Thoughts of a Frontrunner

The autumn term has passed, although somewhat quicker than I had anticipated, and we have survived the shortest day without much in the way of typical Christmas weather, or the world ending. Despite festive overindulgence yet again, I am sat at my desk in the second week back feeling positive about the next few months ahead. This is not because I am looking forward to hours spent in the library completing endless assignments, or because I am so confident about finishing (or even starting) my dissertation on time; but because the next few months mean an exciting and challenging time for the supporting staff and teams involved in Green Impact.

Green Impact, now in its 4th year at DMU, is a fun, simple and innovative project designed to bring about behaviour change in staff by completing easy activities in various themes. Depending on how many criteria a team completes, and once they have been audited by specially trained student volunteers, they are awarded Bronze, Silver or Gold. We have found that the small actions taken by teams add up to a big change across campus and help to embed the idea of sustainability more effectively.

Like any project, the first few months of Green Impact were slow and steady, partly due to my unfamiliarity at the start and partly due to the difficulty of motivating people to do something above and beyond the call of duty. However with those initial teething problems out of the way, and everyone feeling refreshed at the start of the New Year, I am confident that we can make real progress this term and bring about positive change across the university.

This was confirmed at the end of last term with the Student Union’s final push to complete their workbook on time, an effort which seems to have paid off having looked through the submission online. The motivation from the SU team was great and our weekly meetings helped to keep everything on track, now we just have to wait for the audit.

In supporting the other teams, my first phone call this year was from a proactive team lead who was trying to find ways he could stop staff from using portable heaters, a luxury many feel they can not do without despite mild weather this winter. After some quick calculations and a few comparisons I had the data we could use to deter these heat-loving colleagues: 5 hours of portable heating a day by the 20 or so members of staff was costing the department around £200 a week, the equivalent of a part-time staff job. Hopefully this would be enough to change the team mates’ environmentally numb behaviour, a positive start I thought.

Another reason I am feeling confident this year is because we have recently trained up, and placed, 2 keen students who have decided to volunteer up to five hours a week to support teams. These project assistants received an afternoon of training from the NUS and have now been unleashed on their teams to drum up support, coordinate workbook completion and generally help out; which seems to have been invaluable assistance for new teams to this process.

So while there are a hectic few months ahead, there is progress being made, change is happening and there should be plenty to keep me busy. Next stop: workbook submission, audits and the award ceremony, oh, and a few essays along the way.

Ollie Shotton

Ollie Shotton is a final year International Business and Globalisation student and the Green Impact Frontrunner for 2012/13.