By Suzanna Jones, Sustainability Officer
If you’ve watched a David Attenborough documentary recently you’ll know how stunningly incredible our planet and environment is, but you’ll also know that it’s in deep trouble. We have to fall back in love with the environment, not just what we see on TV but our local environment, which I’m sure many of us have done over the last year. World Environment Day (5 June 2021) is celebrated in more than 140 countries and it’s a day for us to reflect on the importance of the environment but also pledge how we’re going to help it.
What we’re doing at South & City College
Consideration of the environment and sustainability is becoming more and more important. At South & City College Birmingham, we are taking responsibility for our operations and striving to do better. With a dedicated Sustainability Officer role in place, we can identify areas where we can cut our emissions, host initiatives and projects to engage students and staff in sustainability issues, and to work with local organisations and form partnerships where we can bring about real change in our college and local community.
We also have a Sustainability Group made up of staff from a range of positions and departments around the college, all working together to provide ideas, solutions and support for bringing about change in the college.
We are now developing a five-year strategy to set sustainability targets in our leadership and governance, teaching and learning, as well as estates and operations.
Some of our plans
- Bee hotels: bees are vital to both pollinate the food we need and pollinate many of the trees and flowers that provide habitats for wildlife. But bee populations are declining because of human activities. We want to help bee populations and with our students, create bee hotels to give bees a space to nest.
- Procurement: Become more environmentally conscious with how we procure
- Recruit student green champions
- Reduce waste and food waste: recycle more, waste less and prevent food waste.
- Integrate sustainability into the curriculum
- Teach staff and students about climate change
What we can all do this Environment Day
- Calculate your carbon footprint by going to the Carbon Footprint website.
- Don’t waste food, only buy what you need. In the UK alone we throw away 8.3 million tonnes of food each year. Not only is this a huge waste of money, when food decomposes in landfill it produces methane which is 25 times more harmful than carbon dioxide in speeding up climate change.
- Reduce, reuse and recycle your waste. By disposing of your waste responsibly you can help to save materials and resources from being sent to a landfill site. But make sure what you’re recycling is actually recyclable.
- Don’t put normal waste in the recycling: it’s great you want to recycle but if you’re just putting normal waste in the recycling bin then it’s actually doing more harm than good. It will have to be separated out at the plant or discarded as general waste because it is ‘contaminated’. Common mistakes with recycling are; greasy pizza boxes, bubble wrap, paper towels, coffee cups, crisp packets.
- Turn down the heating and put on a jumper. Try keeping the heating down in the winter and first layer up before you go to switch the radiators on.
- Walk, cycle, skip, and get moving if you can. Ditch the car and reduce your carbon footprint whilst looking after your health at the same time.
- Go out and enjoy it! There are beautiful parts of nature accessible all around us, we just have to go looking for it sometimes. Find a canal route to walk on, a hike or trail, or spend some time in your local park. The more we spend time in nature the more we come to appreciate it.