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What happened at Green Mary Week 2015

Wednesday 25 February 2015

From Monday 9 – 13 February QMUL’s Mile End campus became a hub for environmental activities during Green Mary Week 2015. Students across QMUL learnt about what the University is currently doing to ensure its environmental sustainability and found about how they could act in more sustainable ways in their daily life. In total QMUL’s Sustainability team and our student volunteers spoke to over 3,000 staff and students about environmental sustainability through the week.

Perhaps the most overwhelming success of the week was the QMSU Foodbank Volunteering group’s foodbank donation competition. The group asked people from across QMUL to sign up teams and compete to collect the greatest amount of items for local Bow Foodbank. From Friday afternoon suitcases of food started arriving, and just kept coming - in total 1059 items were donated to the local foodbank.

For more information on Green Mary Week, have a look at the day-by-day account below, check out the blog pieces from out student participants on the QMUL Sustainability blog, or have a look at QMUL Sustainability’s Facebook page for pictures and information on future events.

Meat Free Monday

Meat Free Monday

Meat Free Monday was awash with free nibbles, as QMUL promoted vegetarian and vegan cooking alongside a number of sustainable suppliers stalls outside the Curve. Love Food Hate Waste ran a cooking demonstration, promoting low waste cooking and signing up students to their free cooking workshop which ran at the end of the week. In addition, one of QMUL’s sustainable vegetable suppliers, Anglia Produce Ltd, gave out some of their delicious leek and potato soup cooked from vegetables sourced from within 50 miles of the University. Meat lovers weren’t left out of the picture completely, with HS Linwood and Sons and British Premium Meats giving out tasters of their MSC certified sea food and Red Tractor Standard meats.

QMUL and the Students’ Union’s restaurants and cafeterias also got involved, with delicious meat free dishes available at the Curve, Mucci’s, Drapers, The Griff Inn, the Village Shop and Infusion. QMSU offered a generous 20 per cent of vegan and vegetarian dishes to encourage students to try them, whilst customers at Mucci’s got a free bottle of water if they went for a meat free option. Many of QMUL’s catering suppliers and the QMUL Catering team also donated generously to the week’s foodbank collections, and their sandwiches, pastries, meat and other donations were given out to homeless shelters in the South East of England.

Travel Light Tuesday

Tuesday focused on encouraging sustainable travel at QMUL, with a huge focus on getting more students and staff cycling into the university. Cyclists were rewarded generously with a free bottle of water when they showed their cycle helmet in the Village Shop and Infusion, and could get a free muffin when they bought a drink in Starbucks. In Library Square London Cycling Campaign encouraged nervous cyclists to try out their sample bikes and promoted their win a bike competition. We had two expert bike mechanics on campus fixing worn out cycles for free, and in total almost 60 QMUL cyclists got their bikes maintained. For cyclists and non-cyclists alike there was also the opportunity to pedal for extremely popular free smoothies on the blender bike at Bikeworks’ stall. Bikeworks were promoting their free cycle safety training, available to students and staff who live or work in Tower Hamlets.

Waste Not Wednesday

Waste Not Wednesday

QMUL Sustainability and the Green Mary Week volunteers descended on Library Square at 11am on Wednesday to wreak havoc in the form of a free stationery giveaway and swap shop. Since November we’ve been raiding offices, skips and store cupboards all over QMUL and Mile End Hospital to gather unwanted stationery from staff in order to prevent it being thrown out and sent to landfill. In total over £1,600 worth of items were amassed and stored in the basement of Queens’ Building, and then transported into the middle of Library Square and given away for free. It took just two hours to get rid of everything, including about 150 lever arch files, 360 packs of folder dividers, and over 500 plastic punch pockets to the 500 students who visited the stall. The event had huge impact, promoting reuse to students and staff at QMUL and preventing a huge amount of waste from reaching landfill.

Turn it Off Thursday

Thursday saw a duel whammy of events, with an interactive environmental arcade taking place in QMSU’s The Hub, and the Environmental Careers Speed Meet running in the evening. The earlier event provided a fun way for students to learn about the realities of energy and water consumption. The Eco-Drive simulator was the most popular attraction, with students learning how to reduce their fuel consumption per kilometre through efficient driving techniques. Our most efficient student driver of the day won a £20 One4All voucher. Other attractions included the Carbon Gym, Energy Bike and Water Explorers game where students could row, pedal and quiz their way to lower energy and water consumption.

The Environmental Careers Speed Meet ran from 1-6pm and was attended by almost 30 students from degree subjects as diverse as Geography, Engineering, Psychology, Law and Aquatic Ecology. The event, loosely modelled on speed dating, saw professionals from the environmental sector circulate amongst tables of students who quizzed them about their jobs and companies. Speakers attended from Veolia, Jacobs, Briar Associates, Global Action Plan, Argyl Environmental Limited, Green Roof Consultancy, and Heathrow Sustainability. If you’re looking to attend similar events in the future, or if you want to learn about the skills necessary to become employed in the environmental sector, visit the QMUL Careers website or make an appointment with a careers consultant.

Make A Difference Friday - QM Hockey team and their winning donations

Make a Difference Friday

Making a difference to our local environment and community was QMUL and QMSU’s aim on Friday 13 February. Outside the Curve there were a number of stalls promoting volunteering opportunities and sustainable projects on campus and in the local community. Represented were QMSU Volunteering, the Foodbank volunteering group, Foodcycle, Karma Koffee; the Pro Bono society, Tower Hamlets Clean and Green, the QM Young Greens, Green Mary, and Veolia Tower Hamlets, all alongside a free bike mechanic and smoothie bike.

In spite of the drizzle over 20 QMUL students and staff headed off to Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park for conservation volunteering sessions, where they worked to clear branches from tree canopies and the woodland floor in order to increase floral biodiversity this spring. Volunteers hugely enjoyed the chance to make an impact at our largest local nature reserve, and all looked fantastic in their bright yellow hard hats!

Perhaps the most overwhelming success of the week was the QMSU Foodbank Volunteering group’s foodbank donation competition. The group asked people from across QMUL to sign up teams and compete to collect the greatest amount of items for local Bow foodbank. From 1pm on Friday afternoon suitcases of food started arriving, and just kept coming- in total 1059 items were donated to the local foodbank. Hazel and Shobana (Presidents of the Bow Foodbank Volunteering Group) said “We are so grateful for all of the food donated and the Foodbank have asked us to pass on their thanks too, it is all such a huge help and makes a massive difference. Considering that every week around 500 items are distributed to those in the local area who are struggling, these donations will go a long way in helping them. We are overwhelmed by all of your generosity and are so glad you all got involved.”

The results are:

  1. First place - QM HOCKEY (384 donations)
  2. Second place - QM ANGELS (363 donations)
  3. Third place - IT SERVICES (157 donations)
  4. Fourth place - QM BOAT TEAM (65 donations)

You can still get involved!

If you missed Green Mary week but want to get involved in sustainability events and activities at QMUL you still can! We’re re-launching the Green Mary student society this March, and also have a number of upcoming volunteering initiatives that will help to develop you CV. Just email sustainability@qmul.ac.uk to register your interest, or visit our website and like our Facebook page to find out more.

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