Green Impact Deadline/Earth Day

Today is the day all branches of the Libraries Environmental Action Force team must submit the Green Impact workbooks we have so diligently been working on over the past few months.

We have accomplished over 60 actions, ranging in difficulty from using environmentally friendly email footers (which you can find out more about from our previous blog post) to calculating the life cost of our office equipment. Did you know that over the lifecycle of a typical appliance, the total running costs are usually 15% procurement cost, 75% energy costs and 10% maintenance costs? Which means it can work out cheaper to invest more money when buying an item to save more in energy costs later on.

None of this would have been possible without the support provided by all of you. You have all been contributing to making the LRCs greener, be it turning off your computers when not in use, using the recycling bins or tucking in to a Fairtrade breakfast. So for all of your efforts, we would just like to say:

beeld_mieren_-thank_you

But it doesn’t end there. Today is also Earth Day, an annual worldwide event that celebrates building a sustainable environment, addressing climate change and protecting the Earth for future generations. Long term change takes more than just a single day, but today is a start. So let’s start now and let’s not stop.

 

There are a few simple things we can all do to play our part:

Finally start carrying a bag for life. It’s not only annoying when you forget and have to pay 5p for the privilege, but it also saves single use bags becoming litter in landfill taking centuries to break down.

Go veggie (or cut down your meat consumption). Vital ecosystems around the world are destroyed to make space for grazing cattle. It may be difficult, but even slightly reducing the amount of meat we eat will have dramatic effects. It might even make you feel better, too.

-Get a bike. Some of the major problems facing the Western world are pollution, climate change and obesity. This could all be lessened if we all start cycling a bit more.

-Start thinking more about our carbon footprints. Making small changes like switching off lights or appliances and insulating our homes can all help reduce the impact we have on the planet.

-Reusing plastic bottles. Plastic bottles are the new plastic bags. They’re everywhere, very rarely recycled, and they don’t biodegrade. Buying a re-useable bottle and filling it from the tap will not only save you money, it’ll help save the environment.

 

Google have been celebrating Earth Day annually via their Doodles. This year a range of Doodles have been designed by artist Sophie Diao. The one you get is random, so keep refreshing your page to see them all. Last year, the Doodle was a quiz to find out which animal you are. You can still find out via this link.

 

Let’s keep up the good work everyone!

 

 

Picture Credit: Thank you ants. Available at: http://bit.ly/1NFcGmy

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New Travel Rota at NC

Footprints-on-snow-005

As part of Green Impact, we’ve been trying to identify the key ways in which we in library services can cut down our carbon footprint. We think one thing which is particularly pertinent to LLS is the way we travel between sites. All of us spend some time at Roevale each week, and many of us have to attend meetings at Penrhyn Road and Knights Park on a regular basis. This means that, as a team, we spend a lot of time ‘on the road’. We’d like to get a clearer picture of how everyone is travelling between sites, so that we can start to think about ways of making our journeys more eco-friendly. So, over the next few months, we’d like you to record each time you travel from one site to another, and how you did it. This is something they’ve been trying at Knights Park, and we’re hoping it will make us all a little more conscious of how we travel.

There  is a chart on the notice board in the common room – just find your name and fill it in as you go!

Buddy Boiling

Fancy saving the planet AND enjoying a delicious cup of tea? Then get on board with our new ‘buddy boiling’ system! The idea is that we cut down on the energy used to boil the kettle by making sure we remember to ask others if they fancy a cuppa when we’re making one for ourselves, ultimately cutting down the number of times the kettle is boiled each  day. We’re also trying to remember to only boil as much water as we need, and to keep track of how often the kettle is being used by recording each time we use it on the nearby chart, which looks like this:

Save water at Roevale

 

Help us cut down our energy  and water consumption!

 

Energy Saving Ideas

Saving energy is an important part of sustainability. Wasting energy can have a negative impact on the environment, producing unnecessary CO2 emissions, and waste resources for the next generation.

 

I am sure we all want to save energy, but it can be hard to know where to even start. This is why we have made a list of six easy methods of saving energy that you can do try today:

 

  1. Turn off equipment: It may sound obvious, but turning off equipment when it isn’t being used is a good way to prevent unnecessary waste. Think about the amount of time a computer, television or even lights are left on when they are not being used.

 

  1. Find out about energy saving settings: A lot of electronic devices have power saving settings. This may involve reducing the screen brightness or putting the device into an automatic standby or even shut it down when not in use. Look into the power saving settings of the devices around you and see what you can do.

 

  1. Think of alternative methods: Before you use an appliance, think if there’s something else you can use instead, or if there is a more efficient way to use it. For example, instead of using running water to do the washing up, fill up a bowl – or do one full dishwasher load every day, instead of washing everything by hand or only filling the dishwasher half way.

 

  1. Turn off the heating: If it is warm outside, or if you have something warm to wear, consider turning off the heating. Even turning the heating down marginally will help save some energy and a little bit of money too.

 

  1. Use more energy efficient equipment: I know what you’re probably thinking, replacing equipment is expensive. While this is true, we are not suggesting you change all the appliances in your home or work over night. Instead, start by making a few simple changes – for example, using LED lights instead of filament bulbs is already going a good distance to achieving energy efficiency.

 

  1. Monitor: Having an idea of how much energy you are using helps to put things into perspective. By using smart monitoring devices you can check and manage your energy usage. Knowing how much energy you are using can help you to limit the amount you use, or set goals to reduce your energy usage. Contact your energy supplier or look on their website to see what energy monitoring they offer.

 

Our University has drawn up an Energy Policy, with the goal of cutting CO2 emissions from the 2006-2007 figure by 35% by the end of the 2020/21 academic year. Every bit of energy we save can help achieve this goal and contribute towards saving energy for the generations to come.

 

Please visit the Energy Saving Trust’s website for further information.

 

 

Picture Credit: Saving Energy. Available at: http://bit.ly/1WACsj4

Making your PC more energy efficient

Last year, one of our Green Impact downfalls was leaving our computers switched on overnight. Simply turning PCs off at the end of the day will save enough CO2 to fill a double decker bus.

But what about during the day? A lot of us leave our workstations for long periods of time, leaving our PCs on. This wastes energy and money. It can cost as much as £70 a year just to run one computer!

 

With a majority of us “hot desking” sharing computers throughout the day, it can be difficult to remember to shut down the computer after use as we can’t be sure when the next user will need to log in. It is best practice to go on the assumption that it could be hours before the computer will be used again, and shut it down.

 

Things to remember:

(1) It doesn’t take any extra electricity to start up a computer; you might just have to wait a few extra seconds for the computer to start up after a shut down.

(2) Shutting down obviously saves more electricity than energy-saving mode, but if you will be returning to the same computer a good compromise is to use sleep mode when you’re not using it. This does not mean you will have to turn it on again when you come to use it. It will simply have a locked screen, so all you will have to do is type in your password, and the desktop will instantly open up exactly as you left it.

(3) Energy-saving mode does save power. That’s what it’s for.

(4) Please remember to turn your PC off at the end of the day.

 

Instructions for making your computer more energy efficient can be found here.

 

 

Picture Credit: Switch Off Reminder. Available at: http://bit.ly/1RZn5LQ

Reasons to Love your Dishwasher

Did you know that, most of the time, its actually greener to use a dishwasher than to wash up by hand?

Research published by the University of Bon has shown that dishwashers use less energy, less water and less soap than washing by hand, are more hygienic, and – crucially! – save us time and energy.

Here are some tips to help you maximise your dishwasher’s green impact:dishwasher

  • Be sure to scrape your plates thoroughly before you put them in
  • Only run the dishwasher when its full
  • Make sure you use the economy setting where possible
  • Try to run your dishwasher at night – that way you are using the grid at a time of low demand, so the dirtiest and least efficient power stations aren’t running, which means each unit of power will have a slightly lower carbon footprint.

At the Nightingale Centre, our dishwasher is run every night. If we also wash by hand, we are only adding to the amount of water we use. So, wherever possible, please put your dirty plates, mugs and cutlery in the dishwasher instead of washing them by hand. that way you can sit back, relax, and still be saving the planet.

 

Coming in May 2016… The KH/RV Vegan Bake Off!

cake  In May we’ll be bringing in our finest vegan bakes (and hoping you’ll bring some too!) and asking you to make a small donation to have a taste, and vote on your favourite, all in the name of sweet (in all senses) charity. But what we’d like to know, is what charity you would like to support? All suggestions would be greatly received – you can leave a comment here, email Faye at f.keegan@kingston.ac.uk, or simply write your suggestion up on the Nightingale Centre staff room whiteboard.cookies

In case you fancy getting some practice in, or just want some inspiration, here are some recipes for vegan Butterscotch Chocolate Chip Blondies, Coffee Cacao Cake, and Moist Chocolate Fudge Cake.

Happy baking, and thanks for your help!more cake

By-products of modern life that are burying us in garbage

I recently stumbled upon a humorous article online that was too good not to share. Although amusing, it highlights the ways improvements in our technology have been causing environmental problems elsewhere. The original article can be found here, however the language used probably isn’t suitable for the work place. Hence my clean edit of the article below:


 

At the turn of the 20th century, cities across the world were quite literally being buried in horse poop. Then along came a saviour in the form of the automobile, but that prophet soon proved false when it ever so slowly suffocated us all with its petroleum-induced flatulence. It seems that the never-ending cycle of human progress has a nasty side effect of constantly threatening to bury us all under a mountain of rubbish, and it’s certainly not over yet …

 

#4. Your Old Cellphone Is Murdering the Third World

Americans replace their phones every 18 months. Europeans upgrade annually. And neither of them holds a candle to Japan where it takes just nine months for a person to deem their handheld supercomputer so primitive that it may as well have a cord and a crank start. Similar stats exist for laptops and tablets, which is great news for the companies justifying our buying of shinier ones to play the exact same game of Candy Crush. But you know who doesn’t think its great news? Mother Nature.

In 2014, the number of cellphones in use exceeded the number of people on Earth, which is … weird, right?

If it were just a question of having to wade through a sea of discarded Motorola Razrs to get to work, that would be one thing, but the physical size of these gadgets is dwarfed by the density of the harmful components they contain. Contrary to popular belief, these magical little boxes don’t actually run on fairy dust; a toxic metal cocktail fuels all that Snapchatting and Instagramming. And when old electronics aren’t properly recycled, they tend to leak those hazardous guts into our soil and water. In China, improper disposal of handheld electronics has already tainted countless tons of rice with cadmium, chronic exposure to which causes kidney, liver, and lung failure. And cancer. And osteoporosis. The list goes on, and sadly not one item on it is a superpower.

The impact of trashing a device doesn’t stop at pollution, because as soon as we commit those scarce metals to the landfill, more will have to be mined in order to make new iPhones — and the mining process for one of the rarest elements found in almost every electronic device has created a real-life sequel to Blood Diamond. Apparently, mining African rain forests for rare metals to produce high-margin consumer electronics with a life cycle of less than a year and a half isn’t a sustainable model. Who knew, right?

 

#3. Face Wash Microbeads Are Becoming Toxic Sand

You know those microbeads in your face wash? Those tiny dots that the cosmetics companies say agitate the dermoplexus to stimulate maximum elastorque or whatever? Yeah, those things are pretty great. Probably. We don’t know — We only know that microbeads are made of plain old plastic, and they wreak absolute havoc on marine life.

Your drain is just the beginning of a very long journey for those tiny spheres of petroleum byproduct. From there, they find their way to your local water treatment plant and pass right through it (remember: microbeads), eventually settling in a lake or an ocean, where they leech pollutants from the water. In 2012, a research group found that the Great Lakes were absolutely filthy with the things, containing up to 1.7 million tiny plastic bits per square mile.

“But wait,” you say, “isn’t leeching pollutants a good thing?” Well, it might be, if we could somehow retrieve all the beads and dispose of them, but that’s simply inconceivable, seeing as how these things are so small, they’re practically invisible (why do you keep forgetting? Microbeads). So once they’re full of chemicals, they settle on the bottom and act all fish-egg-like, enticing marine animals to eat them.

So the chemicals end up in the beads, the beads end up in whatever eats them, and whatever eats them basically just lives with that mistake until their bodies can rectify that problem and eject the intruders. Except it’s not over for the critters as quickly as you would hope: A study found that it takes mussels 48 days to expel the microplastics.

It’s gotten so bad that even the folks profiting from microbeads have realized the problem: Some of the bigger manufacturers have vowed to discontinue the use of microplastics by 2017. So you’d better stock up now, womenfolk and beautiful men: After 2017, who the hell knows what will agitate your dermoplexus? Robots, probably. With their uncaring claws.

 

#2. New TVs Are Creating a Lead TV Tube Overflow

Televisions used to be like kooky friends: everyone had one. But then we decided, hey, why stop at one? There’s a TV in the bedroom. And in the kitchen. And why shouldn’t we be able to see The Walking Dead whilst in the tub?

So there we all were: 20 TVs bathing us from all sides in their healthy, vitamin-D providing cathode glow, only to find that cathodes are suddenly outdated. LEDs, LCDs, plasmas, 3D, 4K — we burned through the kid’s college fund just trying to keep up with TV obsolescence. And all those old ones have to go somewhere.

Between 1980 and 2008, over 700 million tube TVs were sold in the U.S. alone. While new versions of these old-fashioned TVs were still being manufactured, many firms did a tidy business recycling and reselling the lead glass that went into them. Of course, now that the world has moved on to thinner screens, the market for toxic glass has dried right up, and recycling companies are left holding a poison-laced hot potato with no way to recoup the costs associated with detoxifying it. We’re talking stories-high mountains of lead that we don’t really know what to do with. The landfill isn’t an option anymore — there’s only so much lead you can shove into the ground before a nature spirit manifests to fight your bulldozer, and then you’ve got to deal with the Captain Planet kids all up in your grill. It’s a whole thing.

But once we figure out this whole tube business, that will be the end of it, right? Of course not! Because the LCDs most consumers replaced their tube TVs with are perfect examples of how to build something cheaply yet outrageously toxic and nigh impossible to recycle. So, while we staved off burial under a pile of not so Smart TV sets by recycling their old tubes into new TVs for decades, there won’t be any such grace period with LCDs — once an LCD screen gives up the ghost, you’re left with a big rectangle of toxic garbage. But still — look how thin it is!

 

#1. Flushable Wet Wipes Are Causing Poop Geysers

So the idea of flushable wet wipes is pretty sweet. But the problem is the very real possibility that they will drown the world in sewage. It almost happened before; London 2013 (here in Kingston-upon Thames to be precise). When residents reported that they could not flush their toilets, the intrepid sewage-spelunkers of London went underground to investigate. And guess what they found? The kind of terror that your nightmares just aren’t imaginative enough to generate, a bus-sized 15-ton wad of congealed sewer fat held together by flushable wipes and the spirit of community.

The aptly named “Fatberg” is just one of many disgusting incidents caused by the current popularity of disposable wipes. They’re also causing sewers to overflow into rivers, meaning that you could wind up swimming in the very material you so diligently cleaned off. As a result, sanitation companies have been forced to spend millions to implement new machinery that can grind the wipes down into something that’s actually … well, flushable.

 

 

Original article by: (Original article by Eric Yosomono, J. Wisniewski, Ivan Farkas, Hillery Alley March 21, 2014)

Picture Credit: Kingston Fatberg. Available at: http://bit.ly/1St4siA

Easy ways to reduce fuel costs


Until the day household waste can be converted into useable fuel, or at least until electric cars become more affordable, cutting down your fuel usage whilst driving can help lower carbon emissions and will save you money too. Here are six helpful tips on how to make the most of your fuel:

 

  1. Drive slower: It may seem obvious, but driving at a lower speed reduces the amount of fuel your car uses. Making sure you keep to the speed limit isn’t just safer for you, but also for the environment.
  2. Plan your journeys: Doing lots of small journeys is more wasteful than combining those trips into one. If you plan your journeys for the day, you can find the shortest distance to travel and reduce your chances of getting lost. Less starting and stopping, particularly in colder weather and making as few trips as possible is a good way to cut fuel consumption.
  3. Maintenance: If your car isn’t well maintained, it’ll be costing you more fuel than necessary. It is important to get your car properly serviced regularly to ensure it is running efficiently, and that it is safe. However, by simply checking the oil and ensuring the tires are properly inflated every so often, you would already saving some fuel.
  4. Streamline: By making your car lighter and reducing wind resistance, you can cut down on unnecessary fuel costs. A few simple changes, like removing unused luggage from the boot, or taking off the roof rack when not in use will help streamline your vehicle and help it use less fuel to run.
  5. Only start the car when you need to: If the car is running for long periods of time and not moving, you are certainly wasting fuel. Try not to have your car running for long periods of time before or after a journey. Wait until you are ready to leave before starting the engine.
  6. Consider alternative forms of travel: As we have mentioned previously, there are many ways to travel that are less damaging to the environment. Walking, cycling and public transport are all viable ways to get to where you need to go and all cost less fuel. For more information on alternative forms of travel, please read our previous blog post on the subject.

For more information about fuel efficiency, the Energy Saving Trust and the AA have more useful tips on their websites.

 

Picture Credit: Fuel Efficiency. Available at: http://bit.ly/1N2pEQh