1: Could you explain what Green Week is, and its aims?
Put simply, Green Week is a student organised and lead week of activities and events aiming to raise awareness of pro-environmentalism and sustainability under all guises. This year, we are trying particularly hard to strengthen the community element of the week by aiming not only at a student audience but also at staff and the town more generally. Green Week has been running for several years (exact quantity unknown!) and has seen various degrees of success, but, without a doubt, the line up this time around is the biggest and most varied to date, it’s truly a university event!
2: How has the organisation been?
I know I’m going to regret saying this, but I don’t think it could have gone any better! We have had a huge amount of support from local environmental groups and union societies and all of their hard work has made this a bit of a dream. There is, of course, still a lot to do in the coming week, but fingers crossed the trend continues!
3: Could you recommend a couple of your events?
A very hard question as of course, I want to recommend them all! But I’ll go with two of my personal favourites. The first of which is the Green Week Sustainability Fayre, which is taking place on the 25th between 1pm and 4pm in Parliament Hall. We have around 25 stalls with a huge range of different activities and groups. To sum it up quickly, there are three main things going on. First, we’ll be teaching people new skills e.g. juggling via a Transition University of St Andrews Skill Share. Second, it provides a place for people to swap and trade items like old books and CDs in an attempt to reduce waste. Finally, it introduces people to local environmental groups and societies. So there’s a lot to see and a lot to learn!
The second is unfortunately a solely staff event, but one that highlights the innovation and enthusiasm of our University Environment Team (who I am very grateful to!) They are running a staff Top Gear event with the help of the Energy Saving Trust. Instead of testing how fast you can go round the track, the event next Tuesday tests how environmentally friendly your driving is, and so, in this version of ‘star in the reasonably priced car’ the drivers will be doing their bit for sustainability!
4: What is your opinion of the University’s green policy and green achievements, and do you think carbon neutrality is viable for the University?
Exemplary, but too well hidden! The University does a huge amount to increase its environmental credentials, but sadly, very little of this is recognised by the student population. For example, the Kenly wind farm proposal, the fact that food waste from halls in composted ‘on campus’ and put straight back onto our gardens, and the fact that the new medical building is among one of the most environmentally friendly new-builds in the UK. I really do think they should be praised and their efforts recognised more widely.
With regards to carbon neutrality, this is no small task! Whilst I am aware that this is among the University’s aims and goals in the coming years, no exact timeline has been given. Personally, I believe that in order for it to happen, which I do not doubt is possible, a deadline needs to be a set, and clear and realistic goals put in place to meet this. It would certainly be a huge boost to the status of St Andrews as an environmental leader.
5: Given the immense local pressure against the Kenly wind farm proposals, what is your stance on this issue?
A very contentious question! As an individual I have very strong views on energy policy and how we face the challenge of meeting our increasing needs and securing our supply in an environmentally sympathetic way. On a macro-generation scale, I do not think that wind can fill this gap. However, I do believe that wind micro-generation, which is what the University is proposing, is a viable option. It is not only a strong statement of a forward thinking institution but it will, in the long term, contribute to a current drive to reduce soaring energy costs and, in so doing, will free up resources for other valuable causes. But long may the debate continue!
6: What could students interested in becoming more ‘green’ do to lower their carbon footprint?
So many options, so little time! From food miles, to personal miles there is a huge potential to lower your carbon and increase your ‘green’ whilst, in many cases, improving you lifestyle. To start with, I would recommend going to some of our events this week! They will be informative and fun and we hope, will give you the knowledge you need to go on to make a difference!