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Sustainable City Week 2015 roundup

Encouraging staff and students to learn more about sustainability

by Nicola Ranson (Communications Officer)

An annual celebration of sustainability has been held at City University London with activities ranging from a buffet of edible bugs to a cycle-powered cinema. Running between Monday 19th October and Friday 23rd October, the seventh annual ‘green week’ encouraged staff and students to learn more about sustainability.

The week was set in motion with a cycle hire road show in Northampton Square that explained how to use ‘Boris Bikes’, London’s self-service bike sharing scheme. For those with their own set of wheels, a free bike doctor was on hand throughout the week to provide maintenance services and complimentary bike lights.

For the opening day of Sustainable City week, the campus eateries dropped meat from the menu and went vegetarian as part of the global Meat Free Monday campaign. Launched by Paul, Stella and Mary McCartney in 2009, the campaign aims to promote the health and environmental benefits of a less meatier diet.

The Cycle Cinema event, held on Tuesday in CityBar, saw students cycling specially adapted bikes to power the screening of cult comedy-horror film Shaun of the Dead. The Cycle Cinema used a generator to convert the energy created from students cycling into electricity, which was then used to power the cinema screen and speakers. The cinema highlighted the use of alternative sources of energy. The students themselves were powered by nachos and popcorn, along with strawberry cornettos handed out during the film in tribute to Nick Frost’s character’s partiality to the ice cream. 

Later in the week, a Crispy Critters stall in the main building served up a selection of insects for students and staff to taste. The Future of Food event offered free samples of crickets, ants and worms and explained how they could be the answer to the food demands of the world’s ever-growing population.

During the week, students were shown how to use their knowledge about sustainability gained at City when choosing a career. An event, titled Careers in Energy & Sustainability, provided the chance for students to hear from a range of panellists and take part in a Q&A session. The aim was to help them understand the range of sustainable career options available and the breadth of roles in the energy and sustainability sectors. The Starting Your Green Business event explored what it takes to start a sustainable business, with entrepreneurs from a selection of ‘green’ startups. This included alumnus Luca Amaduzzi, Founder of Cycl, a company that sells bicycle indicators. 

Sustainability transcends all areas of our lives, going beyond the usual green action like recycling and switching off lights.
Afua Yeboa-Henaku, Sustainability Co-ordinator 

Feedback was gathered on how City can make changes to improve its impact on the environment. “We collected the thoughts and feedback from more than 180 students throughout the week on potentially stopping the sale of retail bottled water on campus,” said Afua. “By stopping the sale of plastic bottles, we can encourage people to move to reusable bottles instead, reducing the amount of waste produced on site.” 

The week was rounded off with a Great City Bake Off, a baking competition with a twist; each entry had to contain at least one organic, locally sourced, free range or fair trade ingredient. Amateur bakers from across the University put their skills to the test to produce sustainable treats, with entries ranging from orange, rose and cardamom cake, to a prosecco and pear tarte tatin. The winner, with his pumpkin spiced cupcakes, was Opportunities Co-ordinator at the Students’ Union, Miles Battye. Miles used seasonal British pumpkins, sustainably farmed fair trade cocoa and free range eggs to bake his cakes. He says taking part in the competition will make him look closer at the food products he buys. He said: 

For a long time I have been buying free range eggs and chicken and steered away from unethical foods. Thanks to the work of City’s Sustainability team and the Green Dragon’s projects, I have recently got a lot better at looking for the fair trade logos on products, as well as buying responsibly farmed foods such as fish, chocolate and coffee. I also make a note of buying fruit and vegetables when they’re in season to prevent food waste. They might be little things but I believe they are important.
Miles Battye, Winner of the Great City Bake Off 

Afua Yeboa-Henaku is the Sustainability Co-ordinator at City and helped to organised the week’s events. It was hoped that the key message people would take away is that sustainability can be fun says Afua. “Sustainability transcends all areas of our lives, going beyond the usual green action like recycling and switching off lights. The Great City Bake Off and the Meat Free Monday project for example, show how easy it is to make small changes to our diets without compromising on the taste and quality of the food.”

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City, University of London is an independent member institution of the University of London. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University of London consists of 18 independent member institutions with outstanding global reputations and several prestigious central academic bodies and activities.