How researchers can go green

Going green can yield huge benefits to the environment, and it’s a lot easier than you think. Neva Mowl, Environmental Officer at Birmingham City University, provides some essential sustainability tips.

A woman rides a bicycle filled with sustainable produce, just one of the ways people can go green

Ready to go green?

Think about what actions you could take to be more sustainable in your personal life. Think about areas of travel, waste, purchasing, food, energy, water and biodiversity. Start with a few changes and progress from there.

Fully power down electronics or switch them off at the plug, rather than leaving them on standby. Try to use PDFs and online documents rather than books, and make notes on your computer rather than with a pen and paper.

While working from home, don’t have the thermostat too high (if you have one) and consider getting smart heating controls.

When it comes to water usage, have shorter showers (try two minutes), save water and energy by reducing washing machine use, and air dry clothes rather than using a dryer.

As well as these individual actions, think about what processes and systems you could influence. Consider how you can carry out your research in a more sustainable way.

Apps and podcasts on going green

Check out The Commitment, who work to put climate change and the natural world higher up the political agenda. They collect ‘commitments’ from the public and take them to politicians, giving those in power a mandate to act.

Making your commitment is a quick and easy way to have your voice heard and create the change you wish to see.

I would recommend apps that involve swapping or buying/selling, such as Vinted and Depop. In terms of food, Too Good to Go and Olio are great for reducing food waste, and Happy Cow is perfect for finding restaurants and cafes that sell meat-free meals.

In terms of podcasts, Outrage and Optimism talks to leading figures about climate change, The Sustainability Agenda covers relevant questions regarding going green, and Sustainability Defined discusses a new topic each episode in a fun and informal manner.

How can researchers get involved?

BCU’s Student Union has a brilliant Earth Society, which helps to make the University a more environmentally-friendly place (they are also on Instagram and are worth a follow).

We also have a Sustainable Students Teams group, where the Environmental Team share updates, news, offer sustainability tips and promote events.

We also have a separate staff Environmental Champions network, who meet three-to-four times per year and discuss environmental matters, and develop ideas and actions to reduce the University’s environmental impacts.

While the Champions network is not open to students, you could encourage your supervisor(s) to take part.

Alongside these, we are also developing a Biodiversity Action Plan for BCU, which will involve consulting with staff and students for ideas to make our campuses more biodiverse – if you’d be interested in this, contact the Environmental Team.

If you are thinking about cycling to campus, we are holding a webinar on 14 April about commuting by bike and will be setting up a Bicycle User Group site.

Looking for more sustainability tips? Download the Being Sustainable While Working and Learning From Home guide to find out more.