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The State of Sustainability In Tertiary Education

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The State of Sustainability In Tertiary Education

Today marks the release of the second annual report on sustainability in tertiary education by the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC), National Union of Students (NUS), University and College Union (UCU), Association of Colleges (AoC) and the College Development Network.

The report is based on survey responses from 512 staff involved in sustainability in universities and colleges. The survey set out to identify how further and higher education institutions are responding to environmental sustainability and social responsibility challenges, as well as how staff perceive their institution’s efforts. As the second year for the report we can track perceptions and trends across tertiary education.

Key findings:

· Still only a quarter of respondents overall report that sustainability is a strategic priority.

· Senior leaders such as Vice Chancellors and Principals are seen as the biggest potential for to help address sustainability yet lack of senior management commitment is seen as the second biggest barrier, after finances.

· University staff are becoming more positive in the likelihood of achieving carbon reduction targets at their institutions, with a third saying they are unlikely or very unlikely to meet targets, compared with two fifths in 2015.

· Just 16% of overall respondents rate performance on ethical investments as ‘very good’ or ‘good’ – this is the same as 2015.

· Only 1% believe that their institution is achieving 10 out of 10 in terms of their action on sustainability

· Just over half of HE sustainability staff respondents report that their institution’s graduate attributes include sustainability related attributes.

· A lack of financial and staff resources are seen as the biggest barriers to acting for sustainability with support from the highest levels seen as the most important way of overcoming these barriers. With half of respondents from FE, working in a formal/lead sustainability role, spend just 10% of their time working on sustainability.

· Concerns over availability of financial resources for the 2016-17 academic year remain with respondents more commonly reporting an expected decrease than increase in budget.

This report suggests that sector progress is mixed, so it falls on all of us to find the language and means to make sustainability a leadership and governance matter.

Iain Patton, CEO, EAUC, said: “With the Sustainable Development Goals in place and the COP21 Climate Agreement globally ratified, the sustainability odds have got much higher since last year’s survey. This report suggests that sector progress is mixed, so it falls on all of us to find the language and means to make sustainability a leadership and governance matter.”

Robbie Young, Vice President Society and Citizenship, NUS, said: “It is a real concern to see that a third of environment managers think they will miss their carbon targets. Politicians and vice chancellors urgently need to come up with a plan, and resources, or else there is no way our universities and colleges will deliver on the Paris climate agreement. This report also reinforces our concerns on ethical investments, which is something we should all be ashamed of. Our students’ money is being invested into fossil fuels against their wishes, and this new data hardens our resolve to make our Emissions Impossible campaign a success.”

Ian Munro, Regional Director, AoC, said, “This survey is very important as it enables us gain a better understanding of the perceptions of staff in colleges and universities regarding the organisational commitment to sustainability. What is clear from the results and feedback is that colleges and their staff continue to promote and champion this work and they do that to ensure that their students are not only engaged in this agenda through study, but well prepared to enter their chosen careers with an understanding of the wider of sustainability and environmental issues and how they can influence the future.”

Garry Cameron, Delivery Lead, CDN, said: “Colleges in Scotland continue to reinforce and consolidate progress in addressing energy and sustainability management through new campus construction. The CDN Estates and Facilities Network have an appropriate and relevant focus on climate change reporting necessitated by legislation. While responsibility for completion of reports is likely to sit with Estates and Facilities staff information will need to be provided by many college departments to work together to achieve a corporate goal. This reinforces the concept of collective responsibility for sustainability. CDN continues to support sustainability management in Food and Drink Manufacturing through relevant qualifications and curriculum pathways. A genuine opportunity exists to embed sustainability in all aspects of learning and teaching with the refresh of professional standards for college lecturers due 2017-18.”

The EAUC, UCU, AoC and NUS are amongst the collective voice of the world’s universities, colleges and students that are part of the Global Alliance. The Global Alliance brings a collective voice of tertiary and higher education sustainability and student networks and associations representing over 10,000 universities and colleges worldwide.

To view the full report on Sustainability in Education, please visit www.eauc.org.uk.

Environment

Want to Connect With Nature? Start by Disconnecting From Busyness

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Connect With Nature

Have you ever found yourself staring at one of your (many) devices and feeling slightly disgusted with how much time you waste on technology? If so, you aren’t alone. We all have moments like these and it’s important that we use them as motivation to change – especially if we want to be more connected with nature.

How Busyness Impacts Your Connection With Nature

Whether you realize it or not, you live an ultra connected life. Between smart phones, tablets, computers, and wearable devices, you’re never very far from some sort of technology that can connect you to the internet or put you in touch with other people. That’s just the world we live in.

While it could be argued that this sort of omnipresent connectivity is a positive thing, it’s also pretty clear that being permanently tethered to technology impacts our ability to strip away distractions and connect with nature.

When you’re always within arm’s reach of a device, you feel a sense of busyness.  Whether it’s browsing your social media feed, uploading a picture, reading the news, or responding to an email, there’s always something to do. As someone who wants to spend more time in nature, this is problematic.

4 Practical Ways to Disconnect

If you want to truly connect with nature and live a greener lifestyle, you have to be proactive about finding ways to disconnect. Here are a few practical suggestions:

1. Switch to a New Phone Plan

It’s not always practical to totally unplug from the world. Family and work responsibilities mean you can’t go off the grid and continue to fulfill your responsibilities. Having said that, there are some ways to scale back.

One suggestion is to switch to a prepaid phone plan. When you have a prepaid phone plan, you’re far less likely to spend hours and hours of your time making phone calls, sending texts, and surfing the web. It forces you to be more conscious of what you’re doing.

2. Get Rid of Social Media

Social media is one of the biggest time wasters for most people. Whether you realize it or not, it’s also a huge stressor. You’re constantly being exposed to the best snapshots of everyone else’s lives, which makes you feel like you’re missing out on something (even when you aren’t).

If you want to feel a sense of relief and free yourself up to spend more time in nature, get rid of social media. Don’t just delete the apps off your phone – actually disable your accounts. It’s a bold, yet necessary step.

3. Create Quiet Hours

If you aren’t able to get rid of social media and disable various online accounts, the next best thing you can do is establish quiet hours each day where you totally detach from technology. You should do this for a minimum of three hours per day for best results.

4. Build Community

Do you know why we’re drawn to social media and our devices? Whether consciously or subconsciously, it’s because we all want to be connected to other people. But do you know what’s better than connecting with people online? Connecting with them in person.

As you build real life, person-to-person relationships, you’ll feel less of a need to constantly have your eyes glued to a screen. Connect with other people who have an appreciation for nature and bond over your mutual interests.

Untether Your Life

If you find yourself constantly connected to a device, then this is probably a clear indicator that you aren’t living your best life. You certainly aren’t enjoying any sort of meaningful connection with nature. Now’s as good a time as any to untether your life and explore what a world free from cords, screens, and batteries is really like.

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Environment

6 Tips for an Eco-Friendly Move

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Moving can be a stressful and challenging time. No matter how many times you’ve done it in the past, the process of packing up, transporting, and unpacking isn’t very fun. It’s also not very eco-friendly. As you prepare for your next move, there are things you can do to ensure you leave less of a footprint behind.

6 Tips for a Greener Move

Because of the stress and pressure felt when moving, it’s pretty common for people to rush through the process and focus on getting it done. In fact, a lot of people take an “at all costs” approach; they’ll do whatever it takes to make the process as cheap and fast as possible. Don’t be one of those people. It doesn’t take much effort to turn a standard move into an eco-friendly move.

1. Maximize Each Trip

When moving across town, it’s imperative that you make as few trips as possible. Each trip requires more gas, more emissions, and more waste, and more time.

If you’re taking your personal vehicle, consider pulling a trailer behind it. You’d be surprised how much stuff you can fit into a small trailer. Not only will it make your move greener, but it’ll also save you a lot of time.

2. Donate Things You Don’t Want to Keep

The longer you live somewhere, the more junk you accumulate. This isn’t always obvious until you start packing for a big move. Instead of bringing all of these things with you to your next home, get rid of the stuff you don’t need! If the items are useful, donate them. If the items don’t have much value, toss them.

3. Reuse Moving Boxes

Not only are moving boxes expensive, but they’re also wasteful. If you need a bunch of cardboard boxes, consider looking around on Craigslist, asking friends, or checking the dumpsters behind stores. You can usually find a bunch of recycled boxes of all different shapes and sizes. Here are 12 places you can get them for free.

4. Get Creative With Packing

Who says you need moving boxes? You may find that it’s possible to do most of your move without all that cardboard. Things like storage containers, trashcans, filing cabinets, buckets, and dressers can all store items. Blankets and sheets can be used in lieu of bubble wrap to prevent your items from getting damaged.

5. Use Green Cleaning Supplies

Once you arrive at your new place, resist the urge to pull out a bunch of harsh chemicals to clean the place. You can do yourself (and the planet) a favor by using green cleaning supplies instead. Ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and ammonia are great to start with.

6. Forward Your Mail ASAP

Don’t delay in forwarding your mail from your previous address to your new one. Not only is it wasteful for the Postal Service to route your mail to a place where you don’t live, but the next owner is probably just going to toss your letters in the trash.

Moving Doesn’t Have to be Wasteful

Most people only move once every few years. Some people will go a decade or more without a move. As a result, the process of moving often feels strange and new. The less experience you have with it, the less likely it is that you’ll be as efficient as you should. But instead of just diving into the process blind, take some time to learn about what an eco-friendly move looks like. That way, you can leave behind the smallest footprint possible.

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