Interested in getting involved in environmental sustainability related initiatives? Want to make a change and learn more about Climate Action? Manpreet Kaur shares her experience of engaging with environmental action on campus and the lifestyle changes she has made to become more environmentally friendly.
Environmental sustainability sits very close to my heart. Aside from picking a PhD project that is linked to sustainability, I try to keep up with climate news, love Indigenous philosophy and ways of living (here’s an interesting article and TED talk), and like to get involved as much as I can. This includes education, personal lifestyle changes and political viewpoints. Over the years, I have become more involved with the conversation around sustainability and here are some ways in which you too can take part in that conversation and join this movement.
Become a Warwick Sustainability Champion. This is something open to both staff and students. There are no time commitments, it only means that you join the mailing list and therefore receive updates on everything going on at Warwick, and opportunities to get involved in. There are also sustainability champion meetings that you could attend which are led by the Sustainability Team. I remember attending one and it was great. You are also welcome to suggest improvements online.
One of the things Green Champions have done is set up departmental Green Action Teams. There are now such teams in several departments and I am, of course, a member of the Chemistry Green Action Team. The team welcomes anyone from the department (alongside collaboration with other STEM departments) and meets at least termly to discuss how to improve the sustainability of the department, as well as making laboratories as sustainable as possible. There is an MS Teams set up for the Green Action team so the discussion is always ongoing, year round, outside of the meetings. This year, the chemistry department organised their Green Week and put up many events and activities ranging from a Green competition to a book club organised in collaboration with NEMP. Other events included a sustainability themed open mic event as well as promoting the Chemistry Strava club. In this way, these teams encourage teamwork within departments, and joining the team has helped me a lot. Seeing the enthusiasm and passion with which everyone in the team works to improve sustainability has given me hope and motivation when I have not always found the news headlines around Climate Change very positive.
Recycling is another big thing. Did you know that this page on the Warwick website lists the A-Z of recycling? There is a crisps packets recycling bin in the Engineering building as well as in the SU building. There is also a stationary recycling box on the first floor of the chemistry building (CBRF). I’m not sure how the access is right now but I am keeping all the crisps packets and stationery I have got so I can throw everything in these bins once things are better and I have access. You might want to check if your department offers something similar. If not, why not try to set something up?
Some of my favourite phone apps include We Don’t Have Time for Climate-related News, Giki Zero to calculate carbon footprint and tips on how to live more sustainably, and Ecosia, a web browser that uses revenue from your searches to plant trees. Other apps out there include Too Good To Go, which finds local food that hasn’t been sold in time so available at a cheaper price and OceanHero, a web browser that uses ad revenue to pay for collection of plastic waste in oceans.
There are also many lifestyle changes that you could make. Try to find reusable alternatives to single-use products. Warwick offers lots of advice around cycling. You could treat yourself to a few books if you like, to understand more about the challenge or read Warwick’s student sustainability journal – GLOBUS. Some of the charities taking up climate action would be Greenpeace and Amnesty International (they recognise that climate injustices can trigger and/or fuel humanitarian crises), for example, so check out the petitions they are organising and share material on your social media. Think about who you vote for. This is likely the single biggest thing you could do to help. It is going to take a lot to tackle climate change; having leaders who are on our side is going to make a significant difference. Check out the societies at Warwick you could get involved in.
There are lots of exciting ways to get involved. How much you do depends on how much time you can make for these activities. I have found that engaging with this cause alongside my PhD project has been very fulfilling.
Do you have any other ideas on how to become more environmentally friendly, and get involved in Climate Action? Tweet us at @ResearchEx, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a comment below.
Manpreet Kaur is a first year PhD student in the Department of Chemistry. She has been at Warwick since 2016, and did her BSc and MRes here. Her research project focuses on the design of photoelectrocatalytic systems for the synthesis of nitrogen containing compounds. You can follow her on Twitter here and further details about her project and background can be found here.