What is sustainability and being ‘green’? 

Sustainability is about reducing your negative impact on the environment around you to keep a clean, healthy and safe world for you and everyone else. Becoming more sustainable means finding a balance between the environmental, social and economic elements of daily life. 

Why do we need to save energy? 

Most of the energy we use comes from fossil fuels like coal and oil. These are non-renewable sources of energy which means there is a limited amount on the planet and once we have used it all, it is gone forever. It is predicted that we only have enough oil to last another 40 years so we need to save as much energy as possible as well as finding other sources of energy. 

Fossil fuels also cause another problem, as burning them to generate the energy releases carbon dioxide (CO2) which affects our climate. This is causing sea levels to rise and threatens plant and animal life. 

Why should I do my bit? 

Reducing your environmental impact means protecting the spaces you live and work in so they are safer, healthier and more attractive for you and your family. Being 'green' can bring you direct benefits and save you money. And of course, you can get a buzz from knowing you’ve done your bit for the environment and everyone else around you too. 

What can I do to become more ‘green’ around the University? 

Recycling 
There are so many ways in which you can 'do your bit'! There are recycling bins dotted around the University, by putting paper, plastics and other waste in the correct disposable bins, you're on your merry way to helping the planet. Don't worry about getting confused on what to put in each bin - what each bin accepts is printed on the side. Have a cheeky look! 

Single-use plastics 
Single-use plastics are a major issue in today's world and what most people don't know is that even if you recycle plastic it is never fully broken down. It exists in tiny toxic particles, a lot of which now you will find in your seafood. Ew. Every bit of plastic we have created as a species, since the first invention of plastic, still exists today and will never decompose. Avoid using plastic bottles, invest in a refillable bottle, plastic cutlery, food products with a lot of plastic packaging, bring your own bags to the supermarket etc. Around the University avoid using the plastic cups that's are provided by the drinking fountains and bring your own bottle! 

Plastic straws 
Cheap and convenient, it’s estimated that easily 60 million plastic straws (aka drinking straws) are thrown away every day! Straws take 200 years to breakdown and even then they never fully decompose. Here's five reasons why you should avoid using straws not just at University, but in general: 

1. Toxins. There is mounting evidence that plastics, even when labelled BPA-free (which straws are not), have the potential to leach into what we eat and drink. So, using a plastic straw is an unnecessary risk for toxic exposure. 

2. Wrinkles. Similar to smoking, the act of sucking on a straw over a span of years can increase wrinkles around your mouth. Why not proudly earn some smile lines instead for being an eco-warrior? 

3. Rarely recycled. Many plastic straws are made from polypropylene #5 making them harder to recycle, especially since they aren’t marked with the recycling triangle symbol. As a result, they end up in landfills and oceans for generations to come. 

4. Contaminated water sources. The accumulation of plastic in general ultimately threatens drinking water safety since landfills aren’t leak-proof and petro-based waste eventually seeps into underground water sources. 

5. Wildlife threatened. Animals on land and at sea commonly ingest pieces of straws as they break down into smaller pieces and look like other forms of food. That can lead to malnutrition, gene mutation, and even death. 

Saving electricity 

This one is so easy! By turning of lights during the day and turning off plugs when they're not in use can save so much energy! Also during the summer try opening the windows allowing natural air to ventilate rooms rather than using high energy consuming air con units. 

Will becoming more ‘green’ cost me money? 

Working to protect the environment you live in can actually save you money in many ways. Walk the children to school instead of paying for petrol or bus fares, reduce your energy bills by consuming less electricity or save money by wasting less food. Even buying a more energy efficient washing machine should save you money in the longer term. 

Bucks Students' Union Waste, Recycling and Environmental Policy

Bucks Students' Union Waste, Recycling and Environmental Policy

 

References

1. www.web4residents.org.uk/about-going-green-with-swan/going-green-faqs/ 

2. www.thegreengirls.com/5-reasons-to-avoid-plastic-straws/