Environmental Auditing Opportunity

Work experience opportunity – Wednesday 5th June!
·         Want to find out more about sustainability issues?
·         Want to gain the skills and knowledge associated with auditing?
·         Want to make a positive impact?
·         Want to improve your CV and gain valuable employability skills?
·         Want to do a course that is IEMA[1] approved?
·         Want to have a fun day learning practical skills?
 
 
Green Impact at Charnwood Borough Council (Loughborough)
Green Impact is a sustainability action and awards programme, designed to encourage, support and celebrate people in making environmental improvements. Interested staff volunteered as teams to participate in the programme and received a toolkit outlining achievable environmental changes.
 
Depending on the number of actions teams carry out, they can achieve either: a working towards accreditation, Bronze, Silver or Gold awards. All departments participating in Green Impact will need an audit to verify their level of achievement… and this is where you come in!
 
 
Auditing
We are looking for volunteer auditors to visit the departments at Charnwood Borough Council, in Loughborough, and conduct audits. Each volunteer auditor will be fully trained on the actions and what they need to do in order to audit through a half-day training. In pairs auditors will then complete one or more audit. An audit should take around an hour to complete depending on the size of the department.
 
 
What skills do I need?
No technical knowledge is needed! Full training will be provided. All you need is an interest in environmental issues and access to your own laptop/tablet to bring on the day, which can use Excel files.
We welcome and are committed to the inclusion and recognition of all regardless of race, age, culture, ability, ethnicity or nationality, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, marital status, religious affiliation, and socioeconomic status.
 
Travel to and from Loughborough will be paid for by Green Impact. The audits take part within the staff departments across the small council campus, so there will be some walking involved. However we can match you up with more local teams should you require.
 
 
What’s the next stage?
1. Ensure you are free all day (9.30-am – 5pm) on Wednesday 5th June.
2. Fill in this online https://forms.gle/EKLY9PWMUh4WHDnH8  By Friday 24th May to tell us more about you, and any additional requirements you may have. Spaces are limited, so apply soon!
3. You will be contacted by Wednesday 29th May if you have been successful in your application.
If you have any questions about taking part, please email Jo Kemp on jo.kemp@nus.org.uk

 

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Our time as Sustainability Frontrunners

As some of you may know, my name is Molly and I have been a Green Behaviour Change frontrunner this academic year! I have been in charge of all things social media and it has been a great experience. It has allowed me to gain experience in an office environment, earn a decent wage throughout my final year of university and has slowly introduced me into a working environment for life post-graduation. But most importantly, I have learnt so much about environmental sustainability that I shall use for the rest of my life. It is an invigorating department to work in because everything you write about or research is so relevant to your day to day life. It has made a real impact on the way I look at society and how I act!

This year I have been involved with #FairtradeFortnight, implementing the Sustainable Development Goals in teaching, writing about DMU’s herb garden and the impact gardening can have on the environment and SO much more. From writing blogs to running DMU Sustainable stalls around campus to interviewing staff, it has truly been a memorable experience and a great venture for my final year at university.

Charlotte has really enjoyed being a Green Behaviour Change Frontrunner for DMU’s Sustainability Team for 2018/19. She came into the role with an interest in sustainability that has only grown and grown. She has loved being a part of both big projects such as Responsible Futures and smaller daily jobs such as writing for blog posts like this!

This position has worked fantastically alongside Charlottes degree; she has learnt practical media and PR skills in a new sector from social media usage through to leaflet and poster creation. All with the luxury of flexible working hours!

Her role has also led her towards paths she never could have imagined, such as being invited to speak at 2 separate sustainability events and an ever growing passion for sustainability. Charlotte is elated that she will be leaving this position as a much more enriched person, with a lot more hope of her future after graduation.

It has been a pleasure working in the office alongside a great team, and we are both sad to be going! We wish the best of luck to the new intern, and hope they have just as much fun as we did.

Extinction Rebellion

Currently protesting in full force, the Extinction Rebellion are an organisation determined to persuade the UK government (and governments around the world) to declare a ‘climate emergency’. Keeping global temperatures under 1.5 degrees is essential for the safety of the planet’s future; at the end of 2018 the UN Secretary General warned that humanity and life on earth faces serious threats, and people around the world are demanding change in our government to reflect the seriousness of this devastation. It is no longer a threat, but a new reality. The Extinction Rebellion were therefore created as a reaction to the lack of action that has been taken by our Government to act on the current climate crisis. If the climate and ecological emergency is not immediately addressed by our government, then in the next decade issues such as an increase in sea level, desertification, wildfires, water shortages, crop failure, extreme weather, millions of people displaced from their homes, disease from poverty, an increased risk of wars and conflicts and more will become our harsh reality.

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Photo taken from Fox News

It is believed by the Extinction Rebellion that our system of governance is compromised by a focus on profits and economic growth. Politicians can be influenced by lobbies of powerful corporations and the media are hampered by vested interest of corporate advertisers undermining our democratic values. The rebellion want to break through to the government by demonstrating just how many people care about global warming.

Here are some staggering facts about climate change taken from the Extinction Rebellion website which are a FEW examples of why the marches are taking place;

  • Globally species are going extinct at rates up to 1,000 times the background rates typical of Earth’s past due to habitat change, overexploitation etc.
  • The latest Living Planet Index shows an average decline of 60% in population sizes of thousands of vertebrate species around the world between 1970 and 2014.
  • Rising temperatures will melt at least one-third of the Himalayas’ glaciers by the end of the century even if we limit the temperature rise to 1.5°C. Melting glaciers in both the Andes and the Himalayas threatens the water supplies of hundreds of millions people living downstream.
  • As sea level rises higher over the next 15 to 30 years, tidal flooding is expected to occur much more often, causing severe disruption to coastal communities, and even rendering some areas unusable — all within the time frame of a typical home mortgage.
  • All forms of pollution were responsible in 2015 for an estimated 9 million premature deaths—16% of all deaths worldwide—as well as for 268 million disability-adjusted life-years. Pollution is thus the world’s largest environmental cause of disease and premature death
  • 50% of the planet’s topsoil has been lost in the last 150 years, leading to increased pollution, flooding and desertification. Desertification itself currently affects more than 2.7 billion people

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Image from the Independent

Extinction Rebellion, beginning in London, has reached over 35 countries, and has used social media to create a week of ‘international civil disobedience’ this April, having commenced on the 15th April and lasting until the 29th April. This event is not a one off march; it is a continuous march, which day by day shall reach the attention of the government. They ask everyone around the world to protest for our leaders to be heard, and for them to call for a climate emergency.

There is no singular definition of what it means for the government to call a ‘climate emergency’, however it is generally defined as the government calling the climate situation an emergency, and doing everything within their power to prevent the catastrophic consequences that could come from climate change. The UN have stated we have just 12 years left to limit devastating climate change effects. This can only happen when the government understand that they must push for a more sustainable future in their policies. Many city councils have already called a climate emergency, such as Leicester council, London, Manchester and Edinburgh.

Leicester City Council have had their declaration of climate emergency approved this February, with aims to reduce carbon emissions in the city. They are reviewing and updating the council’s climate targets in light of the climate emergency, and with incentives such as Extinction Rebellion putting pressure on the government and councils this is a great, and necessary, step in the right direction from Leicester City Council. Extinction Rebellion have been protesting in Leicester this month with a ‘die-in’ at the train station; 18 protestors put on face masks and lay on their backs on the station floor with signs stating that global warming will kill. Other protestors stood around the group claiming that “global warming is propelling us towards hot-house Earth and we only have 11 years to prevent this. Join us now against government inaction.” Despite Leicester City Council calling a climate emergency, protestors must continue in order to make change in the houses of parliament.

It is the belief that climate needs to be a much bigger discussion in everyone’s day to day lives, and the rally’s and protests created by Extinction Rebellion hope to force the government into ensuring it is a priority in parliament for the sake of the future of humans, animals, and

The Good Life Goals

The world has become increasing familiar with the Sustainable Development Goals, and here at DMU we pride ourselves on including SDG education through university courses and everyday life on campus.

Whilst many people are aware of the SDG’s, achieving them on a daily basis can be an entirely different issue altogether. For some, reaching these goals feels daunting and near-impossible; this is where Good Life Goals come in!

Futerra, one of the key partners in the Good Life Goals movement, believes that people power is just as important as powerful people. The SDG’s will not be a success without the efforts and contributions of individuals such as yourself, and the Good Life Goals are tools for everyone to use to ensure that our future is sustainable.

The Good Life Goals are spin off actions that the everyday person can achieve which directly impacts each of the 17 SDG’s. Futerra adhere to a strict criteria when creating these actions;

  1.  Will this action make a tangible impact on the sustainable development goal?
  2.  Will this action be relevant/accessible/affordable to the greatest number of people?
  3.  Is the action comprehensible and likely to benefit our own lives?

From this criteria, Futerra have created examples of actions that can be made from the SDG’s:

 

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glg_slides2.jpgFuterra plan to launch all 17 Good Life Goals in September 2019; plans are still underway and ideas are all in draft. It is an exciting concept which Futerra and its partners are thrilled to finalise.

Here is an idea of the types of Good Life Goals that they will be implementing;

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By sharing clear, evidence based, personal actions for each SDG we can build confidence that we are all important, we are all needed, and we can each make the Global Goals a reality. Futerra believe that changing the world has never just be about policies or products, it always comes down to people.

They have created an advertisement video to get people inspired before the big launch of their new initiation; have a look here! https://youtu.be/Wg5lGuWeiWA Be sure to search the hashtag #GoodLifeGoals for any new information coming out, or to tweet/post about it yourself! Help spread the word of a great cause.

Keep an eye out for the release of the finalised GL Goals, and start using their framework to create some of your own to use this summer! Small actions make a big difference.

 

Earth Hour 2019!

For the past ten years, the world has participated in Earth Hour, a 60 minute time slot dedicated to supporting efforts to tackle climate change. It began in Sydney 2007, where the city encouraged locals to turn their lights out for one hour in aid of raising awareness of climate change. Now individuals, communities, businesses and organizations in more than 180 countries and territories take part in this global movement to encourage discussion about global warming and the issues that the world faces today, such as the desperate loss of nature. This Earth Hour is vital to make our voices heard on how we should move forward to help save the planet.

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#EarthHour this year takes place on the 30th March at 8:30pm local time. So what actually is Earth Hour and how do you participate?

You can celebrate Earth Day in any way you see fit. Whether you go to an event near you, have a candlelit dinner, or simply turn off all electrical appliances in the home for an hour. Doing anything in Earth Hour helps create discussion, which is what is needed to bring about change. It’s not just about doom and gloom, its an hour of mindfulness to sit back and really appreciate everything the world has to offer. We all share one big home, and sometimes we forget just how important it is when dealing with day to day life. Schools and businesses can get involved using the toolkit that Earth Hour provide on their website (find link attached at the end of this blog), as well as hotels, cities, event organisers and youth groups. No matter how big or small the gesture, doing something at 8:30pm on the 30th March will show your dedication to helping the planet become a better place!

You can also make a pledge on the Earth Hour website, tp support the cause and make a conscious effort to make a change in your daily routine. This one hour allows you to channel your thoughts on ways to help, and its most definitely needed! Form oceans to forests, to local climate issues such as the extinction of our back garden birds, there are many ways you can help make a small put powerful impact.

Anything is possible when people come together for a worthwhile cause. Let’s #Connect2Earth and show our love for our world making #EarthHour 2019 the biggest one yet!

Follow the link to find any #EarthHour events near you, toolkits on how to have your own Earth Hour, and read stories about how this magical hour has made a difference in recent years: https://www.earthhour.org/

Greta and The Global Warming Strikes

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Picture source: https://www.campaigncc.org/climate_youth_strikes

Swedish teen Greta Thunberg has inspired students across nine countries to strike and protest against leaders who do not do enough to tackle climate change. Students all over the world are boycotting school on Fridays to protest for vigorous change within government who, despite recent reports claiming that the world has less than twelve years to reduce global warming before irreversible damaged is caused, are doing too little for the planet.

Greta began camping outside Swedish parliament during August 2018 to protest against lawmakers who were failing to uphold agreements in the Paris climate accord. Since then she has gained worldwide coverage and support, creating sister marches in other counties such as the United Kingdom, Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, Uganda, Thailand, Colombia and Poland, who all wish to send their lawmakers the same message. The main strike shall be held on March 15th, where this international, youth-led mobilisation will demand change around the world.

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Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

On the 16th February over thirty schools in the UK skipped classes to protest for more to be done about climate change. These sister strikes are in aid of building up suspense for the all-important strike on March 15th, however their message is just as important. Students want to make it known to our government that climate change needs to be taken seriously, and immediate action needs to happen. Students, as well as many adults who support the strikes, want the government to call “a state of climate emergency” and educate the public about the seriousness of global warming. They also believe that sixteen year olds deserve a say in this political debate and the age to vote should be lowered, as the future lies with those who are protesting.

Greta inspired thousands with her speech from the climate change COP24 conference, where she told politicians “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear that I feel every day. And then I want you to act”. This iconic speech resonated with thousands of people, inspiring the sister marches and gave her the platform to continue to inspire change. She stated that politicians who choose to ignore this threat “w[ill] be the greatest failure[s] of human history, and they will be remembered as the greatest villains of all time”. With hope, the main strike on the 15th March will cultivate discussion around ways government can help tackle climate change, and immediate action will take place following this.

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Image: Leon Neal/Getty Images

Audit Approaching!

DMU has been focusing its efforts on becoming more sustainable; with a large emphasis on meeting the Sustainable Development Goals and ensuring the campus is eco-friendly, DMU are striving towards achieving the NUS ESD (education for sustainable development) accreditation this year.

NUS

   NUS Responsible Futures is a framework which assists universities in educating staff and students about the responsibilities of living sustainably. Its aim is to ensure students leave higher education with an understanding of how to ‘lead society to a more just and sustainable future’, and helps staff understand how to embed this into their teaching. They aim to establish a stronger relationship between the university and the Students Union, allowing the university to communicate with its staff and students more efficiently.

   The NUS, through their Responsible Futures programme, partner with universities who wish to gain accreditation for becoming a more sustainable institution. Each institution will undergo an audit, and if successful they will gain accreditation. Our Responsible Futures frontrunners Charlotte and Kaie are working hard gathering evidence to highlight how De Montfort are including ESD in our formal and informal curriculum for our upcoming audit on the 20th-21st March. The audit shall be conducted by a group of DMU student volunteers and will determine whether the university either gains the accreditation or be given a ‘working towards’ accreditation. Student auditors will be fully trained in auditing by the NUS, which is a valuable skill to have on a CV, will be supported by the NUS throughout the 2 day audit, and will get the hours they spend volunteering for us put into their HEAR report when they graduate!

   The NUS Responsible futures organise environmental campaigns such as reusable coffee cups (like our DMU Mugs), Student Switch Off within halls of residence, and ‘The Last Straw’, which tackles replacing plastic straws on campus with cardboard straws. They help ensure that universities such as DMU are doing the absolute maximum in order to help the environment, and we fully support the movement to becoming more ecological.

   Charlotte has highlighted how it’s been a pleasure to discover all the different things that De Montfort do regarding education for sustainable development, and how she has felt proud to be working and studying at DMU. Initiatives such as ‘Choose to Reuse’, DMU’s Square Mile, DMU Global and DMU Local are amongst only some of the pieces of evidence that she has rounded up to prove that our university cares about including sustainable development within formal and informal curriculum. Evidences from DMU’s 24 SDG event and their recent trip to the UN is also being audited.

   De Montfort has taken sustainability to the heart of everything it does; with the NUS SDG training implemented for staff to include sustainable teaching in the heart of their course, students are able to learn about how to live a sustainable lifestyle and understand that sustainable development is key in any way of life.

DMU is currently recruiting 6-10 students to partake in the audit for Responsible Futures. The auditor’s role involves evidence reviews, interviews and assessment and reflection. The NUS will help prep and support students throughout the audit. If you are interested in taking part in the audit and helping the university gain accreditation, then please e-mail sustainability@dmu.ac.uk for more background details.