Much like the sun on the morning of Monday 2nd March, faces within the crowd beamed as they awaited the opening of ‘Portland Zero’, a zero waste shop in the University of Nottingham’s Students’ Union Building.
Such an unveiling kicks of the sustainability week here at the University, the third annual sustainability week at the Students’ Union. This year however, is “bigger and brighter than ever” with around 65 events happening throughout the week. Each event will cover all aspects of the sustainable development goals and not just environmental sustainability.
“The way that we see sustainability at the Students’ Union is about building a better world forever, for everyone” – Lee Taylor
The shop shows the Students’ Union to be putting “our money where our mouth is” as Environmental and Social Justice Officer Lee Taylor noted. Since declaring a climate emergency last November at the Union Council, Lee has led the Union in working tirelessly on a sustainability strategy and pathway for the future. Portland Zero is arguably the most visible of the Students’ Union’s strands of work. It has been developed in collaboration with the University, part funded by the ‘WasteNott’ fund and ‘Latte levy’. So, for every 20p spent on a disposable cup, that money has been saved specially for projects like this. This is a project for the future. Much of the profits from the shop will also be put back into the Students’ union for future sustainability projects.
The shop follows the University being ranked fourth in the world for University sustainability. This recognised the universities’ efforts towards ‘campus sustainability and environment friendly University management’. As such, the university recognises and works with the UN Sustainability Development goals and follows lead in recognising and declaring a climate emergency. Over the last 10 years, carbon emissions at the University have gone down by a third and research (such as ‘green chemicals’) is well underway.
Present at the Portland Zero’s opening was Professor John Atherton, Chair of the Environmental Sustainability committee at the University. In recognising the great achievements so far from the University, he also noted, “we can do more”. For example, working on “more teaching and learning… environment sustainability in both education and research”. Portland Zero does however represent a beacon of hope for a more sustainable future here at the University.
For more information on the events and activities happening across campuses during Sustainability Week, see here.
Featured image courtesy of Mia Haffety.