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.

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SDG Teach-In Success!

#SDGTeachIn 2019 at DMU

The National Union of Students held its annual #SDGTeachIn week from the 18th 22nd February 2019, which encouraged academic staff to include the UN’s SDGs in their teaching, learning and assessment throughout the week and beyond. Staff who planned to do this were asked to pledge their activity on the NUS Sustainability website.

DMU staff from across all faculties of the university took part, including:

  • Nicola Thomas, BAL
  • Irene Antonopoulos, BAL
  • David Rae, BAL
  • Pamela Hardaker, CEM
  • Kate Wilkinson Cross, BAL
  • Simi Akintoye, BAL
  • Natasha Katuta Mwila, BAL
  • Rick Greenough, CEM
  • Andrew Reeves, CEM
  • Helen Griffiths- Haynes, HLS
  • Ros Lishman, BAL
  • Jie Liu, ADH
  • Darren Sparkes, BAL
  • Rupert Gammon, CEM
  • Muyiwa Oyinlola, CEM
  • Mark Charlton, HLS
  • Sally Gaukrodger-Cowan, ADH
  • Helen Burbidge, ADH
  • Neil Young, BAL
  • Claire Lerpiniere, ADH
  • Angela Davies, ADH

The Sustainability Team went along to some of the lectures, seminars and classes that took place during the #SDGTeachIn and they were all incredibly interesting and engaging. The students who attended them seemed to gain a lot of knowledge and were opened up to new ways of thinking about sustainability.

Green Behaviour Change Frontrunner, Charlotte, went along to Nicola Thomas’ lecture on the Tuesday morning for the Brand Management module in BAL. This lecture was all about Sustainable Branding in the Fashion industry which focussed on Sustainable Development Goal 12: Responsible Consumption. The lecture looked at fashion’s impact on climate change, including material choices such as fur and leather and the wasteful habits of the fashion industry: throwing away and incinerating new and usable items. It was an interesting and eye opening lecture which demonstrated how important sustainability is in all walks of life, and how it can be applied to different subject areas.

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Pictured: Nicola Thomas teaching her #SDGTeachIn Lecture on Sustainable Branding in the Fashion Industry.

Molly, our other Green Behaviour Change Frontrunner sat in on Sally Gaukrodger-Cowan’s seminar about how students can embed sustainable development within their textile projects. Sally played videos talking about the need for Sustainable Development Goals, and linked each goal to fashion brands and possible ideas for students to work with throughout their second year assignment for their own brand. She loved prepping for SDG Teach-In and said that she learnt a lot, proving that this all important week is not just for students! She also showed the class an app called ‘Good on You’, which allows you to search any clothing brand and discover how ethical and sustainable they are with the production of their clothing – check it out if you want to live more sustainably!

Capture

Pictured: A slide from Sally’s workshop quoting how students will incorporate SDG’s into their projects.

The #SDGTeachIn was really successful this year, DMU ended up 4th overall in NUS’ results table with 25 academics pledged and 14.178% of our students reached, which was the 2nd highest % of students reached in the UK. This was a huge increase on last year’s results where we had 12 academics pledged and reached 388 students.

table

These figures can only continue to go up and we can’t wait to see how members of staff and students get involved next year and begin to include it regularly in their teaching, learning, assessment and everyday life.

Thank you so much to everyone who got involved!

NUS Responsible Futures Accreditation

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 Responsible Futures partner with universities who wish to gain accreditation for becoming a 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 held by a group of student volunteers which will determine whether the university either gain 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.

Universities are required to recruit 6-10 students to partake in the audit. The auditor’s role involves evidence reviews, interviews and assessment and reflection. The NUS will help prep and support student throughout the audit. If you are interested in taking part in the audit and helping the university gain accreditation or want to learn more, then please e-mail sustainability@dmu.ac.uk.

SDG Teach-In 18th–22nd February 2019

Next week is the Sustainable Development Goal Teach-In! The week is in aid of catalysing the United Nations Global Goals being ‘at the heart of further and higher education’ in order to encourage sustainable living for the future years to come.

NUS simply encourage academics to pledge themselves to include the SDG goals in their teaching, learning, and assessment on their course/s during the week of the 18th-22nd. The SDG’s are 17 goals set by the United Nations which aim to end poverty, protect the planet and achieve prosperity for all by 2030.

E_2018_SDG_Poster_without_UN_emblem_Letter US.png

Today’s current climate situation is devastating, but still reversible. This is something which needs our attention in every way possible, starting with educating young students on how they can live more sustainably. NUS have discovered through their six year research how 60% of students want to learn more about sustainability, 85% of students consistently agree or strongly agree that “sustainable development is something which universities and colleges should actively incorporate and promote”, 70% of students consistently agree or strongly agree that “sustainable development is something which university and college courses should actively incorporate and promote” and 60% of students consistently agree or strongly agree that “sustainable development is something which I would like to learn more about”.

NUS hope that the Teach-In not only raises awareness of the importance of sustainable development, but catalyses curriculum reform and test new ideas with sustainable education in mind. Achieving sustainability is a social responsibility, therefore it is vital that students are educated in order to tackle 21st century issues. It is vital that future generations are prepared to deal with the issues such as global warming, poverty and gender inequality in a way never before; therefore the NUS SDG Teach-In is a small way in which we can educate students on how to be more aware and prepared.

The SDG Teach-In urges all academics to pledge themselves to incorporate the SDG goals into their courses for the week. Start the conversation about sustainable living with students, plant the seed for students to grow their own consciousness about creating a just and fair future.

If you have any more questions please contact either DMU at sustainability@dmu.ac.uk, or the NUS at sustainability@nus.org.uk.

FOLLOW THIS LINK TO PLEDGE https://sustainability.nus.org.uk/sdgteachin/pledge

NUS RESOURCES HERE: https://sustainability.nus.org.uk/sdgteachin/resources

The 365 Day Challenge

The 365 day challenge is the ultimate test for those who wish to cut down their plastic consumption. The world as we know it is in a state of crisis and needs people, now more than ever, to make a conscious effort to think twice about single use plastic and where their plastic waste is going. For 365 days, you are encouraged to reduce your plastic waste in any way possible. The challenge is a nice way to test the waters, test your limits, and learn more about just how much plastic we use in our day to day lives. You don’t have to do it for a year; even a week or a month of pure dedication could help not only the environment, but help reduce your carbon footprint and become more sustainable in the future.

I interviewed Gemma Andrews, Executive Personal Assistant to the Vice-Chancellor, about her experience with the 365 day challenge. She created a blog about her trials and tribulations to inspire friends and family to take on the challenge, and to help process her thoughts on plastic waste. I asked her a few questions regarding the challenge to learn more;

  • How have you enjoyed the 365-day challenge?

 

When I first started the challenge, it was a rollercoaster. I have always had awareness of plastic waste and the environment, so starting the challenge was important to me. There were times throughout the challenge where I felt really proud of what I was doing, and other times when I felt that there was no way I was making a difference; at these times I thought that there was no way we could beat the race against time. The thing is, you can’t shut your eyes once they’re open. That is why I wrote the blog; to help open closed eyes. At first I got mixed feedback; never bad feedback, but I was told there was no point. As I went on, the feedback became positive as people realised that you can make a difference. It doesn’t matter where you start or how big you start, as long as you actually start. And I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.

  • Which aspect did you enjoy the most?

 

I think I have enjoyed the eye opening factor of the whole challenge. I have learnt the scale of which we have all been hoodwinked into consumerism. We all use plastic as if in a dream without even thinking about it twice. It was nice to wake up to reality and really start being productive.

  • What did you find the most difficult?

 

I found it hard to go shopping for loose vegetables! If you want to buy loose vegetables then you need some additional funding behind you. For example, packaged leeks of 3, pre-cut and ready to eat are approximately 65p, whereas loose leeks which are damaged stand at around 80p per leek. Peppers are the same. You’re obviously drawn to the cheaper option. However, this is something that supermarkets need to address, too, as it would be nice to have the support of those you’re purchasing from. The most customers can do is protest by not buying from said store anymore or write to them asking for change. I now go to Leicester food market to buy loose veg, and occasionally drive to Loughborough food market at weekends. If people want fair prices with no plastic, they need to put pressure on those above us.

  • Have you been shocked by the amount of plastic used every day? Did you notice it before?

 

I’m still shocked! As much we try to cut down, it’s amazing how much we still use without even realising. I have even tried to stop eating crisps and cereal bars due to the plastic packaging, but it’s not always easy finding plastic free alternatives. Not a lot of people think about that kind of packaging. Walkers have created a recycling scheme where you wash the packet and send it back, but then recycling becomes more of a time issue than anything else. Large families or those who have a demanding job may not have the time to wash a crisp packet. This is where companies should offer more help, or rewards to those who take the time to make a conscious effort.

  • From doing the challenge, what is the easiest thing you think people could do every day to reduce their plastic waste?

 

I think there are three things which people could do with ease; bring re-usable bags to the supermarket, invest in a re-usable mug, and a reusable water bottle. Most people are starting to integrate this into their daily lives which is a good step in the right direction. Bringing your own lunch to the office/university would also be another thing I’d recommend; it’s healthier and uses much less plastic than a meal deal would.

  • How has the 365-day impacted the way you live? Will you continue to live as plastic free as possible?

 

In 2010 my New Year’s Resolution was to reuse bags in supermarket and I stuck to it; I’ve always been environmentally aware and have understood we had to make a change. Doing this challenge has really clarified and solidified that I can do it permanently and consistently. The media in recent years has highlighted the issue more and more which has been encouraging, but doing the challenge has given me a purpose. The blog was my consistency factor, and the challenge was my motivation to see it through.

  • What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start the 365-day challenge?

 

Don’t put pressure on yourself to change immediately. Do an audit of your life and really consider what you need to do. Think about things you throw away, things you use regularly, things you don’t necessarily need, and start to build an idea of what you need to reduce. If you dive right in, your efforts won’t be sustainable and you’ll cave and fall back into old habits. Build up your knowledge, and make tactful efforts you can be proud of. Eventually, it will become a part of your everyday life, and you won’t want to revert back! It is impossible to live entirely without plastic as some are useful and necessary, but the things you can change you need to, for the good of the environment.

Have a read of Gemma’s blog (https://alifewithlessplast.wixsite.com/alifewithlessplastic/home/) to learn more and try taking the challenge on yourself this year. You can also follow Gemma’s inspiring Instagram page at @a_life_with_less_plastic. If you need support, try signing up to the Marine Conservation Plastic Challenge; it is the same challenge as the 365 day challenge but only for a month. They have a great community forum where people share tips on how to reduce plastic waste and keep you motivated! You can sign up for free and get a starter pack so give it a go; https://www.mcsuk.org/plastic-challenge/

Big Garden Birdwatch 26th-28th Jan

The decline of species can happen right outside our back doors; it occurs closer to home than many may realise, particularly with birds. The UK has lost more than half of its house sparrows and three quarters of starlings (just to name a few species that have suffered under the radar). The RSPB created the Big Garden Birdwatch to involve the local community in logging the different species of birds they see in their garden for data analysis. For 40 years this data has kept professionals in the loop about how our national birds are doing. Almost half a million people take part; it’s a fun way to spend quality time with family and friends all whilst learning about the local wildlife. It takes place over three days, giving you plenty of time to spot as many birds as you can!

bw

We want to encourage you to sing up (for free) via the RSPB website and help spot as many birds as possible! You can also list any other animas spotted, such as rabbits, badgers, and hedgehogs for additional data. Since the RSPB birdwatching scheme began, Blue Tit numbers increased by 20% and the woodpigeon population increased by an astonishing 800%. It really does make a difference; raising awareness helps create a consciousness surrounding UK bird population decline and reservation. When you sign up you can either opt for a free postal pack including all the necessary documents and guidelines, or take part online and receive additional articles, downloads and celebrity interviews! If you don’t have a back garden, have no fear! You can head over to Castle Gardens or any other woodland area, small or large. Sign up using the link below!

https://www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/activities/birdwatch/

 

 

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.

Recycle

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

fairtrade-products

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/.