Hello and welcome (back) to all you students at Glasgow University! Summer is sadly now over and university is back in full swing. And of course, along with that, the committees and societies are starting up their work for the year! GUCA has been very active over the past few years and we don’t plan on slowing down anytime soon! This year we have a continuing long running campaign, and a new university focused one.
As you may or may not know, two years ago we successfully convinced the University to commit to a complete divestment from fossil fuels, making them the first university in Europe to do so. Following on from this huge success we developed the Fossil Free Strathclyde campaign. This campaign was started by GUCA members in an attempt to take divestment to the wider Glasgow community.
Fossil Free Strathclyde
Fossil Free Strathclyde has focused it’s attention on the Strathclyde pension fund who invest £752 million in fossil fuels. The aim is to push the pension fund into complete divestment from these fossil fuels. The campaign has now expanded to include people from all over Glasgow and has been establishing links with various other organisations in an attempt to grow its influence and create awareness for its cause. A great amount of progress has been made so far and the campaign will be carrying on this coming year. If you’d like to find out more or get involved then you can find Fossil Free Strathclyde on Facebook and Twitter, or reach out to them via their website, www.fossilfreestrathclyde.wordpress.com.
Sustainable Food Campaign
Alongside our continuing support for the Fossil Free campaign, GUCA has started a new campaign that is more focused on our university and its students. After a lot of discussion and a vote we decided to take on the issue of food waste produced by the university and its students.
Food waste is a huge issue within the UK – not only with the food that is thrown away, but also with the packaging food is commonly served in being consigned to landfill. Our research over the summer has led us to believe that while the university does produce food waste, the majority of this is produced by the students both on campus and at home. The university however, is definitely guilty of using packaging that really doesn’t help the problem.
Because of these findings, this campaign is going to be multifaceted. One step is making sure the university makes it as easy as possible for students to reduce the waste their food leaves behind. For this part of the campaign we have chosen to target an easy change within the university: change form un-recyclable paper drinks cups to a biodegradable environmentally friendly option. Not many people actually realise that the cups that the university serves tea, coffee, or soup in cannot actually be recycled. This is because of the polyethylene lining that sticks to the inside of the cups to make them waterproof. The UK throws away 2.5 billion of these cups a year. In fact, we gets through 10’000 of these cups in just two minutes. The amount of waste this produces is ridiculous, but it can be changed. GUCA is currently looking into the biodegradable options for the university and working to promote this simple and efficient change that would reduce the waste produced on our campus massively.
Hand in hand with this goes our efforts to get the university to place more food waste bins around campus and to promote these bins more widely to ensure that students have the means to reduce their waste throughout the day. But of course, if these bins are going to be implemented, the university need to know that students actually want to use them and know how to!
We throw away 7 million tonnes of food and drink from our home every year and more than half of this food and drink we could have eaten. Actually, wasting food costs the average household £470 a year. I’m sure we can all agree that as students that extra £470 a year would be lovely to keep in our bank accounts! Not only that, but if we all stop wasting food that could have been eaten, the benefit to the planet would be the equivalent of taking 1 in 4 cars off the road. In addition, the food waste of good food and drink is associated with 4% of the UK’s total water footprint.
This is why GUCA has chosen to tackle this issue this year. There are so many basic changes that we can all make both at home and while at university that will make such a great impact on the planet. When we spoke to new students at the freshers fair so many of them said to us that they wanted to know what they could do by themselves to make a difference. This year, GUCA is taking that into consideration and making sure that we provide students with all the information they need to reduce their food waste and help make a difference for the future of our planet.
What’s Coming Up?
Throughout the year we will be hosting a number of events, running a weekly blog series, setting GUCA challenges, and trying out a number of different student engagement techniques to make sure this information gets out there. If any of you have any areas that you particularly want advice on or if you have ideas of how to get the message out there, then please feel free to send us a facebook message or email. This campaign is really going to be for the students, so your input is vital. Lets work together this year to make sure the university, all us students, and everyone else we can reach does their best to reduce their food waste and to make a difference.