Go Green Week: Universities champion sustainable behaviour change

Universities across the country are switching off appliances, sending excess clothing to charity shops and cycling to seminars as part of national 'Go Green Week' - a week dedicated to raising awareness on tackling climate issues.

Running from 8-12 February, Go Green Week will encourage students from schools, colleges and universities to participate in events covering energy management, food waste, clean transport, recycling and reuse.

The leading developer and operator of purpose-built student accommodation, Unite Students, is leading the charge, running local events across 138 student properties in the UK.

Unite Students managing director Richard Smith said: “We are proud to again be supporting Go Green Week. As a business, we are continuously aiming to improve the social and environmental aspects of our operations, and Go Green Week provides an ideal and fun way to engage students in energy and waste saving initiatives.

“As well as providing our students with a safe and welcoming home, we believe giving them the opportunity to be part of big initiatives such as this one is of paramount importance. It’s always great to see how much can be achieved by working together, and having a common goal is a powerful motivator for successful engagement.”

Students will start Go Green Week by switching off appliances to save energy and any unneeded clothes or items that they own will be sent to charity shops. The students will be taught how use remaining food leftovers and encouraged to cycle to and from lessons.

By the end of the Week, it is hoped that students will make individual pledges to help lower their carbon footprint.

Unite Students will provide a variety of ‘Sustainability Champions’ to work with students and higher education partners to plan and implement a variety of activities.

In order to pique students’ interests, the University of Reading will be hosting flash mobs and recycling sculpture workshops to engage students in a creative manner. Meanwhile, the University of Bedfordshire will be using meat free meals to highlight how switching up dietary norms can help reduce carbon emissions, while the University of Leicester is hosting a ‘zumbathon’.

Divestment dilemma

Since last year’s ‘Go Green Week’, 18 universities have divested away from fossil fuels.

Last month, the National Union of Students (NUS) called on all UK higher education facilities to play their part in removing a £100m ‘tip of the iceberg’ fossil fuel fund and divest assets into renewable technology.

Despite the increased divestment, sustainability is a strategic priority at just one quarter of UK further education institutions according to a survey from the Environmental Association for Universities & Colleges (EAUC).

Matt Mace

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