Sustainability in practice

At the University of Westminster, we are addressing the everyday issues of environmental sustainability by understanding our impacts and measuring our results. As a student or as a member of staff you can take part in our campaigns, and also perform more sustainable tasks at the University and at home.

Here are some handy tips of what you can do on your day to day to minimise your environmental impacts, but you do not have to stop there – use your own ideas, tell us about them ([email protected]), and we will encourage the entire University to do the same.

Reduce the Juice

Reduce the Juice is a sustainability engagement programme for students living at the University's Halls of Residence. The aim is to empower and encourage students to embed sustainable behaviours through targeted messaging, effective branding and relatable data communication. Halls across the University will compete in month-long events, and will also enter into a UK-wide competition, with a range of prizes available from free meals to Lush vouchers! This will result in energy and water savings and increases in the rates of recycling across our student accommodations.

Energy

1. Turn off lights

If you’re the last person to leave a room please switch off the lights. This simple practice could apply at home as well as at work and University. Even though we use energy-saving lights at the University of Westminster, switching off does make a difference.

2. Adjust your computer’s power settings

You can adjust the power settings on your laptop or PC (regardless of whether you are using Windows or a Mac). Try configuring the settings to switch off in a staggered fashion over time. You can set the monitor to switch off first and then make adjustments to the sleep and hibernate configuration. Little adjustments add up and you are not only saving power but making the machine last longer.

3. Boil only as much water as you need

There is no point in boiling a whole kettle full of water for only one cup. Boil what you need. Most modern kettles have a gauge to indicate the cups of water. Full kettles take longer to boil and then waste all the stored energy as they cool down. Encourage your workplace to invest in a wall-mounted boiler.

4. Turn off electrical appliances when you are not using them.

Switch off devices completely. A single computer and monitor left on overnight will cost £38 or 256 kg of CO2 per year. Televisions and other devices that are left on standby use a small amount of residual energy which adds up over a year. Switching devices off completely also reduces the risk of fire.

A plug extension board with switches for each socket allows you greater control of what is on and off. Use one plug extension for the television and DVD player. Switch off the entire extension board when you want to turn off all devices.

Energy-saving lamps are cheap and can be bought on most high streets.

5. Tune the thermostat

Turn down the thermostat by one degree in winter and wear one extra layer of clothing instead.

6. Eat more local, seasonal food

This will reduce the energy needed to grow and transport food, and support the local economy.

7. Rechargeable batteries

Invest in a battery charger and rechargeable batteries. This investment will pay off after a year and from then you will go on saving as most rechargeable batteries take at least 1,000 charges.

Work is being done to develop handheld devices with internal solar panels to charge them. You might have seen desktop calculators with this technology, and it could be available for mobile telephones and even cars in the future.

Recycle and reuse

1. Put waste into the correct bin

Most buildings in the University have several bins clustered together to form a recycle bank. All recyclable items go into the mixed recycling bins with a green lid. All non-recyclable items go into general waste bin with a black lid. There are also specific bins for batteries at buildings reception, and coffee cups bins near the coffee shops.

2. Recycle clothes

Charity shops are among the best recyclers. Buy the odd bit of clothing for fancy dress or donate items that you no longer need. The University has a charity bin at the back of Harrow Halls where you can dispose pieces of clothes you are no longer using.

3. Reduce Food Waste

About one third of the food produced in the world goes to waste (FAO). Check your fridge often to see which products need to be used soon, and store food in your freezer to keep it for longer. Always plan your portions in advance and share food with your flatmates. If you live in a University Hall, request your food stickers to highlight which food you want to share. If you can’t reuse food, place it in a food caddy available at Marylebone Halls and 115 New Cavendish, or in the general waste bins.

Transport

1. Cycling

Cycling is cheaper than any other form of transport, except walking, and it is a great way to keep fit. Look around you, there are more cyclists than ever taking to the streets. The University of Westminster provides facilities for cyclists at most campuses, and also organises many events around cycling. Pop in to our maintenance session – Dr. Bike, grab your free breakfast bits at the next Bike Breakfast, or book a session with a Bike Buddy and find out more about safes routes for cycling.

2. Bicycle Hire Scheme

If you don't have a bicycle, the Santander Transport for London (TfL) Cycle Hire Scheme might be a good option. The scheme can work out cheaper than the cost of maintaining your own bike. TfL also offera bicycle training courses free of charge. Take advantage of these and enjoy the freedom of the city. Most central London University sites have cycle hire docking stations nearby.

3. Walk

It does not seem obvious, but walking can be a quicker alternative than the Tube or bus. People think London is a huge city and the distances between Tube stops are vast – not always true. Central London is easy to walk around and you will find new and wonderful things to see. You can walk from our Marylebone Campus to 309 Regent Street in 20 minutes. Take up the 10,000 steps a day challenge to stay fit and healthy. Fancy joining us for a walk? Keep an eye on the Sustainability Blog for more information on the themed walks around Baker Street area.

4. Public transport

Is your student Oyster Card sorted? It offers you cheaper fares and flexibility to use different modes of transport - tubes, buses, trains, and overground. Also, it is more sustainable to use public transport, rather than jumping on a car and driving. Explore your options and plan your journey!

Water

1. Drink tap water

Bottled water can be expensive and a lot of carbon emissions are released to produce and transport it. Buy one bottle then re-fill it at home or around the University. In London all tap water is fit to drink unless marked otherwise. If in doubt, ask someone. London water is filtered and treated to make and keep it safe.

2. Turn off taps

Try not to leave the tap running when you are brushing your teeth. Don't walk away from the kitchen sink and leave the tap running.

3. Use short flush

A full flush can use five litres of water. Most modern toilet cisterns have two flush options, if you can, use the short flush. It saves a lot of water.

4. Take showers not baths

Taking a four-minute shower uses less water and less energy than running the average bath, and it's also a more efficient way of washing.

Food

1. Buy local

Buying locally sourced food reduces the amount of carbon emissions produced from transporting goods around the world. While we can’t grow bananas in Britain, we do produce a lot of vegetables. When you go shopping, look at the label to see where a product has come from. Buy local food and reduce demand for all those journeys.

2. Buy seasonal

Seasonal fruits and vegetables taste better. They are cheaper, have less additives, and have a smaller carbon footprint, as they don’t need to travel from miles away.. What about changing your ordinary shopping list for a seasonal calendar and enjoying the most of each season? 

3. Fair trade

When we a buy a Fairtrade product we ensure that farmers, producers, or miners are receiving a fair price for their work, which empowers families and communities in developing countries. Those products range from clothes, to coffee, chocolate, sugar, wine, gold, and beauty products, among others. As a Fairtrade University, you will find Fairtrade products available within our canteens and can also join us for Fairtrade Fortnight and other events organised throughout the year.

4. Vegetarian

The production of meat requires a large amount of water and land. It also has a significant carbon footprint. By opting for more vegetarian meals, you can reduce your environmental impact and minimise the risk of having long-term health issues. Is it too hard for you to not eat meat? Instead you can be a part-time carnivore and adopt new habits such as meat free Mondays

Innovations

1. Your ideas

Your bright ideas can support better practices and build more resilient answers to environmental issues. The Sustainability Team is open to receive ideas that conform to the Sustainability Key Performance Indicators and sponsor sustainability projects. Got interested? View the Projects Approval Process and get in touch with us.

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