Author Archives: cccusustainability

About cccusustainability

I'm the Sustainability Engagement Officer at Canterbury Christ Church University - and this blog is run by our amazing Student Green Office student staff members, with guest posts by volunteers.

Climate and it’s relevance to this election

With the snap election fast approaching, the UK is in a midst of debate. This election is different as it’s a snap election, and due to the implications of Brexit, it’s dividing the nation more than ever. With other parties loosing out and stressing to their voters to either vote Conservative or Labour, we need to be sure on why the environment should be an important factor of any election.

By the time the next election rolls around in 2022, the climate could have risen by 1.5C. This is the level that it was agreed not to be reached at the Paris Summit in 2015. If we keep burning coal, gas and oil at the rates we are currently, we would have surpassed this temperature by this time.

Naturally, the biggest issue here is that it can be changed. It is not inevitable. If we become more hands on and increase our efforts of lowering emissions, the effects will pay off immediately. With parties vowing to end fracking and fight for a greener nation, we need to ensure our votes are carefully thought out. If climate is at the top of your personal manifesto, then listen up.

It is so important that we, as young people, vote for who has the best manifesto. Avoid voting for a party purely because you do not want someone from the opposing party to get a seat. This is how individuals end up regretting their decisions, as well as things going horribly wrong. Over a million young people are not on the electoral roll, and our vote makes a huge difference.

Register to vote at: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

Photo Credit: David Bagnall/Alamy, April 2014

By Amanda Elliott, Communications Officer

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3 reasons why student wellbeing is important

University can be a scary place. You’re living on your own for the first time, the work can be stressful and sometimes it can become a bit much. As a third year student, there are countless occasions in which I have just wanted to be at home with my parents, or wanted to stop having so much work. It is completely normal.

The key to ensuring that you don’t sink under the stress, is to talk about it, and have your distractions. With so much to do in Canterbury, there is always something you can do to take your mind off things. The beautiful coffee shops, activity days at places like Escape Kent, the beaches nearby, places to go out drinking – the list goes on. Your wellbeing is the most important thing, here are five reasons why:

1. To keep on top of your university work

As hard as it can be, the biggest goal of coming to university is getting your degree. The incredible amount of support at CCCU for students that are struggling is incredible, so if you are struggling, talk to your personal tutor. They will be able to give you encouragement as well as any assistance you might need.

2. To make sure you get the most out of university

As well as achieving a degree, university has so many more functions. You shape life-long friendships, make incredible memories, amazing job experience and usually come out as a much different person than when you first came in. It is so important that university is an amazing experience for everyone who goes, so do your very best to get the most out of it.

3. So people can learn from you

Social media, being the massive influence that it is these days, if you’re at university, you could be showing prospective students who you have on your friends list what university is all about. If you’re happy and healthy, people will learn from you.

Health and wellbeing is becoming more and more important and recognised. At Canterbury Christ Church University, there is so much help on hand if you need it. You are never alone. The Student Wellbeing Fayre is on 21st April 2017.

#StressLess

By Amanda Elliott, Communications Officer 

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Student Wellbeing Fayre

On April 21st, the Student’s Union will be holding the Student Wellbeing Fayre. There will be puppies, stalls by charities and us at Sustainability.

The purpose of the student wellbeing fayre is to ensure the students at Canterbury Christ Church University are happy and healthy, and it works as part of the #StressLess campaign. During these busy times of exams and final assignments, it’s so important that we keep ourselves well, and not too overrun. It is okay to take a break, it is okay to feel stressed. There are thousands of students who are going through the same thing as you, and you are never alone.

The Student Green Office’s presence at the fayre will include photo competitions, opportunities to become better informed, games revolved around wellbeing, as well as information about the upcoming treasure trail, and much much more.

We saw it fitting to ensure our presence at the Student Wellbeing Fayre, as students ourselves, we understand the importance of keeping on top of things and the entire notion of #StressLess.

The fayre will be an excellent opportunity to get away for a couple of hours, be wowed by some gorgeous puppies, meet some new people, and generally just take your mind off your studies for a little while.

The fayre is taking place in the library (Augustine House) from 10:30 till 18:00 on 21st April 2017. We hope to see you there!

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Egg-cellent ways to keep your Easter sustainable

With Easter approaching, the excitement for the copious amounts of chocolate and hot cross buns is becoming more apparent. Like any holiday, the selection of goodies that comes with it has the ability to not be sustainable.

Here are 5 tips to keep your Easter holiday sustainable:

1. Recycle your wrappers

All aluminium foil wrappers are recyclable and quite a wide variety of people don’t know about this! Make sure that when adding this to your recycling, you scrunch it up into a big collective ball. Small bits of foil don’t get taken by the recycling, make it worth it!

2. Fair Trade Chocolate

Buying Fair Trade and palm-oil free chocolate is not only delicious chocolate that tastes no different to anything else, you are making a world difference by improving the standards for farmers and their families in the countries in which chocolate is being produced. The lack of palm-oil also stops our forests from being cut down. This is so important!

3. Organic and local meal ingredients

A lot of people will join their families in a roast dinner on Easter Sunday, I know I will. When shopping for the ingredients for this meal, try your very best to buy local produce from your butchers and green grocers. It makes an incredible difference, and it’s much better for you as well.

4. Sustainable Easter baskets and painted eggs

One of the most fun times to be sustainable is with crafts. Painting eggs but using natural dyes is incredibly sustainable, as well as creating your baskets out of recycled materials, even your own Easter materials!

5. As little packaging as possible

A holiday means tonnes of wrapping paper, gift bags, plastic plates, the list goes on and on. Using recyclable materials for gifts is a solution, as well as keeping it plain and simple.

From all of us at Sustainability, we wish you a wonderful Easter.

Photo credit: Peter Biela 

By Amanda Elliott, Communications Officer

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The government is forgetting about climate change

It is no doubt that the thing everybody in the UK is talking about this week is Brexit. Article 50 has been triggered, and the process is beginning. Whether we like it or not, it’s happening, and unfortunately, that’s that.

All of the merriment surrounding this lead me to ask myself; how will Brexit effect the environment? Upon research, I found that it will, quite considerably too.

The letter in which triggers Brexit does not mention the word climate once. Not. Once. It was also announced that there would be no research into the effects of Brexit on our environment by environment minister George Eustice. Just some of these examples show how low climate and environment is on the political list of priorities, this became even clearer when the offices in which were used for the now abolished department of climate change were used for Brexit.

Leading on to other nations, the mention of climate in political parties is almost void. The exposure it has gained, unfortunately, was negative, coming from Donald Trump. Trump has essentially disregarded climate issues from his entire political agenda, branding it fake and scare-mongering.

The sad fact that remains, lands on that there isn’t a great deal we can do about it. In the UK, the media is heavily controlled by Westminster, the lack of climate change related media reflects this and suggests bad leadership. What can be done to make the world understand that this problem will not just go away?

At this point in the proceedings, there genuinely isn’t much that we can do, except for making changes in our own lives and leading campaigns within our natural demographics. The argument we can make stands – if the media and government takes more interest in this very REAL problem, would some issues begin to get resolved?

By Amanda Elliott, Communications Officer

Photo Credit: Michael Beckwith 

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Spring Festival Event Review

A fight against the elements. A nightmare gazebo. Today marked the annual Spring Festival, and we were determined to man our tent despite the obstacles thrown our way. Armed with our campus grown ale, our Good Shed bread, honey, jam, and recipe cards we played the waiting game. Adjacent to us was a group partnering with Strada, where many types of Italian delicacies were sold, and the adjoining Pizza/ Italian dessert stand next to it. Each item beckoning for me to try it.

What was a slow start for our Sustainability stand gradually gained momentum as the event went further on. Many seemed disappointed that our bread oven wasn’t in operation that day, but we reassured them that it would be re-assembled for our next event. As a substitute, we had bread from The Good Shed which proved to be quite popular along with our campus grown-ale.

spring fest.jpg

One of the particularly amazing stalls was a fair-trade smoothie stand. Powered by an electric bike, you made your own smoothie (with the ingredients cut up by those that manned the stand). The faster you rode, the quicker you got your smoothie. The smoothies were ready in 45 seconds maximum, so you wouldn’t have been riding the bicycle forever. Anyone who didn’t jump on the bike missed out on some delicious smoothies.

To our left were regulars at the Spring Festival. Their produce was locally sourced and their most popular item, the venison burger. I’ve never had venison before, and I had wanted to try their stuff last year, but my funds were lacking at (the struggling life of a uni student) the time, so I had to postpone that desire. It was amazing! I would definitely buy venison burgers if I knew where they were sold.

To our right was a stand with an array of cakes such as a tantalising Oreo cake.

If I listed all the wonderful stands that I saw on the day, then we would be here all day. If you didn’t come to the Spring Festival this year you should feel ashamed. But you have to make sure you are there next year, deal?

By Francis Olaku

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Chocolate Tasting Evening: Review (01/03/2017)

Over the course of your lifetime, on average you will have consumed 10,000 chocolate bars. I have probably long exceeded that amount, and I feel no shame about that. This evening marked the sequel to the last Divine Chocolate tasting that took place two years ago. The long distance relationship between myself and Divine chocolate had reached boiling point as I had not tasted her in so long. She was happy to see me again.

For those who do not know, Divine Chocolate is a Fairtrade company whose farmers have long since benefited from this process. They’ve invested in many ventures in their communities, some of which include adult literacy and numeracy classes for women for instance. If they didn’t receive the profits they did from their Fairtrade commission, who knows if we would still receive such quality chocolate.

choc tasting

The evening started in reverse order. First we got to taste some really “Divine” chocolate (see what I did there)? Then Divine Chocolatier Erik Houlihan-Jong led us on a chocolate historical odyssey that debuted in Mesoamerica, to its introduction to European audiences via Cortés. Erik’s larger than life persona made the history lesson worthwhile.

We were then given the low-down on how Divine chocolate gets made. The processes making me appreciate their elegant chocolate much more.

Next we indulged in a sensory tasting session. We were instructed to feel the texture of the chocolate. With Erik explaining why it felt the way we did. After that we attempted to listen to the chocolate. Like the last time I heard nothing, the chocolate bar was playing with my feelings. When we did the snap test then I knew that the listening test was a trick. We then got to the part you’ve probably been waiting to hear about. Drum roll please…….. The tasting. Erik had us push the chocolate through our mouths starting from our tongues. As the chocolate danced around my mouth, I was in a state of euphoric bliss. The chocolate and I were one. Had I ate the chocolate the way I usually did, I would not have appreciated the taste as much. It momentarily made me forget that Divine Chocolate do not sponsor me, but I got free chocolate and you didn’t which is all that matters.

Sadly the event ended. On the plus side, I bought some chocolate. I hope it will not be another two years until I’m reunited with my lover Divine chocolate.

We hope to welcome Erik and Divine Chocolate back to CCCU very shortly!

By Francis Olaku

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Sustainable Mothers Day

Mothers day is upon us, and it’s time to make the best women we know realise how much we adore them. Of course, mothers day consists of loads of beautiful gifts like cards, flowers and bottles of prosecco that are great presents of course, but not so good for our environment. Here I will give you five present ideas for your amazing mother that are no danger to our environment:

1. Organic Flowers

If you ask your local florist, you can get organic and therefore eco-friendly flowers. People will rarely ask for them, therefore they will be easier to get hold of and they still look just as beautiful.

2. Homemade, Organic Jewellery

A number of shops create organic jewels nowadays, and your town center is sure to have at least one shop that is based upon their organic guidelines. This kind of jewellery has a much more rustic feel to it, and it makes the perfect mothers day gift whilst still being affordable.

3. ‘Mum’s Ultimate Survival Box’

Online shop Not On The High Street is selling a gorgeous beauty box by Green Tulip Ethical Living. It contains a selection of hand-picked natural products that any woman is sure to enjoy and feel beautiful in.

Check it out here.

4. Handbag Loving

A selection of well-known, high quality fashion brands create sustainable and ethical handbags. This includes Matt & Nat, Parker Clay and Purse and Clutch. As well as this, they’re incredibly affordable and you cannot go wrong with these gorgeous brands. Find the best ethical handbags here.

5. Make your own cards

This is the most simple and obvious option on this list. It’s so much more meaningful and personal to buy mum a handmade card that you put a lot of thought in to. As well as this, it’s also incredible to the environment to create it yourself.

There you have it, the amounts of ideas are endless.

By Amanda Elliott, Communications Officer 

 

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A chat with Erik from Divine Chocolate

As you may already know, on 1st March 2017, we are holding our second evening of Fairtrade chocolate tasting with Divine Chocolate – a London based organisation that creates an incredible selection of chocolate in a variety of flavours with fairtrade ingredients only.

I had a chat with Erik, master choclatier at Divine Chocolate ahead of his second visit to Canterbury about his career, ideas on sustainability and chocolate of course.

Most companies are beginning to adapt fairtrade guidelines, do you believe this has taken too long?

Getting the public to change shopping habits is a matter of educating people about the options available.  As well, showing the larger players that there is a market for Fairtrade is something Divine has been doing for many years.

What is the best thing about working for a company that prides itself upon fairtrade?

Working for Divine is a pleasure.  Not too long ago, I became a father and it made me rethink the concept of family.  Of course, many of the cocoa farmers have families themselves and they want the best for their children – ensuring that they can earn a good wage for their work, is incredibly important to me.

So true! How did you get into this field?

I have a background in education, teaching music and drama, but have always been interested in food and drink.  Divine were looking for people to share the Divine Chocolate story, so I produced a video of myself presenting a recipe in the kitchen, got the interview, and won over the panel!  That was three years ago, and now I speak at schools, run chocolate making workshops and give after dinner talks.

Besides from Divine Chocolate, what is your favourite brand of chocolate?

There are three main types of cocoa being grown, and one of them is called Criollo and is used in less than 3% of the worlds’ chocolate production.  If you can find it, it is certainly an interesting taste experience.

What’s your favourite thing about your job?

Clearly eating lots of chocolate!

I should hope so! What can we expect from the chocolate tasting evening?

Participants can expect to learn how to use all five senses to better understand chocolate. We learn about the history of chocolate, chocolate production from bean to bar, and of course we hear about Fairtrade cocoa farming.

And lastly, what does sustainability mean to you?

For me, sustainability means that I’m ensuring future generations will be able to share my love of chocolate.

 

There you have it! Join us on 1st March 2017 at Barista and Baker for this fun-filled, informative evening!

 

 

 

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One Day Without Us – CCCU Joins In

Monday 20th February 2017 will mark a day of celebration for migrants in the UK, and their incredible contributions that they make to our culture and economy.

Canterbury Christ Church University will ‘walk-out’ (of lectures if necessary) and stand in solidarity with migrant workers, as well as our international students and staff. We will gather by the pond in the quad for ten minutes, all are invited.

During this time of movement, solidarity and change, it needs to be understood that we need migrants in the UK. Here are some of the reasons why:

1. Contributions to our economy

Of course, more migrants means a higher demand for public services. However, it is undeniable that this is outweighed by the contributions immigrants make to our GDP. It was once found that, contrary to popular belief, 1.7% of EU migrants claim unemployment benefits. Immigrants help fill gaps in a market of jobs where there are shortages, i.e the NHS.

2. International students

As a university student, I am friends with plenty of international students. It has been said that foreign culture is conducive to great, life-long friendships. International students paired with British students provides a sharing of culture, a positive on so many levels. International studies are amazing for career prospects as well, and some of our most pioneering minds will stem from international study in the UK.

3. Saving the ageing population

An ageing population is basically what it says on the tin, a population that has more individuals past a certain age. This leads to more retirees, resulting in less money being pumped into the economy as there are less people paying taxes and earning money through jobs. Therefore, we need a growing population to ensure this becomes less of an issue.

4. Diversity

The benefits of a culturally-diverse nation are endless. It promotes humanistic views, builds new relationships, promotes equality, allows us to explore new fashions and cuisines, the list goes on. Diversity gives, especially young people an amazing outlook.

These are only some of the benefits, but I couldn’t possibly list them all!

Please stand in solidarity with us on 20/02/2017 at midday.

http://www.1daywithoutus.org/

By Communications Officer, Amanda Elliott

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