2019; The Year of Sustainability

Happy New Year! It’s that time again; a new year, a new year’s resolution. However, this upcoming year is in desperate need of our environmental focus. A global effort needs to be made to reduce climate change and prevent irreversible damage. So, what better way to kick start your year than with a new year’s resolution that will help not only yourself, but the environment?

If you’re still struggling for resolution ideas, here are six we’ve come up with!

Grow your own vegetables

If you’re looking for a new hobby, or something active to see through the year, then why not start growing your own vegetables? Growing your own veg is an incentive to eat organic foods, which you know haven’t been sprayed with damaging pesticides or treated carelessly. You aren’t paying for food miles, and it gives you quality time outdoors, keeping you active. Most importantly, home grown veg tastes ten times nicer! Have a read about DMU’s herb garden to better understand some of the benefits from growing your own veg; https://sustainabledmu.wordpress.com/2018/11/09/139-steps-to-sustainability/.

Cook from scratch

It may be a good idea to revolutionise the way you eat with your cooking. This may sound easy, but it is definitely a challenge worth taking on. Buying processed food not only uses single-use plastic, but it most likely doesn’t give you the nutrients you need. Cooking from scratch, and knowing what goes into your food, is a routine which your body and mind will thank you for. Purchasing locally sourced produce (if you don’t fancy growing your own) limits food miles and pumps money into local businesses; big co-operations won’t miss you, but local companies appreciate your custom. You are also limiting plastic waste as plastic microwave meals often go unrecycled. Finally, cooking can be fun! It can be an activity to do with the family, or it can allow you to experiment and test yourself. You may find yourself unwinding and enjoying the process of cooking, and you can discover a whole new palette when you stray from what you know.

Eat quality meat and eat less of it

Meat such as chicken and beef have become prevalent in the majority of peoples meals, and is definitely a go-to for most of us. However, eating high quantities of processed meat can cause serious health risks such as heart disease, obesity and cancer. Cutting out some meat during your weekly diet and replacing it with plant alternatives can not only prevent these health risks, but they can help the environment too. The meat industry is responsible for carbon emissions more so than all transport in the world put together. Therefore, cutting meat from your diet may be a great option for your resolution. The RSPCA approve certain farmed animals to assure you that your meat is coming from a farm which cares for its animal’s welfare. If you don’t want to cut out meat entirely, try looking out for the ‘RSPCA Assured’ label on products. Click the link for more information https://www.berspcaassured.org.uk/benefits-to-your-business/the-rspca-brand/.

Take public transport/cycle/walk

It may seem cliché, but opting to use public transport or to cycle/walk in the New Year could make all the difference. Check local bus timetables, invest in a second hand bike or simply delete the Uber app and walk to your destination as a pledge to relieve the world of its carbon threat. It doesn’t only reduce carbon emissions, but it is healthy for the body and mind. Getting that extra bit of exercise in before and after work/university/school can improve your focus, energy and attitude for the day. Also, it cuts down on fuel spending saving you money! If you’re a student or staff member and want to learn more about what services DMU supplies for greener transport, follow this link: https://www.dmu.ac.uk/transport.


Pledging to recycle more is an easy yet effective resolution. It’s a concept which everyone is familiar with, but often forget to do! Plastic waste littering our oceans and streets is turning into a serious crisis that will become our permanent reality if we don’t make a change now. To put the plastic crisis into context, ‘The Garbage Patch’ is an island of rubbish situated in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and California. It is referred to as a trash vortex, thought to be the size of Texas; this is global waste which has washed out into the oceans disrupting marine wildlife. It is an issue that is only going to grow, and we will see the catastrophic consequences in our lifetime unless we make an effort to stop it. If you want to make an extra effort to prevent plastic waste, don’t purchase single-use plastics such as water bottles, and purchase a thermal mug or a reusable bottle.

Fairtrade only


Making a conscious effort to purchase Fairtrade products can help people across the globe. Whilst conventional trade often leaves hard workers in LEDC’s with less than they deserve, Fairtrade gives you and workers the certification that all employees have a decent living wage, life support, and the freedom to make their own choices. With this, Fairtrade always keep the environment in mind. They ensure that they don’t destruct wildlife, reduce their greenhouse consumption and avoid toxic pesticides. By helping to support Fairtrade, you are paying for quality products and food which are grown and distributed sustainably. It’s a win win! Look out for the Fairtrade mark on products from Jan 1st onwards and enjoy knowing you’re not only buying for yourself, but other people who need it. Follow this link to learn more about what Fairtrade do and how you can get involved; https://www.fairtrade.org.uk/.


139 Steps to Sustainability


Fresh, locally sourced ingredients often go unnoticed in daily meals. Here at De Montfort University, we take great pride in our Trinity House herb garden, where vegetables and herbs are grown throughout the year and cooked up on campus for students and staff; our salad bar is full of vegetables picked as early as that morning, the tomato sauce spread on pizza is handmade from freshly picked tomatoes, and slow cooked meat is garnished with herbs grown just a stones-throw away.



Daniel Kirk, Trinity House gardens’ incredible caretaker and gardener, discussed the possibility of growing herbs and vegetables for the kitchens with former head Chef James Hart and executive Chef Aaron Latham in 2015, who were thrilled with the possibility of having access to locally grown ingredients. Daniel sourced the seeds from an organic heritage to compliment the heritage of the area, and began to give the garden the love and care it needed to reach its full potential.



Now, between May to September, Daniel harvests vegetables approximately 3 times a week!


The area is truly impressive; Dan ensures that everything is kept in great condition all year round. With this, the area has been praised by many for allowing full access to students who are looking for a place to unwind and relax. It is also used for Mindfulness sessions, a programme to help improve student’s wellbeing.

Now-head Chef Aaron Latham took the time to discuss the impact the herb garden has had on the campus cafeteria.

He explains that he uses the herbs and vegetables in every day meals on campus, and even creates his own sauces such as salad dressing, pesto, and purees. Near the end of the academic year, many herbs and vegetables are in season which makes “perfect timing” for big events such as graduation and award evenings. Many vegetables are also put to use late September for freshers week, such as the butternut squash which produced over 800 bowls of soup for newcomers this academic year.

Graduation Vegan Korean Pancake (approx. 60% made with Trinity House herb garden ingredients)



But how does the herb garden help reduce the universities carbon footprint? Aaron emphasised how incredibly easy it is to go and pick the ingredients he needs fresh from the soil, calling it a luxury for him and his team. “Knowing that the ingredients haven’t be sprayed with pesticides, tightly packaged in bulk, shipped from who knows where, covered in excessive plastic, and most likely damaged along the way makes the kitchens extremely pleased to collect their vegetables and herbs by foot”. The herb garden prevents unnecessary use of plastic and fuel to transport goods; Aaron has counted that it takes just 139 steps to get his supplies from the garden! 



Aaron also expressed how it is not only cost-effective, but it reduces waste significantly. Aaron can walk and pick exactly the right amount of herbs or vegetables that he needs instead of buying in bulk, which saves money and the liklhood of vegetables going off and being thrown away.  Big events within the university need specific requirements, and both Aaron and Daniel work together throughout the year to produce the right amount of herbs and vegetables at the right time. Aaron can also be as specific as to pick the exact size herb leaf he requires, for example, and expressed his love for having full control over what he uses and when.

  The Trinity House herb garden is DMUs not-so-secret key to producing fresher, more organic dishes whilst considering the impact it has on the environment. It is truly a remarkable asset to the university.


Trinity House Herb Garden plants:

Swiss Chard (rainbow mix red yellow and green), Pink Passion Chard (bright pink, heritage), Chiogga Beetroot (red and white circles), Yellow and Red Beetroot, Outdoor Girl Tomato , Scarlet Knight Tomato (heritage seed), Aida Gold Dwarf Yellow Bean (Heritage Seed), Cherokee Climbing French Bean (heritage seed), Radish (unusual colours), Cucamelon (vine with grape like cucumber), Summer Crookneck Bent Summer Squash , Red and Yellow Shallots, Broad Beans, Aquadulce Mixed leaves, Mizuna, Mibuna, Sorrel, Mixed Spicy Leaves, Edible Flowers, Bread Seed Poppies, Chilli Variety Serrano, Habanero, Anaheim and Inferno, Aubergine Black Beauty, Tagetes Minuta, Apple Marigold , Pink Fir Apple (heritage potato), Basil, Parsley, Chives, Rosemary, Garden Mint, Apple Mint, Sage, Tarragon, Dill, Fennel, Chamomile, and Sweet Cicely.

Meet the Team!

Our new intake of Frontrunners have arrived in the sustainability team! Passionate, eager and focused, our interns are ready to promote sustainability throughout campus, and make a real difference to how students and staff alike understand and tackle environmental issues.

About the programme;

The Frontrunners scheme offers you the opportunity to apply for paid internships at the university working on real tasks, with current DMU employees. Internships in the past have varied from administration roles and social media work to supporting the Vice-Chancellor’s Office and project work within faculties and DMU’s professional services departments, as well as some lab-based opportunities.

The Sustainability team’s frontrunners are working on a range of different sustainability projects at DMU including communicating what the uni is doing on these important issues. Projects include Student Switch Off, which an energy saving competition between halls of residence, encourages more sustainable travel habits, measuring and reporting DMU’s carbon footprint and delivering the Responsible Futures programme. This is an NUS programme focused on putting sustainability at the heart of higher education formal and informal learning. Its overall aim is to help students gain the knowledge, skills and experiences needed to thrive as global citizens.

Scroll down to get to know each new frontrunner and their role within the DMU sustainability team!

Green Behaviour Change Frontrunner (Social Media and Communications) – Molly Manley


Molly is a third year student studying Media and Communications at DMU. Her role in the Responsible Futures programme is to utilise social media to promote events around the university linked to sustainability, and keep students and staff updated with how they can get involved with helping environmental issues. Alongside this, she will be writing relevant blogs (such as this one!) shedding light on important and fun topics.

Molly has had previous experience with social media and blogging in an internship with a Media Web Design company; here she learnt how to optimise social media in order to promote content efficiently. With this, Molly has a general passion for helping the environment and becoming a more active member of the community through this. She has volunteered abroad in LEDC’s such as Thailand, teaching English to underprivileged school, and has taken part in DMUGlobal trips and volunteered there too. Molly holds personal importance over the UN Development Goals, and wishes to enter a media orientated career within a charity to ensure that these UN Goals are met.

Molly wants to share her passion to make a difference in society, and becoming a frontrunner has given her an opportunity in doing just this.

Responsible Futures Frontrunner – Kaie Small-Warner


Kaie is a doctoral researcher on strategic sustainable development in the built environment at DMU’s Leicester School of Architecture. Kaie completed her BSc. at Florida Institute of Technology and then started her career as an engineer in the oil & gas industry. It is working within this industry that increased her awareness of global climate change challenges and advanced her interest in alternative solutions. She moved on to complete a MSc. in Sustainable Energy and Entrepreneurship at University of Nottingham. Her thesis reviewed main barriers to renewable energy diffusion and investigated business models that could help accelerate deployment. She then worked with a solar energy start up on the design, installation and monitoring of residential and commercial solar PV systems. One of the highlights from this experience was helping clients understand their electricity consumption and the impact of generating their own electricity. She is now continuing research on how science and business models can help increase awareness and accelerate sustainable development. Her passion is to work with organizations committed to the fight against poverty, inequality and climate change. Within this Frontrunner role, she hopes to contribute to Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) and Responsible Futures by facilitating forums, workshops and awareness campaigns across the university.

Green Behaviour Change Frontrunner – Charlotte Lingham

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Charlotte is a 20 year old Media and Communication student at DMU from a small town near Loughborough. She spends a lot of time playing with makeup and learning new skills, which she often puts on her own blog. Charlotte has always been actively involved with political movements and campaigns, from being involved with Amnesty International at the age of 11, to going on DSU’s consent march last year. Therefore this frontrunner position shall enable her to be involved in more important campaigns during her time at university. She has always been conscious of environmental and sustainability problems and how we all can all help as individuals in the fight to save the planet. Until about a year ago, her main involvement in sustainable behaviour was the usual turning off the lights, turning down the heating, recycling type, and then she discovered reusable sanitary products, which has made her more conscious about waste in general and how she can do my bit to reduce it.

Her specific role as a Green Behaviour Change Frontrunner involves staff and student engagement. This means working at events and online to get students involved in thinking and living more sustainably. Charlotte will be working on a number of projects and campaigns throughout the year, including the NUS Student Switch Off and NUS Green Impact. The goal is to get more students engaging in DMUs events and activities, so that everyone has the knowledge and skills to help to create a more sustainable planet.

You can find out about the work of the sustainability Frontrunners through our social media channels on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and through this blog.

The Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Forum at DMU

There are many ways that universities can reduce their environmental impact and improve their performance in relation to sustainable development. Due their size, their purchasing power and number of employees there are so many opportunities to adopt more sustainable behaviours.

However, arguably the biggest impact that institutions can have is through their education programmes and engagement with their students and the impact of this work should not be underestimated. Most students will graduate from their university with, hopefully, a 30 to 40 years career ahead of them and this provides a unique opportunity for institutions to contribute to wards a sustainable world. The time span in questions coupled with the number of students who graduate each year provides a double whammy for a more sustainable economy and society.

Providing students with the skills and knowledge to contribute to sustainable development is known as Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). Our approach to ESD is through a number of mechanisms one of which is our ESD Forum. Led by Dr Andrew Reeves the Forum meets on a regular basis to share knowledge, information and ideas around embedding ESD into the taught curriculum.


The Forum has organised and run a number of workshops on ESD to engage with academic colleagues on how ESD can be brought into formal and informal learning and the opportunities that exist to do this. This might include lectures, workshops, student trips and international visits.

The Forum also led on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Teach In. The aim of the SDG Teach was to raise awareness of why the Sustainable Development Goals should be at the heart of further and higher education, and help catalyse the change needed to make this happen. Co-ordinated by the NUS the campaign encouraged universities and academic staff to pledge to include information about the SDGs in their teaching during the Teach In week. Over 30 institutions took part with 257 academic staff pledging which engaged with over 16,000 students on the issues of ESD and the SDGs.

The ESD Forum is also leading on the Responsible Futures programme, which is run nationally by the NUS. Now into its second year at DMU, the Responsible Futures programme, is a whole-institution  approach to embedding social responsibility and sustainability across the formal and informal curriculum. It is a supported change programme and accreditation mark that works to put sustainability at the heart of education.

Responsible Future is a framework to assist in creating an enabling environment for staff and students to work together to embed social responsibility and sustainability into teaching and learning. It seeks to legitimise and mainstream education for sustainable development, ultimately helping to ensure students leave education with the knowledge, skills and attributes needed to lead society to a more just and sustainable future.

The ESd Forum at DMU is going from strength to strength and there are some ambitious plans for the future. If you’d like to be part of what the Forum is doing or if you’d like to find out some information just drop us a line at sustainability@dmu.ac.uk

My experience as a Green Behaviour Change Frontrunner

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If you don’t already know, applications to become the next Green Behaviour Change Frontrunner (Campaigns and Social Media) are now open! I would encourage anyone with an interest in sustainability or environmental related issues to apply. The internship has given me the opportunity to put my basic knowledge of topics such as Fairtrade, green behaviour and sustainability in education into practice. I now know so much more about DMU’s sustainability work than I did before I started my Frontrunner position almost six months ago. Learning about the top-class work they’ve achieved in the People and Planet League alongside the future plans to address Sustainable Development Goal #14, Life Below Water makes me even more proud to be a student here.

As a Green Behaviour Change Frontrunner, you’ll get the chance to learn more about the initiatives the university is taking towards sustaianablility and put forward your own views from a student perspective. It’s also a great opportunity to develop your social media and marketing skills as you’ll be spending plenty of time promoting events across digital platforms and talking to students during outreach events.

You’ll also get the opportunity to be involved in NUS’s annual sustainability summit. This was a real highlight for me as I got the chance to meet likeminded students with an interest in sustainability and was also an eye opener into a range of sustainability topics I hadn’t thought about before. If you enjoy writing editorial content or would like to give it a go, the role also gives you the chance to develop these skills by writing engaging web content like this!

The team are also incredibly friendly and if you ever need any help or support along your journey as a Frontrunner, they’ll be there to help and answer any questions you may have. You’ll also find a tempting supply of Fairtrade chocolate at most events – yet another great reason to apply!

Applications for the position can be made through DMU’s MyGateway. Closing date for applications is Thursday 26th April.

DMU students and staff support NUS Sustainable Development Goals Teach-In Week

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As part of the NUS Responsible Futures campaign, DMU pledged to take part in the Teach-In week from 19th – 23rd February 2018. The Teach-In week was held to emphasise the importance of and to ‘raise awareness of why the Sustainable Development Goals should be at the heart of further and higher education, and help catalyse the change to make this happen’.

NUS believe that the Teach-In is important as a means of raising awareness of the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals alongside preparing students with the knowledge, skills and attributes to tackle 21st Century challenges. NUS research has also shown that 60% of students, regardless of their discipline, want to learn more about sustainability, which the Teach-In event aims at fulfilling.

DMU have already been awarded a First Class award by the People and Planet University League for being ranked 13th out of 151 institutions for being one of the greenest Universities across the country. Despite already practicing sustainability across the campus, and an annual increase in the number of module descriptions relevant to sustainability increasing to 88, DMU pledged to participate in the NUS Teach-In week. Throughout the week, across the university, several lecturers made the NUS pledge to integrate a particular Sustainable Development Goal into one of their seminars, workshops, case studies, debates and discussions.

9 lecturers across several faculties at the university pledged to take part in the Teach-In week, ranging across faculties from Fashion, Communications and Media Production to Strategic Management and Marketing. Lecturers such as Andrew Reeves, a teacher in the faculty of Engineering and Sustainable Development focused a seminar session with a group of students looking at the Sustainable Development Goal #14 ‘Life Below Water’ in which the impact of plastic waste on sea life was focused on. Other sessions throughout the week included those taught by Emma Wood, a member of the Fashion and Textiles faculty who focused a seminar on Sustainable Cities and Communities.

The Teach-In week at enabled both DMU students and staff to extend existing knowledge of the Sustainable Development Goals provided by the United Nations, yet to also gain an insight into how detrimental human waste and action can be on attaining these goals. The integration of the goals into different courses enables students and staff to realise the relevance of the SDGs across varied disciplines, and with the realisation of their prevalence, hopefully influence both staff and student to make positive changes about their lives towards attaining the goals.


DMU pledges to reduce use of plastics on campus in support of UN’s Sustainable Development Goals


As a nation we throw away 2.5 billion disposable plastic coffee cups a year. Blue Planet II’s recent eye opening documentary showed us the devastating impact plastic and other non-degradable materials has on our wildlife and pleaded for a call to action from everyone across the world.

This call has been heard by us at DMU and plans are being developed to reduce our use of plastics on campus! In support of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, DMU announced its initiative to remove all non-recyclable plastic cups from campus and issue 26,000 free reusable cups to students and staff.

The move is part of DMU’s wider goals to ban non-recyclable plastics from campus by September 2018 and was announced at the UN by Vice Chancellor, Dominic Shellard during last week’s DMU Global trip to New York.

To help meet the inspirational target, DMU has also committed to:

  • Replacing all plastic cutlery with compostable items
  • Replacing all plastic milk cartoons from all outlets with recyclable alternatives
  • Expanding the number of free drinking water fountains on campus – both indoor and outdoor

By using a reusable cup, you’ll not only benefit from a 20p saving when purchasing any hot drink on campus – you’ll be leading the change towards a more sustainable future.