Growing our Green Credentials
In March 2018, The Royal National College for the Blind (RNC) was proud to announce that it had been selected by Keep Britain Tidy to be the founder institute for England’s first ever college Eco Campus. The initiative is run by the College’s Eco Committee and again this year, has been extremely busy. Here, Teacher in Charge, Annie Cook, gives an update on progress.
Over the last year the focus for the Eco Committee has been reducing the amount of single use plastics from the Bistro and Coffee Pod.
In September, with help from the Erasmus project, we purchased reusable mugs – enough for every student and staff member. These were offered to staff and students who made donations for personalising the cups by the team in the working office. More than 60% of staff and students have now got their own reusable cup, with their name in print and Braille.
The Eco Committee worked with Jude from Baxter Storey (who supply the College’s catering) to implement a 10p reduction in the price of a drink for everyone using a reusable mug. Now reusable mugs are being used at the Coffee Pod regularly and Jude was able to give us statistics regarding the number of bring your own cups showing how many were used since we made the change.
The Eco Committee also implemented plastic bottle reduction. It has been noted over the last couple of years by various members of the Eco Committee and Student Representative Group (SRG) that the number of plastic bottles in the Bistro was unsustainable and we finally got agreement to do a trial of having jugs of water available with plastic beakers in the Bistro.
The trial began in January 2020 and feedback from the SRG, tutor groups and Eco Committee has been positive. Unfortunately, due to Covid-19 we were unable to send out the survey to students to gather their thoughts about it, but our hope is that this will continue once it is deemed safe to do so.
The Eco Committee has been working with the Herefordshire Community Recycling effort to collect and recycle crisp packets. This has been very successful with over 4kg of packets being collected from students and staff. These have been sent to Walkers for recycling. Unfortunately, our original plan to send them in to raise funds for RNC was scuppered by Walkers who decided that each area could only collect for one fund and they would only accept 10kg lots. The Eco Committee decided that it was better to recycle them anyway, so our collections have gone in with the Herefordshire Community Recycling group, which are raising money for ‘Count for Kicks’. Part of the Eco Campus scheme is to work with the community, which is shown very nicely here. We have also begun collecting cables, CDs, Glasses and bottle tops.
Outdoors, Biodiversity and Wellbeing
Another theme the Eco Committee is working on is Outdoors, Biodiversity and Wellbeing.
There were lots of ideas discussed which the committee wanted to work on. One was to have bird boxes for swifts put up on thePoint4 building or halls of residence (as they have to be high up).
Paul Sockett took on the challenge along with work experience students, aided and abetted by the Aspire team. Five swift boxes have been completed and they are painted and ready to be put in place.
They were funded by a cake sale and a kind donation. Sadly, due to Covid 19 they will have to wait until next season to be positioned.
Another idea which was on our ‘wish list’ was an idea that came from an EPQ student. It is to have a wellbeing path through the grounds at the back of the College. We have lists of native plants which are scented and attract wildlife which we would like to line the paths. We have ideas of purchasing benches (made from the bottle tops we are collecting) where students can sit and enjoy the outdoors and perhaps even an outdoor classroom. We will keep you informed of how this goes.
Finally, alongside the Eco Committee, a learning and leisure group called Eco/Wildlife has been running all year. We have visited a hedgehog rescue centre, Hollycroft Hedgehogs, and been for nature walks looking at tree identification by touch and bird identification by sound. The group also helped with Eco surveys and collecting and sorting crisp packets. The cake sale set up and run by this group on 7 February raised £40 towards the swift boxes.
As you will have read, it’s been a hugely productive year for the respective groups and it’s a shame that momentum was lost due to recent events. However, I’m sure once campus life resumes, the Eco Committee and Eco/Wildlife Group will be up and running again with renewed energy and enthusiasm.
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