Ticking all the boxes as green group strives for an eco ‘gold’

Sue Henderson, front, with colleagues, from left, Katrin Dulitz, Joy Cook and Kim Nixon       Picture: OX67366 Damian Halliwell

Sue Henderson, front, with colleagues, from left, Katrin Dulitz, Joy Cook and Kim Nixon Picture: OX67366 Damian Halliwell Buy this photo

First published in News

On the face of it, you might not immediately put chemistry and sustainability in the same sentence.

However, if you dig deeper you will find that chemists are as committed to caring for their environment as any other group of people.

I work in the University of Oxford’s Department of Chemistry and for the last six months have been involved with a small team of staff and students – who I’ve nicknamed the Green Meanies – on the first leg of the journey to improve our workplace.

The opportunity arose because the university’s environmental sustainability team launched the National Union of Students (NUS) Green Impact scheme. This is an initiative designed to encourage departments to work towards delivering environmentally friendlier practices.

The Green Impact scheme centres on a workbook of criteria which each department must aim to meet in order to obtain awards – starting with bronze, then progressing to silver and gold.

Meeting fortnightly, the Green Meanies pick a theme from the workbook and discuss how it can be tackled. Some things are easy to tick off – the community section for example. I work in a department where people are keen to help others and several members of our department make up the Keytones, an amazing choir that performs concerts two or three times a year to help raise funds for charity – so that’s a tick.

Water: chemists use a lot of water, so reducing the volume used for experiments is a major long-term task. However, I discovered that we ensure we are economic with the use of our dishwashers and have an online method for reporting leaks in taps. More ticks.

Waste: with more than 1,000 people using the chemistry buildings, we can generate a lot of waste. But we’re aiming to reuse and recycle as much as possible. Chemical waste is very carefully monitored by the safety office, so that’s another tick.

Travel: hey, this is Oxford, everyone cycles – even the head of department. Brilliant, another tick. There is a requirement to attend conferences both here and abroad, so we’re promoting the use of Skype and other teleconferencing facilities to cut down travel and wasted time. Tick.

I love collecting stationery and the Green Impact scheme has provided me with a brilliant method of sharing any excess with others. My stationery amnesty means that items I don’t actually need are reused by others. Tick.

I have had great fun promoting Green Impact over the last few months. I’ve devised signs requesting that people turn off lights and recycle items and I’ve also been using the plasma display screens to get the messages across. If every five minutes you’re asked to use the red bin for recycling glass then it is bound to sink in.

Another tool is the Oxford chemistry staff and student weekly newsletter that I work on. This is my weapon for disseminating the need for good practice and change. More ticks.

I have learnt a lot in the last six months and hope to learn more as we take our Green Impact journey further with the support of the environmental sustainability team. Our fingers are crossed hoping we’ve done enough to achieve a bronze award, and we are already working on some projects that might help us to obtain silver next year.

With some chemistry experiments needing extreme temperatures and others needing constant streams of water it hasn’t been possible to turn chemistry green overnight – but I have certainly had some fun turning it bronze

  • If you would like to know more about Green Impact contact sustainability@admin.ox.ac.uk

 

Our top stories:

Update: Murder investigation after man "stabbed on a boat" in Abingdon

Oxford Mail:

7:09am Monday 20th October 2014

A MAN was stabbed to death in Abingdon last night.

Severe weather warning for Oxfordshire following Hurricane Gonzalo

Oxford Mail: After the heatwave comes the thunderstorms: 'Yellow Alert' as heavy rain forecast

2:40pm Monday 20th October 2014

SEVERE weather warnings are in place for Oxford tomorrow.

On-target Alfie Potter hails dream day as Oxford United regain winning habit + VIDEO

Oxford Mail:

9:30am Monday 20th October 2014

ALFIE Potter hailed a “perfect day” as he came off the bench to score and give Oxford United a much-needed victory over Tranmere Rovers.

Man who scared off burglars with a sword from his Witney home is left feeling 'a bag of nerves'

Oxford Mail:

8:30am Monday 20th October 2014

A BURGLARY victim who scared off his intruders while holding a sword said the incident had left him emotionally scarred.

Britain's Got Talent star Fabia and her feathered friends go burlesque for breast cancer funds in Cowley

Oxford Mail:

8:30am Monday 20th October 2014

OXFORD’S own burlesque star Fabia Cerra hosted a special dancing class over the weekend to raise money for charity.

DIDCOT POWER STATION FIRE: 'It was a bit of an inferno' + Video

Oxford Mail:

8:00am Monday 20th October 2014

A HUGE fire ripped through a cooling tower at Didcot Power Station last night.

Taking the sugar out of diet is film’s sweet plan for Oxfordshire residents' health

Oxford Mail:

7:30am Monday 20th October 2014

YOUNGSTERS from Rose Hill have taken to the silver screen to encourage families across Oxfordshire to make healthier food choices.

Cheers! Thousands hail the ale

Oxford Mail:

7:00am Monday 20th October 2014

THOUSANDS of beer-lovers flocked to Oxford Town Hall to raise a toast to real ale at the annual Oxford Beer Festival.

‘Save trees from chop to shield us from eyesore'

Oxford Mail:

7:00am Monday 20th October 2014

CONCERNS have been raised that felling trees near the Port Meadow student flats could worsen their impact on neighbouring people.

Network Bicester makes second attempt for planning permission to create business site

Oxford Mail: Cherwell district council logo

6:40am Monday 20th October 2014

PLANS for a new multi-million-pound business site on the edge of a Bicester housing estate have been re-submitted to Cherwell District Council.

Rising social care demands following child exploitation cases lead to council cash warning

Oxford Mail: Ian Hudspeth

6:30am Monday 20th October 2014

RISING demand in social care will make it even harder for the county council to balance the books next year, its leader has warned Ian Hudspeth revealed there was an overspend on adult and children’s social care this year.

Didcot steam enthusiast chuffed by Combe Mill show’s popularity

Oxford Mail:

6:30am Monday 20th October 2014

TRADITIONAL industries of wood and steam came together at the original sawmill and workshop of the Blenheim Palace estate, Combe Mill.

Gran 'had no alternative' but to starve herself to death

Oxford Mail: Scales of Justice

6:20am Monday 20th October 2014

AN Oxford grandmother who starved herself to death said before she died that she had “no alternative” given the UK’s laws against assisted suicide.

Patients facing delays when trying to see GP across county, says survey

Oxford Mail: Andrew Smith MP

6:00am Monday 20th October 2014

A THIRD of patients could not see their own doctor or get an appointment within a week, a survey revealed.

Comments (5)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

11:05am Tue 27 May 14

Oxonian says...

Being as smug as possible. Tick.
Being as smug as possible. Tick. Oxonian
  • Score: 2

12:18pm Tue 27 May 14

King Joke says...

Aka celebrating success. Tick.
Aka celebrating success. Tick. King Joke
  • Score: 0

5:32pm Tue 27 May 14

nat-obz says...

Those processes that produce waste that cannot be reused or recycled should be stopped to get another tick.
Those processes that produce waste that cannot be reused or recycled should be stopped to get another tick. nat-obz
  • Score: 3

6:41pm Tue 27 May 14

King Joke says...

You can't stop all of them though. You can cut down on them or think of ways to use (or sell!) the waste product.
You can't stop all of them though. You can cut down on them or think of ways to use (or sell!) the waste product. King Joke
  • Score: 0

10:39am Wed 28 May 14

nat-obz says...

Without reduction they can claim bronze, or perhaps silver, but not eco ‘gold’
Without reduction they can claim bronze, or perhaps silver, but not eco ‘gold’ nat-obz
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree