Read on for the 101 on the upcoming ‘Greenspace Fortnight’, the University’s biggest green event of this academic year. Running from 27 February – 12 March, and coinciding with national Fairtrade Fortnight, we are learning to live, work and travel more sustainably. There are Fairtrade bananas galore and plenty of competitions and promotions to get involved in!
First and foremost, food. Greenspace have teamed with YUM, the University Catering team, to bring 4 more vegetarian sandwiches onto the shelves – look out for these in university cafes! YUM will also be partaking in ‘Red Meat Free Fridays’ during the fortnight. This is something you could try at home too, giving up beef alone will reduce our carbon footprint more than giving up driving a car. This steers well clear of ‘overzealous evangelical’ veganism and animal agriculture does have an unnecessarily huge impact on the environment. During the fortnight, college catering will also be promoting the use of local produce.
Formal hype – a chance for all the usual fun, with the bonus of locally sourced and Fairtrade food. See if your college is getting involved, the menu looks divine. My college environmental committee and I have had fun planning for the event, sorting out engaging speakers, appropriate entertainment and recycled table décor.
Calling all Bake Off fans – how about putting some extra thought into where your ingredients are from? Chocolate production has destroyed thousands of acres of rainforest, and it’s estimated that 40% of cacao is still farmed by slaves, often children. The sugar industry is similar. Next time you catch yourself wondering whether to spend an extra 50p on ethical produce in Tesco, why not go for it? Buying Fairtrade and organic does make a difference. When you’ve purchased your happy ingredients, get them to use and send Greenspace a photo to enter the Big Fairtrade Bake competition – there’s Fairtrade bounty to be won. The Vice-Chancellor and the Green Dean shared a cake for the occasion – if you can guess the Fairtrade ingredients in it, you win a prize! There are even more potential winnings in the ‘Every Small Step’ competition – submit a pledge regarding how you can reduce your impact on the environment to be entered into this prize draw.
Does your bike need a touch-up? Recyke-y-Bike are giving away FREE bike maintenance checks during Greenspace Fortnight (subject to normal opening hours). It’s also an ideal time to be on the hunt for some uni stash, there’s a 10% online discount on all Fairtrade University clothing (https://shop.dur.ac.uk/).
College Environment Committees will also be planning their own events during the fortnight so keep an eye out for their activities. At my college, Cuth’s, we will be holding a plant pot campaign, a film screening, and potentially giving out free cake in exchange for an environmental pledge.
Climate change and sustainability are controversial issues, facing challenges from new governments, companies prioritising lower costs over ethical matters and individuals feeling too insignificant to affect change. But, what if we slightly adjusted the way we think about our day-to-day interactions with the world? A subtle, simple change in thought pattern. When purchasing, take a second – what impact has this product had on the world? How am I going to affect the world by using it? If it’s not looking positive, is there an alternative? There are plenty of ethical ranges out there, many of which are 100% manageable on a student budget and these changes quickly become second nature. Enjoy Greenspace Fortnight and think about what your small change could be!
For more information on Greenspace Fortnight, please visit www.durham.ac.uk/greenspace/greenspacefortnight/.