10 sustainability actions to start taking right now
Too busy to get involved in UCL's sustainability programmes? Never fear, here are our top 10 ways you can start making a positive impact right now. And they might even help you save money, time and boost your employability too.
1. Get connected. Making change happen can be a challenge, so don’t go it alone. There are a huge number of students and staff working to make UCL more sustainable. Contact your department’s Green Champion, find out about environmental groups and societies across UCL and make sure you're getting UCL's sustainability updates. And the Sustainability Team are always on hand to help with any questions or issues: get in touch!
2. Love food; hate waste. 7 million tonnes of food and drink are thrown away from our homes every year in the UK. There are two main reasons why we throw away good food: we cook or prepare too much, or we don't use it in time. By making some small changes to how we shop and cook, you can save money and reduce your environmental impact. Find out more at www.lovefoodhatewaste.com
3. Take some simple steps to save energy. Whether it’s switching off lights or lab equipment, make it a habit. It’s a simple act, with a big impact. You can save around £30 a year just by remembering to turn your appliances off standby mode. Avoid overfilling your kettle and remember to stick lids on your saucepans to reduce energy required by up to 90% (and cooks food quicker). And if you're in UCL residences, you can also win prizes.
4. Take advantage of being in Europe's greenest city. Around 47% of London is green space. Get some peace and quiet, and escape urban life in one of London's hundreds of parks. You could also travel east to explore Rainham Marshes, north to the ancient woodland of Epping Forest, or west to the world-famous nature reserves of Richmond Park and the London Wetland Centre.
5. Use Warpit (this is one for UCL staff). We don’t half buy a lot of stuff at UCL. Warpit is a free service for all staff to loan, lend and give equipment and resources. It’s all about reducing what we buy, spend and waste. And it's helping to save UCL tens of thousands of pounds a year. So whether you've got furniture, equipment or stationery you'd like to get rid of, or just want to claim freebies, sign up now!
6. Lug your mug and save money. Are you a tea fiend or coffee addict? Did you know that more than 2.5bn cups are thrown away in the UK every year – enough to go round the world five and a half times? Bringing in your own reusable cup will help save a lot of waste, and you'll also get 10p off hot drinks from all of UCL's cafes (which, you'll be pleased to know, are all Fairtrade Certified).
7. Travel actively. Making your journeys more active is a great way to improve your health, save money and reduce your environmental impact. Why not start walking or cycling to UCL? You could start with one day a week, and work up. You don't even need a bike to get started. Through London's Santander Cycles scheme, you can hire a bike for as little as £2. You can find more tips and info on the UCL cycling pages.
8. Boost your sustainability literacy. Improving your knowledge of sustainability isn't just good for the planet. It's good for your employability, as more employers are looking for students with the skills to work in an increasingly international and interconnected world. Why not visit UCL's environmental research domain, or drop in to one of the university's many open lectures?
9. Get your head around recycling. UCL currently recycles around 69% of its waste. We have a target to increase this to 85%, but it'll take efforts from everyone, staff and students, to make this happen. And recycling in most of UCL is simple. Almost all items can go in the bins marked 'mixed recycling'. Materials in these bins are sorted off-site and over 90% goes on to be recycled. Find out more about recycling at UCL.
10. Make your voice heard. Changing individual behaviours is a key part of improving our environmental impact. But political and structural change is also a necessary to drive sustainability forward. Whether it's lobbying your local MP on the issues you feel strongly about (you find and contact them at www.writetothem.com), supporting a charity or pushing for change within UCL itself, there are a huge number of ways to make your voice heard.