RNC named England’s first Eco Campus!

The members of the Eco Campus committee are gathered for a group photo outside the student hub. Tiri is holding a poster which says ‘Litter on the left’, Kaya is holding a poster which says ‘Recycling on the right’, Rhys is holding up one of the new recycling bins, and Annie Cool is holding a poster with an Eco Campus logo on it. Left to right – Emma, James Powell, Conna, Jack, Tiri, Bik Lee, Nathan, Kaya, Libby Hudson, Rhys, Barry Morris, Annie Cook and Claire Lewin

We are proud to announce that RNC (Royal National College for the Blind) has been selected by Keep Britain Tidy to be the founder institute for England’s first ever college eco campus via the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE EcoCampus)!

 

Eco schools is the world’s largest educational programme, engaging millions of children across 67 countries. In England alone there are 18,200 eco schools but these have traditionally ended at secondary school. Keep Britain Tidy have been keen to create an advanced version of eco schools, in terms of themes and projects, to engage an older audience and are trialling the idea of an FEE EcoCampus at RNC.

 

As Global Recycling Day approaches on 18 March, we are excited to now share the exciting progress of the FEE EcoCampus group, which was formed in September 2017! A lot has been happening behind the scenes since the committee was formed and, after an in depth audit of the environmental activity at RNC, the primary aim for the group will be to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and to increase recycling across the campus.

 

The new recycling bins will be rolled out across campus this week, under the ‘Recycling to the right, litter to the left’ campaign. Bik Lee, RNC’s Digital Media Officer says “We needed a catchy way for people to remember where to put their waste and recycling, as well as having signs in large print and braille above the bins, we need to make it as easy as possible for people to change their habits.”

 

18 year old Conna Jeffs, from Birmingham, is Vice Chair of the FEE EcoCampus and says “Joining the FEE EcoCampus committee has given me a much wider knowledge of how the things we do in daily life can affect the environment. It’s made me want to share this with the students and staff at College so we can all do our bit to reduce the impact our actions have on the environment. Giving guidance on what can and can’t be recycled will be vital, as well as helping people to understand why recycling is so important.”

 

RNC Biology Teacher Annie Cook, who is Chair of the FEE EcoCampus and was the driving force behind its formation says “I am really proud that this has taken off so quickly, since the committee was formed it’s really been a student-led initiative, it’s a great way for them to have a personal sense of responsibility and the empowerment that comes from the changes that they worked so hard to push for.” Lee Wray-Davis, Eco Schools Manager for England, adds “Some adults don’t think that youngsters care about the environment and after my visit to RNC I could clearly see that this wasn’t the case.”

 

As well as the students contributing to the environment, being part of the FEE EcoCampus committee is also a great experience of how to be organised and how to work as a team; giving them essential skills they can take forwards after they leave RNC. 21 year old Kaya Tveito-Duncan from Hertfordshire, is the Public Relations Officer for the FEE EcoCampus and explains “This has definitely opened a door for me; I’ve based my EPQ (Extended Project Qualification) on FEE EcoCampus and I’ve been able to talk about my work on the FEE EcoCampus committee for my personal statement for uni applications and I know that this will make me stand out!”

 

Earlier this year Kaya attended an eco schools conference in Dublin with Annie Cook and RNC Student Governor Tiri Hughes. Kaya says “I was so lucky to be given the opportunity to travel to Dublin; it was a great experience, for us to be able to share out story and we came back with some really interesting stories to take back to College!” One of the ideas, which has already been implemented at RNC, has been to reduce the use of disposable coffee cups, students and staff now receive a 10p discount off their purchases of hot drinks if they bring a reusable cup. Tiri adds “Whilst 10p doesn’t sound like a lot, it’s a positive start and provides an incentive for people to think more carefully about how their actions and choices  can affect the environment.”

RNC’s Lead Pastoral Support Officer Barry Morris says “I still can’t believe the pace at which the committee, with the commitment of other college areas, has achieved” RNC Principal Mark Fisher explains “The FEE EcoCampus is truly a cross college project and in order to secure the future of the group we are embedding sustainability into our curriculum and we are working alongside lots of internal and external groups.” One of the exciting projects at RNC is, in partnership with Herefordshire Wildlife Trust, to increase the biodiversity of the Orchard behind our main halls of residence to make the area more accessible for wildlife, and for people. Some of our students have never had the opportunity to interact with nature before so we have been visiting reptile shops and had visits from exotic animal encounters, which have included furry creatures such as skunks and meerkats to creatures people are often scared of such as spiders and snakes. Obviously we’re not expecting to have tarantulas and pythons in our Orchard in Hereford but we want our students to embrace nature and support the biodiversity we are hoping to attract at RNC!

 

RNC’s James Powell says “As a Facilities Manager it is paramount to ensure an organisation does all it can to help protect the environment in making the world a more sustainable place to live. FEE EcoCampus has helped our organisation develop a learning culture in hope that we can be more sustainable and environmentally friendly for many years to come.”

 

View the Facebook gallery of photos from FEE EcoCampus

 

If you would like to find out more about sustainability, visit the FEE website (Foundation for Environmental Education).

 

If you are interested in finding out more about studying at RNC, call our student enquiries team on 01432 376 621 or email info@rnc.ac.uk

 

Article written by Bik Lee, Digital Media Officer at RNC