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:

Video: Is there a flash of Blenheim Palace in new trailer for Bond film Spectre?

Oxford Mail:

9:41pm Sunday 29th March 2015

BLENHEIM Palace seemingly appears in the first official trailer for the new James Bond film Spectre.

Nick Clegg launches Lib Dem election campaign in Abingdon

Oxford Mail:

1:19pm Sunday 29th March 2015

DEPUTY Prime Minister Nick Clegg visited Abingdon this afternoon to launch the Liberal Democrats' campaign for the General Election.

Video: Organisers praise dedication of OX5 runners who braved the elements

Oxford Mail:

12:58pm Sunday 29th March 2015

HUNDEREDS of people lined the gardens of Blenheim Palace on a wet and windy Sunday to cheer on the runners of today's OX5 Run.

Low power reported in Cumnor and Marcham

Oxford Mail: light bulb with power lines

12:14pm Sunday 29th March 2015

PEOPLE have been left with reduced electricity this afternoon after power problems hit Cumnor and Marcham.

Ukip opens first Oxfordshire office in Abingdon

Oxford Mail:

11:34am Sunday 29th March 2015

THE UK Independence Party (UKIP) opened its first Oxfordshire office in Abingdon this morning.

Rail delays between Didcot and Reading reported

Oxford Mail: A First Great Western High Speed Train

11:17am Sunday 29th March 2015

DELAYS of up to 25 minutes are being experienced by rail passengers travelling between Didcot Parkway and Reading this morning.

UPDATED: Man charged with 19 crimes against 10 people appears in court after slavery raids

Oxford Mail:

8:14am Saturday 28th March 2015

A 44-YEAR-OLD man has appeared in court this morning charged with 19 offences against 10 people following Thursday's anti-slavery raids.

Surgeries get £6.4m to extend buildings

Oxford Mail: NHS

9:30am Saturday 28th March 2015

THREE Oxfordshire GP surgeries have been awarded a total of £6.4m to expand.

Child rapist jailed for 18 years after string of brutal attacks

Oxford Mail:

9:30am Saturday 28th March 2015

A 62-YEAR-OLD man has been jailed for 18 years for a brutal campaign of rape that started when his victim was 10 or 11.

Oxford United leave it late on whether O'Dowda starts against Carlisle

Oxford Mail:

9:30am Saturday 28th March 2015

Michael Appleton will make a late call on his line-up, with a decision to be made on whether Callum O’Dowda is fit to start the crunch home clash with Carlisle United this afternoon.

Body in river is paedophile headteacher + video

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Saturday 28th March 2015

A PAEDOPHILE due to be sentenced for molesting young boys was the man found dead in the River Thames on Tuesday.

Bollywood’s ‘Tom Cruise’ proves a big hit at Blenheim

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Saturday 28th March 2015

MOVIE legend Tom Cruise filmed his latest Mission Impossible blockbuster at Blenheim Palace in December.

Get an appointment with the doctor via email or video link

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Saturday 28th March 2015

VIDEO and email GP appointments will allow people in Oxfordshire to see their doctor at evenings and weekends in a year-long pilot.

Customers welcomed by staff gnomes

Oxford Mail:

8:30am Saturday 28th March 2015

GNOME matter what they looked like, staff at a Frilford garden centre donned fancy dress to help raise funds for charity.

 

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