Swansea University hasn’t had the best track record for being environmentally friendly. This year, the University received a “fail” from the People and Planet University Green League, but dedicated Union members told The Siren how they plan to improve our reputation and make Swansea a greener and better place.

The Students’ Union has been campaigning on green issues and lobbying the University for many years. The Union already has the Silver Green Impact Award from NUS (it’s going for Gold this year!) and a motion was passed in the first Student Forum of the term to not travel by air to any destination under 400 road miles away in the UK.

Swansea University SU Welfare Officer Charlotte Britton explained what’s being done to improve the environmental impact of the University.

“The University hired Heidi as the Sustainability Manager for the Estates Department over the summer, which is the biggest step the University has taken on environmental issues in a while. We’ve been working closely with her to explain what students would like to see.

“This year, I have already encouraged catering to start working towards the Soil Association Catering Mark – a scheme that incentivises catering outlets to use more sustainable, organic and local produce with higher welfare standards for meat, eggs and fish.”

Recycling has also been a huge campaign at the University. Students should have seen the recycling bins and bags being handed out just outside the gate in Singleton Park, and possibly also caught a glimpse of Charlotte Britton herself out to encourage students to recycle their household waste.

“I’ve been encouraging off-campus students to recycle more,” said Ms Britton. “In the last month, myself and volunteers have been knocking on the doors of almost 500 student houses in Brynmill and Uplands to give out recycling calendars and the information booklet we produced in conjunction with the council. I’ve also arranged for extra collection dates at the end of each term for students going home for the holidays, as well as updating Facebook and Twitter every Tuesday afternoon explaining what bags you can put out, and what goes in them.

“Over the summer, with the help of the previous Environment & Ethics officer Stephen Marshall, residential services agreed to have 2 bins in every household in the village to make recycling easier – this was a big win for us as the easier it is to recycle, the more likely students are going to.

“If you live off campus, don’t forget to recycle. If you need bags, we have a constant supply up in the Officer’s foyer on the 3rd Floor of Union House. Also – if you want to start recycling your food waste, it’s really easy. Just email me at welfareofficer@swansea-union.co.uk with your name, address and how many people live in the house and I’ll get a food waste kit sent out to you!”

Rob Abrams, Swansea University’s Environment and Ethics Officer; also spoke with The Siren about his work with environmental campaigns.

“In regards to environmental campaigns so far this term on campus. The main project that I’ve been pushing is the Swansea University branch of People and Planet’s national ‘Big Green Makeover’ campaign. So far we’ve had just over 30 sign ups from students interested in being trained as volunteers to give energy-advice clinics and run home-visits to help fellow students as well as members of staff save money and energy at home. Hopefully, we will be running our first training day on the 26th November, with help from People and Planet and Swansea’s Environment Centre.

“After the first lot of volunteers are trained, we’ll start organising the advice clinics straight away with the hope of being able to collect follow-up information to survey any behavioural changes later in the Spring Term. If anyone would like to get involved with the training session, they should contact me at environment@swansea-union.co.uk.”

The Sustainability Forum is also seeking help from students to run their bee-hives and allotment projects. The projects have been started largely with staff involvement, but if the space allocated is to be looked after properly and not forgotten about in years to come, the projects need to be taken on by students. Anyone interested in these should contact susforum@swansea.ac.uk

The Conservation and Ecology society have campaigned successfully to get bat boxes installed on campus to protect the various local species; the key thing about these is that by law, if they’re put up, they can’t be taken down. The society has also launched an ecology based photography competition, with a theme of ‘winter’.

Helpful Hint

Things like switching lights off when you leave the room, and keeping an eye on how much the heating is on are simple, easy things that everyone can do – if you’re paying the bills it can make them a lot cheaper too!