Blog: How To Make Student Groups Environmentally Friendly

Given the Climate Emergency Motion that recently passed, this year we’ll be spending some time looking at the overall sustainability of the Students’ Union. In January this will include revising our current strategic plan, and finding ways to reduce our environmental footprint will feature in the long term goals of the Union as a whole.

Student groups are a huge part of what we do, so to begin, here are some small but effective top tips from myself and VP Sport Dom Brown on how to make your student groups more environmentally friendly.

Socials

We love a good social here at Royal Holloway, there is arguably nothing more entertaining than watching our lovely groups cover Medicine in glitter, and we always do our best to clear it up. However, sometimes this can be tricky. We rarely take time to fully consider the environmental effects of glitter making it into our waterways and oceans.

Did you know that there are biodegradable options available? They cost roughly the same too, so next time you bulk buy your glitter, do consider it as an option! Alongside this, any point at which we can cut back on balloon and glow stick use would also be fantastic.

Dress-up socials are one of the most fun parts of university life. When planning your fancy dress themes, try and think of ideas where previous outfits could be reused or adapted. It saves money for people buying new outfits for each theme and reduces environmental impact – two birds one stone!

Facility Use

This one’s very simple. Don’t forget to make sure lights are out (if possible) when leaving a space, and that computers and screens are logged/switched off. Really, it’s that easy!

Transport

When travelling to competitions, match days or just for a trip, share a lift where possible and make sure that your cars and buses are full. This avoids unnecessary emissions caused by taking more vehicles than needed. Alternatively, check if there is the opportunity to use public transport, always worth looking into.

Speaking of match days, if you haven’t already invested in reusable water bottles for your club (or individually), now would be a good time to have that conversation. We have a real issue with single use water bottles and other rubbish being left on the side of pitches, so hopefully we can begin to tackle that!

Freshers’ Fair

We all know that a well-designed flyer or cheeky sticker are brilliant in getting those crucial sign-ups at Freshers’ Fair. Just keep an eye out on what you’re printing, can it be printed smaller? Or double sided? Unfortunately due to GDPR regulations (cue collective groan), you will have to collect email addresses on paper instead of electronically.

Speaking of printing, we all have lovely sparkling new Google Drives now, so sharing documents within your committee without printing has never been easier, don’t forget to utilise them! Creative societies, take a look at how many programmes you sold last year (or estimate if you don’t have figures) and adjust accordingly to ensure you aren’t printing more than necessary.

If you’re purchasing merch to hand out, attempt to avoid single use plastics. Please consider where in the world it’s travelling from. It’s good to take into account the environmental impact as a result of the air miles – try to buy locally where possible.

Purchasing

Don’t forget you can always buy and sell second hand equipment. This is a great way to make a cheeky profit and help the planet by reducing waste going to landfill!

What else can we do to help?

Oh, thank you so much for asking! You can start to make changes in your day-to-day lives, talk about sustainability and the climate crisis more, and help us out by sharing sustainability related content across your social media. You can also follow our Climate Action Society here.

Don’t forget we have a new ‘green fund’. Last year, we held a student vote to give you the opportunity to decide how much you want to pay for cups in Tommy’s Kitchen, to encourage you to bring reusable cups. The options we gave you were 20p and 50p, and a majority of students voted for 50p cups. The great news is that student groups will be able to bid to access to the money raised from the cups (the green fund) for sustainability initiatives! Keep an eye out for how to apply for the Group Development Fund in the new academic year.

Sophia Bolton // Vice President Societies & Media

Dom Brown // Vice President Sport