK brands, 71% could not be sure that modern slavery had not occurred at some point in the supply chain. While the Modern Slavery Act was praised by the panel, many felt it does not go far enough in assigning legal responsibility. Organisations like IndustriALL Union are working to ensure garment workers everywhere in the world have the opportunity to join a union and fight for better working conditions.

With all these challenges, what can we as consumers do to make our fashion choices more sustainable?

Based on the information the panelists gave, we have put together our top tips for a more sustainable wardrobe:

  1. Buy less, but better
  • Say no to fast fashion! Try to only buy what you really love and know will wear, and try to buy better quality clothes that you can love for longer. While difficult to do on a student budget, vintage shops, charity shops and resale platforms like Ebay or Depop may help you find some bargains!
  1. Get yourself a new outfit for free
  • If you have some clothes you no longer want, why not try going to a clothes swap? You can usually bring clothes you no longer like, and swap them for other pre-loved items a t a clothes swap near you. If you live in King’s Residences, keep an eye out for any swaps your fellow students or the Residences Team are organising.
  1. It’s not just Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – you can also Rent
  • There are lots of places where you can now rent an outfit for a special occasion rather than buying it new.
  1. Repair and repurpose your clothes
  • If you can, try to repair your clothes instead of throwing them away, or alter them to give them a new look. There are more and more repair cafés popping up around the country, and some brands even offer repairs on their products.
  1. Look behind claims on labels
  • During the hearing, the panel pointed out that while terms like ‘organic cotton’ are protected, claims of ‘sustainable cotton’ may not be. As consumers, we can try to find out what is behind these claims to make sure brands are sticking to what they promise.

If you are interested in finding out more about the inquiry, all the latest information is available on the Environmental Audit Committee webpages. The next public hearing is taking place on the 27th November, and will include witnesses from various fashion retailers.  You can also watch the full footage of this public evidence hearing here.

 

 

 

 

Blog Series: SDG 1 – The Battle Against Poverty

This week’s guest blog comes second in a series of blogs on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) courtesy of Onna Malou van den Broek, second year doctorate student at King’s in the European & International Studies Department. Onna’s doctorate project titled: ‘The Political Payoff of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): CSR as a Determinant for Lobbying Success’,  looks at the relationship between corporate sustainability and lobbying, holding a special focus on the SDGs.  

Poverty in all its forms everywhere is, according to the United Nations (UN), stating that it is one of the biggest challenges of our generation. The good news is that the amount of people living in extreme poverty has relatively decreased from 28 percent in 1999 to 11 percent in 2013. The bad news, however, is that over 896 million people are still living with less than $1.90 per day, mainly within South-Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa (1). Poverty goes beyond the lack of financial resources; it reflects a lack of opportunities, which are often linked to education, healthcare, discrimination and hunger.

 

“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice”

Nelson Mandela

 

 

The Targets: Eradicating Poverty and Creating Social Security

The seven SDG targets that aim to diminish poverty by 2030 include both a financial and a social dimension. A distinction is made between extreme poverty measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day and general poverty measured according to national definitions. Whereas extreme poverty must be overcome completely, general poverty must be halved. On a national level, the targets are three-fold: strengthening the resilience of the poor, particularly in cases of natural disasters; implementing social policies that protect citizen against poverty and; creating equal rights and access to economic resources and services. On an international level, the targets press states to actively mobilize resources that can combat poverty and to create policies that target and benefit the poorest.

Progress? Measuring Regional Inequality

Without measurements there is no knowledge of progress. In the previous blog, I explained that each goal is broken down in targets which are measured by indicators. The UN created a database which tracks down how each country is currently doing on each indicator. Have a look around yourself as this database is accessible for everyone (2). Looking at the data, the general trend seems to be that regional inequality is on the rise. Let’s zoom in on social security, which is crucial to battle poverty. A total of 45 percent of the world’s population has access to at least one type of social insurance. A simple comparison illustrates the imbalance: in Western Europe this percentages is 99, whereas in West Africa it is merely 9 percent.

 

Oxfam and the UN: Business against poverty

There are countless projects that intend to contribute towards SDG 1, but as I specialise in business I would like to focus on the partnership between Oxfam and the UN (3). This partnership aims to make companies aware of their positive and negative impact on local poverty. To accomplish this, they created the so-called ‘poverty footprint’. Through this online tool, companies can begin to understand how they affect poverty and adjust their business operations accordingly. A company that completed the poverty footprint is Unilever. They concluded that by offering more part-time instead of full-time jobs at their manufacture site in Kecap Bango, more people would be helped out of poverty in this Indonesian region. Thus, by measuring their influence on poverty, companies are urged to find innovative solutions.

The situation in Europe

Eurostat, the statistics centre of the European Union (EU), shows that in 2016 over 118 million people were at risk of poverty or social inclusion (see the Figure below). There is a wide disparity within the EU. To illustrate, in Bulgaria almost 42 percent of the population is at risk of poverty or social exclusion. In comparison, in Sweden this percentage is only 14. Furthermore, 36 percent of Greek people live below the national poverty line and 19 percent of Romanian people that are employed still live in poverty. In the UK, child poverty is taking a worrisome number; about 4 million children are classified as poor.

 

 

 

The Fund of Urgent Needs in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands, where I am originally from, does not know extreme poverty. Nonetheless, 10 percent of Dutch citizens live under the national poverty line of 33 euro per day. An organization within the Netherlands that aims to tackle local poverty is the Fund of Urgent Needs (SUN). My mother is the location manager in my home-town Leiden, where SUN offers financial aid to people that are in danger of falling between two stools. She explains that: “our foundation gives to the inhabitant of Leiden, who are in an urgent financial situation and do not apply for governmental help”.

What can you do in the fight against poverty?

The traditional way of donating money is, for the low-budget students, not always a possibility – nor might it be the most effective route. Luckily, there are other ways: you can volunteer at existing programmes, such as Child Poverty Action Group, Oxfam, foodbanks or ONE, or develop your own project at King’s. As poverty is rooted in various related problems, you can think about projects improving general live conditions as well. For example, become a reading helper for children at BeanStalk – with only a few hours a week you can ensure a child can read, grow and thrive!

 

References:

  1. More statistics, data and information on this goal can be found here.
  2. If you want to play a bit around with the target data on country level, you can either go to UNSTAT or the SDG index.
  3. Read more on the poverty footprint at Oxfam’s or the UN’s respectively websites.
  4. Unfortunately, in Dutch, but if you want to learn more about the situation in the Netherlands click here and for the foundation of urgent needs here.

Student Halls Re-Use Scheme

This year, to support King’s in our sustainability strategy and our goal to recycle 70% of our non-hazardous waste by 2019-20, King’s Residences have once again partnered with Better Re-use  to help manage waste generated by students leaving halls of residence for the summer. Better Re-use successfully saved anything from used furniture to bedding and electrical items from going to landfill, allowing these things to live out second lives through partnerships with Oxfam, Shelter and other charitable organisations across London.

How It Worked

Over 13 collections, and with the great assistance and enthusiasm of all Residence Managers, staff, cleaners, volunteers and students involved, Better Re-use collected waste from  our four directly managed halls of residence: Stamford Street, Great Dover Street, Wolfson House and Champion Hill. They then sorted, weighed and arranged the distribution of the materials collected.

Great Results

The partnership was a huge success. This was down to two main factors. First, better communication with students on how to deal with their waste on departure directly led to the substantial quantities gathered. Secondly, our partnership with Better Re-use allowed the re-distribution of duvets, pillows and carbon dense materials that were previously difficult to divert from landfill.

Particular progress was made at Great Dover Street, where more awareness was created via communications from the King’s Residences team. The hall contributed an additional 34% over 2017. Better Re-use estimates that 362 students engaged with the scheme, approx. 23% of total leavers. On average, 2.06kg of waste was received from each student (a 32% increase) and collections overall were up 10%.

 

The Figures

Across the four residences, King’s managed to divert 3,261 kg from landfill – a 10% increase from 2017, diverting 37,611kg CO2e – a 20% increase on the year. This represents a 99% re-use rate, with nothing going to landfill.

 

 

Where Did It All Go?

The re-usable goods collected from our students went to support a variety of charities, including:

Fara (http://www.faracharity.org/)

A charity which supports orphans and vulnerable or neglected children in Romania, providing education, employment training, healing of past trauma and most of all a loving family.

Shelter London (https://england.shelter.org.uk/)

Which works with people suffering bad housing or homelessness.

Bright Sparks Islington (http://directory.islington.gov.uk/kb5/islington/directory/service.page?id=6gvCBq_6XQQ)

Which diverted reusable furniture, small electrical items and bric-a-brac, providing jobs and volunteering opportunities for the socially excluded, or people looking to get back into work.

St Mungo’s East London (https://www.mungos.org/)

Works directly with people who are sleeping rough or in hostels and helping them to rebuild their lives and fulfill their ambitions.

Oxfam (https://www.oxfam.org.uk/)

Oxfam was able to put most of the clothing items up for resale in their shops, while other dirty or damaged clothing items went to their central sorting warehouse to be sent either to shops or to Oxfam projects abroad.

Oxfam said:

The effort that the King’s Residence teams have put into making this a success is amazing, and we look forward to seeing the figures for next year’s big summer clear out!

6 Tips For A Less Trashy Term Time #DontBeTrashy

This week’s guest blog comes courtesy of Ray Hopkinson, Project Coordinator at Hubbub. Hubbub is an environmental charity which works on engaging the public on social and environmental sustainability issues using a fresh approach to communicate with the public. As part of her role, Ray has worked with a number of companies to reduce food waste, for example, on Sainsbury’s ‘Waste Warriors’ initiative.

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

6 Tips for a Less Trashy Term Time

September always makes me a bit nostalgic for the start of a new academic year and those heady days of fresher’s week, new mates, and a world of possibilities. Whether you’re heading off to student halls, a shared house or left university some time ago and are dreaming of those good-old days, these tips will help you save money and time and reduce rubbish around the home. Some of you will be keen for your new home to be as green as possible, but might find it a bit hard to get others on board and do it in a way that is fun and basically doesn’t kill the vibe! So if you want to win the war on rubbish, stay popular and have a good time, read on:

 

  • Plan- Think about your meals in advance. Try batch-cooking and use the leftovers for lunch or a quick meal another day. Batch cooking makes it easy to use up any veg, making it less likely to hang around and go mouldy (bringing your own lunch can also save you serious money in the canteen). The good news, is that leftovers taste even better the next day, and you’ll be really surprised how much you can save weekly and put towards your going out budget.

 

  • Communal Cooking- Coordinate meals and shopping with your house mates.  Share a fruit and vegetable box or cook a meal for everyone.  University can be lonely, but cooking a meal for your housemates or having friends over for dinner can be a great distraction to feeling homesick.

 

  • Skip the Takeaway- Takeaway meals can really eat up your budget and generate lots of single-use waste. Not to worry, we’ve re-created England’s favourite take-away recipes for you to make at home. These are both healthier and significantly cheaper than the late night takeout alternatives.

 

  • Don’t Put Money Down the Drain- Our bathroom regimes are responsible for 30 to 40 per cent of rubbish dumped in to the ground, so try swapping the shower gel for a much cheaper and longer lasting bar of soap, and you might also find that it doesn’t get used up by your housemates, bonus! There are lots of simple ways to make your own face masks, hair masks and even shampoo and it’s a great activity to do with your flat mates to help you relax after a stressful day.

 

  • Its Bulking Season- A simple but effective way to consume less is to buy (non-perishable) items in bulk or buy items that can be refilled. More and more shops are doing this now such as Unpackaged or if you’re looking for refills try Ecover. Here’s an extensive list of bulk stores across the UK.

 

  • Make Do and Mend- Read our top tips for giving your clothes a new lease of life. We all have a favourite pair of jeans that has one too many holes. It’s not (sew) difficult to mend your clothes, and much cheaper than buying new ones. Alternatively, if you’re bored with your wardrobe you can organise a clothes swap party. Most dry cleaners will replace a zip or do alterations but if anything is broken beyond repair make sure to take it to your nearest household recycling centre, where almost everything can be recycled.  You could also get inventive and give them a new use, e.g. rags from old t-shirts anyone?

 

Got some tips of your own? Get in touch using #DontBeTrashy and let us know how you’re getting on.

#DontBeTrashy is a collaboration between Kings’ College London and Hubbub to trial different techniques to encourage students to reduce their household waste and boost recycling rates in residences. Join the conversation on social media using #DontBeTrashy or download our handy Reuse Kit ‘How-to guide’ here for more helpful tips.

Widening Participation taste-test plant milks

This week, the King’s Widening Participation team taste-tested a range of plant-based milks during a team breakfast. Their line-up included ‘milks’ like coconut milk and hazelnut milk, and staff tried them in their cereal, coffee and tea.

And the winner for the best taste was…

Hazelnut milk !

While all plant milks got good reviews from the team, hazelnut milk was the runaway favourite, especially in coffee.

If this has made you want to try a plant milk in your coffee this weekend, the great news is that these ‘milks’ are not only tasty, but they also save carbon emissions and water. Happy tasting!

 

King’s is an accredited Living Wage Employer

We are happy to say that King’s has officially become an accredited Living Wage Employer. Our commitment to paying our staff members the London Living Wage is an integral part of Vision 2029’s Service Pillar, demonstrating our commitment to society and our staff.

While King’s has been paying the London Living Wage since 2014, we have only just been made an accredited Living Wage Employer.

What is the Living Wage?

The Living Wage is the only UK wage rate that is based on living costs. While the government introduced its own ‘national living wage’ rate for staff over 25 years of age in April 2016, this was not actually calculated against what employees and their families need to live.

The real Living Wage is paid by over 4,400 UK business who believe in ensuring that their employees receive fair pay and can afford to live on that pay. For London there is a separate rate taking into account higher living costs in the capital.

What does it mean to be an accredited Living Wage Employer?

Being an accredited Living Wage Employer means that King’s is committed to paying the real Living Wage to all our directly employed staff. In addition, King’s ensures that are on-site contractors, such as cleaners, are paid the London Living Wage.  King’s is also committed to annual pay increases linked to the cost of living.

What does it mean for staff members?

Not only does it ensure that staff members earn enough to live on, accreditation has many other benefits:

  • 75% of current accredited employers say it has increased motivation and retention rates for employees
  • 58% say that is improved relations between managers and their staff
  • 86% say that is has improved the reputation of the business

We’re happy to say that King’s is committed to ensure that it’s staff members receive a fair, liveable wage.

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.

Sustainability at the sportsgrounds

Sustainability at the King’s sportsgrounds

Over the last couple of months, the Sustainability Team has been out and about visiting our campuses with an ecologist from the London Wildlife Trust. This forms part of our work on developing a Biodiversity Strategy for King’s, which will launch in the next few months. On our visits, we looked at the current state of biodiversity at our campuses, and at the ways in which we can improve it to make spaces more attractive for students, staff, and of course wildlife. As part of this, we also visited the King’s sportsgrounds. 

King’s has three sportsgrounds across South London: New Malden near Berrylands, Honor Oak Park near Brockley, and The Griffin in Dulwich. While sportsgrounds are not traditionally associated with biodiversity due to the need for pitches to be kept in optimal condition for the many sports clubs using them, the King’s Sport team has successfully made space for wildlife. At Honor Oak Park, biodiversity has even been integrated into the newly built pavilion, which has a green roof.

Particularly New Malden, which is situated next to the Hogsmill River and the Elmbridge Meadows Local Nature Reserve, has seen many biodiversity improvements over the years. The edges of the ground bordering the nature reserve are left untouched, creating a buffer zone between the reserve and the managed sports pitches. The vegetation of various trees and shrubs provides a valuable habitat for birds and small mammals. In addition to this, nesting boxes for various species have been installed across the grounds. Hidden just under the roof of the pavilion are bat boxes, which provide important roosting and resting space for bats struggling to find space in cities. Small bird boxes are scattered across the trees around the edge of the sportsground, and a nesting box and shelf for owls have been installed inside a shed.

While biodiversity features can often be seen as nice ‘extras’, the team at New Malden have recognised that biodiversity can also be an opportunity to directly improve the grounds. For example, instead of replacing netting on a fence, the team has planted a hedge made up of a range of native species. This can provide food for pollinators, space for wildlife once grown, looks attractive to those using the grounds, and is likely to be longer-lasting than netting.

Once our Biodiversity Strategy has been published, we will share it across the university, ask what students and staff would like to see, and work with campus teams to implement it. If you want to read about our plans once we publish our strategy, make sure to follow this blog, our Twitter, or are signed up to our monthly newsletter.

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