Tag: Sustainability (page 1 of 4)

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

Win Prizes with Warp It

So far King’s has saved over £140,978 since we launched Warp It in 2016 and we’re giving you prizes to help to make that number even bigger!

How can you win?

We’re giving you prizes to share as many items as possible on Warp It. The user who uploads the most items by the 12 July 2018 will win a goodie bag of vegan treats!

What exactly is Warp It?

Warp It is a Freecycle style online platform that allows staff members from inside King’s to share unwanted furniture, office and lab equipment they no longer need. Every time an item is added to Warp It it is then available for staff members across King’s to claim, meaning that unwanted, good quality items are no longer being thrown away.

Did you know…?

Lab equipment can be put on to Warp It as well! Everything from electronic equipment to glassware can be shared and claimed on the platform.

Why is it important?

Warp It not only helps us to reduce the amount of waste that we produce, but it also saves users a large amount of time and money that they would otherwise have spent on purchasing new items. It helps to promote the ethos of reuse, reduce, recycle at King’s and encourages staff members to think about what they purchase, before they purchase it.

So far at King’s we have:

  • Saved over £140,978
  • Saved over 58,259kg of CO2, which would normally arise from waste disposal and buying new items
  • Avoided over 20,292kg of waste
  • Kept the equivalent of 25 cars off the road and saved 79 trees

Sign up to Warp It and start winning prizes today!

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.

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.

Become a Committee Member for Fetch Ur Veg

Are you interested in helping to promote sustainable food at King’s, as well as gaining experience at running a unique enterprise?

Fetch Ur Veg is a student-led food co-op, providing fresh, organic vegetable bags to students and they are currently looking for new committee members to take over from next year. As a committee member you will have the opportunity to gain practical experience on how small enterprises are run, as well as encouraging healthy, sustainable lifestyles to students on campus.

If you’re interested in any of the following roles please apply online.

Sustainability Week Careers Event

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

The Discover Careers in Sustainability event on Monday night kicked off the series of evening events part of King’s Sustainability Week. Full of useful information about future careers, the panel was formed of a range of professionals already working in the sector in various capacities. Sitting on the panel:

• Kat Thorne – Head of Sustainability for King’s College London
• Veda Karandikar – Senior Associate in the Sustainability and Climate Change consulting department at PwC
• David Lourie – Director of Good Business
• Iyesogie Igiehon – Associate in the Global Environmental and Regulatory Law Group at Allen & Overy

For those who could not attend the event, here is a summary of some of the best advice.

Was your first job you dream job?
The overwhelming response was no. Instead, the advice was to focus on the role and the skills it can help you to develop. Considering why the job does not suit you can help shape where you want to be next.

Each panel member has a very different background and route to sustainability, however, they were united by the fact that none of them actually intend to work in the sector. Instead, each person followed a career route led by their interests and networking!

How can you find jobs in smaller, harder to find companies? 
Recruitment consultants a good place to start; there are lots of niche recruitment firms, but Acre was mentioned specifically. Whilst they may not have specific graduate roles, a role may come up once in a while and by talking to recruiters you are putting your name out there. Escape the City was also brought up as a place to look for less traditional roles. Twitter, LinkedIn and any social media accounts are often sources of niche roles that may not be advertised elsewhere. When reading reports, check out who wrote the report and if the company is somewhere you would be interested in working. Finally, it is a cliché but networking counts! Get out there and talk to people, be interested in other people’s work and attend lots of events, London is the perfect place to do so.

How can you make your application stand out?
The panellists were very clear you should do your research to really understand what the company is about. You must demonstrate you know who you are applying to. Kat suggested saving your time applying to 100 companies in favour of spending time perfecting five or even one application that you really want. In this time it is important to show the skills you will be using in the role such as research and analysis. Demonstrate you know what the role involves, and how your skills fit the tasks involved.

If you haven’t got a formal education in the role you are applying to, show your interest through practical action or evidence such as volunteering or blogging.

What is the future of the sustainability industry?
There are no signs the sustainability sector growth is slowing. In fact, all signs point to it growing, as larger firms dedicate more resources and time to grow their sustainability departments leading. This will lead to a skills demand in the market. But the sector is changing. Terms like ‘sustainability’ and ‘CSR’ are being used less and less as sustainability becomes a good business practice rather than a side branch of this business.

As sustainability becomes integrated into businesses, jobs will be less advertised as pure sustainability roles and more about core business functions with an edge (or interest) in CSR and sustainability. This means it will be harder to find specific roles so you should focus on your interests and skills. David from Good Business mentioned that when hiring, his firm did not necessarily look for a background in sustainability but rather the skills (business or otherwise) that the candidate will bring to the firm. Secondary to this is a demonstrable interest in the company’s values. Think commercially; trends set to grow include Big Data, AI, and Block chain so start brushing up!

Nevertheless, this is definitely a growing sector, becoming important in every sector and job.

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!
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