National Gardening Week: Cultivating a green space at home or in your office

Whether you are working from home, studying remotely or back on campus, there is a simple way of improving your space and creating a routine that is good for you and good for your plants, without the requirement of a garden.

The benefits of having plants indoors are numerous. They do not just look good, there are proven benefits for your health by having house plants around your working environment.

Plants can reduce stress and anxiety and data from scientists, including NASA, has confirmed that many houseplants can purify the air around us. Just the sight of greenery or the sense that you are surrounded by natural things can foster calmness, improved memory and a reduction in stress.

However, some people find the thought of caring for houseplants a bit stressful in itself, and some have seen many former houseplants make their way to the compost heap after struggling to survive in their homes or offices.

Below are some of the easiest plants to keep alive no matter what your office/desk space is like. Hopefully, these will convert even the most hesitant of would-be plant keepers!

Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum)

Can survive very well in low light and will tell you when it needs water by drooping its leaves – perfect for people who tend to over water their plants. Peace lilies just need some food during the summer and deadheading of flowers that have faded – chop those brown flowers off!

Peace lilies are great at removing ammonia, benzene and formaldehyde from the air but careful if you have pets about. Lilies are incredibly poisonous!

Snake Plant (Sanseveieria)

Will survive happily in barely any light but will also flourish in bright indirect sunlight. They thrive on neglect so if that is your style of plant parenting, then this is the plant for you! Snake plants tend to grow slowly so are not going to suddenly take up a lot of space and will actively remove benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and xylene from the air.

Devil’s Ivy (Pothos)

Pothos plants are dramatic, fast growing and virtually indestructible! They are great for people that want an instant lift to their space and can be brought back from the dead by creating cuttings from the plant and starting again. Pothos’ like some humidity, so get a cheap mister or spray bottle and she will appreciate a light mist a couple of times a week.

There are some wonderful youtube channels and other resources that will help you find the right plant for your space and give you advice on how to help the plant flourish. Some of my favourites include:

  • Crazy Plant Guy
  • Planterina
  • And Christopher Griffin (aka Plant Kween) who if you search for, is in lots of other videos and also has a great Skillshare class that includes cultivating a routine

Cultivating a routine

Once you have a plant, or many plants, in your space it is important to create a stress free plant care routine that works for you and your plant. Your plant will need watering as well as occasional feeding, checking for pests and problems, misting where needed and pruning and repotting when the time is right.

By creating a routine to care for your plants, not only are you giving them the care they need, but I find, the time I spend weekly carrying out their basic maintenance is a great time for my own mindfulness and relaxation. At last count I have 37 houseplants and so it takes me about 45mins a week to get round them all, checking their soil, watering them and making sure they are happy. That is 45 minutes where I am completely focused on a simple task that brings me joy for the whole week being surrounded by healthy plants. 45 minutes where I am completely in the moment and not worrying about anything else.

Your routine could be as simple as Monday morning, when you make that first cup of tea, spending 5 minutes whilst you wait for your tea to cool, checking how your snake plant is getting on and giving it a drink.

Best place to find house plants

If you have a friend or colleagues that loves houseplants, chances are they are cultivating new plants from cuttings/propagation. You may be able to get some starter plants for free or a small charge. There are lots of great websites for plants but these can be quite pricey so I would recommend some smaller independent shops. Two that I like in East Kent are Marmarmargate and the Plantlet Shop. If you have any other recommendations, please do let me know, especially if you know of any places in the Medway area.

I would suggest avoiding some of the larger garden centres/DIY stores for houseplants as often they are root bound and where they have been allowed to sit water are often suffering the beginnings of root rot which is setting you up for failure if you are not confident in dealing with this.

I hope that this National Gardening Week gives you the inspiration and motivation to start creating your own cultivated green corner, even if it is on your desk.

University sets new zero carbon target

By 

The University has set a target of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2040 but is already planning how to engage students, staff and other stakeholders to achieve this target earlier – by 2035.

Our Executive Group has agreed the new target following a review of our current emissions, building performance, financial resources and available technologies.

The target applies to scope 1 and 2 emissions (gas, electricity and University-owned vehicles) by 2040 at the latest, with scope 3 emissions (including business travel, emissions from waste and water) targeted for net zero by 2050.

The new target will be a key objective in the University Sustainability Strategy currently being developed by our Sustainability Steering Group. It builds on a carbon emissions reduction target set in 2010, which aimed to reduce emissions by 23% by 2020 and was achieved a year early.

Next steps

A Carbon Management Plan will set out the roadmap for achieving the new target, stating how we will reduce carbon emission across the whole institution, from buildings and operations to teaching and research. Progress will be monitored by our Sustainability Steering Group, chaired by Richard Reece, DVC Education and Student Experience.

Catherine Morris, Environmental Adviser at Kent, comments: While technologies such as renewable energy generation and decarbonised heating systems will play a large part in achieving the target, ultimately, it is people’s behaviours’ and activities that drive the demand for energy. By adopting a whole-institution approach to carbon management, we hope to reduce demand alongside supporting our staff and students to adopt low-carbon lifestyles and to contribute to local, national and global sustainability efforts.’

Getting involved

The Sustainability Team is keen to hear what you think about its sustainability plans. Have your say now via our sustainability consultation, which is open until the end of April.

Staff can also get involved by becoming Futureproof sustainability champions and students have the option to become sustainability ambassadors.

Further information is available on our Sustainability webpages.

Picture shows: John Kingsland, Energy Engineer, Estates Department.

Kent People: Landscape and Sustainability teams

By Alice Allwright

Ahead of National Gardening Week 2021 (26 April-2 May 2021) we talk to Chris Wright, the University’s Landscape and Grounds Supervisor, and Emily Mason, Sustainability Coordinator.

 

Tell us about your roles and a typical day?  

Chris: I coordinate maintenance of the University’s natural spaces – everything from grass-cutting, bed and shrub maintenance, to woodland and pond management and looking after memorial trees and benches. I also oversee management of our sports facilities, working with staff and students on projects that use our green spaces.

A typical day starts with briefing my ten-person team on what needs doing across our 300-acre Canterbury campus. My responsibilities include overseeing planning for future works and developing our new Landscape and Biodiversity Strategy. We work alongside the sustainability team to ensure our management plans align with biodiversity enhancement and support natural space for wildlife as well as people.

Emily: I support sustainability projects across our campuses and provide expertise on specific sustainability topics like biodiversity management and behaviour change solutions. One of my projects is the Kent Community Oasis Garden, which I oversee in partnership with East Kent Mind.

Because my role is so varied, I don’t have a typical day, but I often work with our Sustainability Champions, who embed sustainability into their work. Both Chris and I recognise how lucky Kent is to have beautiful campuses for staff and students to enjoy.

Who else is involved in looking after our green campus?

There are many volunteers and sub-contractors who help look after our campus.

Subcontractors support our woodland management by carrying out coppicing rotations on our behalf. Students and staff help with litter picking, biodiversity monitoring, supporting our Hedgehog Friendly Campus project and using the green spaces for educational purposes. Student societies provide feedback and ideas of how we can improve the site alongside the Staff Sustainability Champions network.

We also work with Grounds teams from other universities sharing best practice on sustainable management techniques.

What can you tell us about the Kent Community Oasis Garden (KentCOG)?

KentCOG is a partnership community garden run by East Kent Mind and the University. It recognises the important role outdoor spaces play in supporting good mental health. KentCOG provides a space for students, staff and the community to learn about growing sustainable food in a calming outdoors environment. It runs practical and digital workshops on ecotherapy, dealing with low mood and anxiety.

The partnership ensures continuity throughout the year with community members keeping the garden going when students aren’t on site.

How has the pandemic affected your work?

All Landscape and Grounds staff were stood down during the first lockdown to reduce numbers on campus. This coincided with the start of the growing season, so when we returned we prioritised restoration of central areas.

During lockdown 2, we were partially furloughed again, meaning our usual winter management didn’t happen, but we’ve planned our Winter 2021 programme to catch up by the end of year. Our contractors were able to continue coppicing, so our woodland and tree management plans are still on track.

It’s been hard, but the team have coped very well. We hope people have come to value outdoor spaces even more during the pandemic and will enjoy the campuses’ beautiful landscape when they return.

KentCOG has been closed for most of the pandemic. However, volunteers are now working to restore the site, so we can reopen for events this summer and, hopefully, permanently in September. We have run digital sessions in lieu of practical gardening and will be shortly launching a series of wellbeing workshops for students during the exam term.

As more of us start returning to campus, what can we expect to see?

We’re keen to emphasise the use of outdoor spaces as safe places for staff and students.

We’re collaborating with Kent Sport in restoring the nature trail at Canterbury, which they’ve publicised alongside their marked-out running routes. We’ve also recently installed a new walking trail from the Canterbury campus to the KentCOG following the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and are developing walking tours led by staff from Landscape and Grounds and the Sustainability Team.

Areas on campus have been marked to be developed as wildflower meadows over the next year. We’ve also commissioned the building of new hibernaculas, providing shelter for important pollinators and other insects. We’ve planted bulbs across 1,000 sq m so people can enjoy seeing new plants popping up over the seasons. Alliums are due next!

We are also hoping to work with the University of Greenwich to enhance green spaces at Medway and create a walking route linking both ends of the campus

How can staff help look after our campus green spaces and the KentCOG?

Staff are invited to complete our consultation on the Landscape and Biodiversity of our campuses – we’re keen to have lots of ideas for our new Landscape and Biodiversity strategy.

Volunteers are welcome at our open sessions at KentCOG. We’ll let you know as soon as we re-open – in the meantime, you can join our mailing list by emailing kentcog@kent.ac.uk.

You can also find out more about what we do and get in touch via our social media accounts:

Sustainability Instagram/Twitter

Landscape and Grounds Instagram/Twitter

This is a repurposed version of a blog post and may differ from the original. View the original blog post.

Book Review: What Can I Do (about the climate crisis)? Jane Fonda tells you

Guest post: My name is Hannah Maple and I am a third year Psychology student. Studying this subject has expanded my interests so much. I think it’s really important to learn about the world you live in and understand how your actions influence it.


Jane Fonda is a controversial character but one of her many admirable qualities is how committed she is to elevating voices and influencing causes she is passionate about. Her most recent cause is the Climate Crisis.

Her demonstrations are called Fire Drill Fridays, whereby she and other activists rally in Washington D.C. and commit civil disobedience, risking arrest to stand up for the climate. Their website is full of content from experts on all issues climate: https://firedrillfridays.com.

In the fight to raise awareness she has written a book called “What Can I Do?”. The book outlines the issues raised at the various rallies that took place between October 2019 and January 2020. There can be a lot of confusion about what you, one individual, can do to help the climate crisis and the abundance of issues it refers to. Jane’s book ‘What Can I Do?’ outlines everything so perfectly, step by step of what causes can help and what role you can play.

On reading this book there were so many areas that I didn’t even consider being related to the climate crisis. Ignorance is bliss. But this book has certainly motivated me to get more involved in any way I can, and I just wanted to share the things I have learnt, and encourage you, if you haven’t already, to maybe have a read of Jane’s book.

Some of the issues she raised and what actionable steps we can take:

The Oceans

One of the most common areas discussed when on the topic of climate change is the ocean. The ocean absorbs so much heat as a consequence of global warming and almost half of the oxygen we breathe comes from the ocean so we need to protect it (https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/ocean-oxygen.html). In addition to the heating of the waters, it is well understood that many fishing practises are unsustainable and damaging to the areas in which they fish, destroying the ocean beds and habitats.

Furthermore, an area I had never heard of or considered before was the unethical employment of these fishing boats and the human trafficking practises that occur on some.

Actionable steps:

– Eat less fish.

– Use less plastic, particularly single-use plastics

– Write to officials to let them know you care about this issue and you expect them to also care.

Water

Access to clean, safe water was recognised by the UN as a human right in 2010 (United Nations, 2010) but there are so many people that don’t have that and it’s predicted that the vital resource is going to become even more scarce. According to WWF, by 2025 it is predicted that two-thirds of the world’s population will face water shortages.

Water supplies are being polluted and others drying up. We need to protect this vital resource, needed to sustain life.

The blue communities project is working hard to support the UN Sustainable development goals (particularly, 1 No poverty, 2 Zero hunger, 3 Good health and wellbeing, and 14 Life below water). The idea is to adopt the mindset that water is a public good, “shared by everyone and is the responsibility of all”. These Blue communities are popping up all over the world. https://www.blue-communities.org/About_the_programme

Actionable steps:

– Buy less plastic water bottles, use refillable bottles.

– Avoid using hazardous house cleaners and pesticides that pollute water systems

The Money Pipeline

While movements are being made towards cleaner energy there are still expansions taking place in the fossil fuel industry and our banks are supporting them. One movement, led by students, encouraging colleges and universities to divest from fossil fuel organisations has had a huge influence on the development of the fossil fuel industry. Divestment and protesting has become a serious threat to the fossil fuel industry and their ability to bring in money. This is a huge success.

Jane lists some of the big banks still investing in fossil fuels but have a look online. Greenpeace’s article: https://www.greenpeace.org.uk/news/barclays-banks-climate-change-fossil-fuels/

So much was covered in the book, there is no way you could summarise all of it, these are some of the other topics discussed in the book:

– Health and the climate

– War, the military and the climate

– Women and the climate

– Migration and human rights

– Jobs and a just transition

– Plastics

– Fossil fuels

Jane’s book covers a lot of issues prevalent in the US but that doesn’t mean the same isn’t happening here. The particular organisations she raises may not be applicable to us in the UK but there are many organisations here that are doing wonderful things, we just need to go out and find them. For example, Greenpeace https://www.greenpeace.org.uk.

I found Jane’s book really interesting and so inspiring. I hope you have a look https://www.waterstones.com/book/what-can-i-do/jane-fonda/9780008404581

Do You Say ‘What If’ At the Checkout? – My Journey Towards More Sustainable Consumption

My name is Lucy Lavender, and I am a final year Politics and International Relations student with an interest in communications and conflict analysis. Outside of my studies, I am a Global Officer under the GOLD programme for the university’s Dean for Internationalisation, aiming to promote global engagement and increase cultural awareness. I’m also passionate about upcycling and love spending my time repurposing or altering unwanted clothes and materials into new designs. I’m looking forward to getting involved working with the Kent sustainability team and hope to help simplify the complicated world of sustainable living!


DVDs, books, clothes, shoes, folders, a memorable receipt from that one café I used to go to every Friday in Winter of 2019, or in other words; my ‘stuff’. The confirmation that I am someone who keeps up with fashion, who is interested in non-fiction and enjoys peppermint tea. The ‘evidence’ to my claim of who I am. But how can choosing my ‘stuff’, impact both myself the rest of the world?

In 2015, the United Nations set out a UN Resolution called Agenda 2030; a set of 17 targets, all interdependent upon one another, named the ‘Sustainability Development Goals’. They aim to address our biggest global problems, such as Climate Change, poverty and hunger, alongside building economic growth, stronger institutions and community. The goals create a framework of collective action, to be adopted by charities, institutions, states or individuals, willing to grow towards a more sustainable future. But tackling such immense tasks on an individual level can seem overwhelming to say the least.

Or is it? At the beginning of March 2020, I was living in Prague, having packed one large suitcase in September to last me a year. When the COVID19 pandemic hit, I was faced with having to cram as much of the unjustifiable amount of extra clothes, souvenirs and random leaflets I had collected over my study abroad into the same suitcase – so much extra stuff I had originally decided that I would have to go home for a weekend in April and June and then, donate to charity in order to get everything home. But of course, with all plans out the window, and no shops open to buy extra luggage, I had one day to decide what I definitely wanted and what to leave behind.

Surprisingly, the process was easy, for someone who loves ‘stuff’ I immediately knew what I wore, what I liked and what I wanted the most. Stuff I had worn for years and no longer liked as much, stuff I didn’t really wear, stuff I only wore on certain occasions, stuff I had just accumulated without making a conscious decision became clear. These items found themselves packaged into (embarrassingly) three bin bags and a box, to be left for my landlord to send to me at a later date – only fitting for a year such as 2020, my landlord accidently donated everything.

So, all this ‘stuff’ ended up donated and out of my life for good. Although the initial loss of one beautiful coat and the cumulative cost of everything haunted me for a while, I felt, overall, much lighter. I found myself looking at ‘stuff’ with a new attitude. Where I would once see my copy of ‘The Aristocats’ on DVD (a film I have not seen in years, nor do I even have a DVD player that works to watch it anymore) and think ‘what if it’s worth something one day?’ or ‘what if DVDs come back?’ I now saw something I was holding onto, that I knew, would not be something I’d pack in my last-minute suitcase.

In fact, the more I thought about my stuff, the more I saw a pattern occurring; over half of my stuff is a ‘what if’. A ‘what if I want to wear that one day?’ ‘what if that is worth something?’ ‘what if I want to read that?’ all outnumbering the ‘definite’. Even a lot of my recent purchases were based on ‘what if I have an interview one day?’ ‘what if I regret not buying it?’ or ‘what if I can sell it?’ and most of the things that fitted into the ‘what if’ category were things that sit around, just like the things I let go of on my journey back from Prague, that I felt so much lighter without.

So, since this time, I have decided to question my purchases. If I feel as though it is a ‘what if’ purchase, I know it is impulse and, in most cases, going to become another piece of my ‘stuff’ that sits untouched in my room. I feel more in control of my spending and equally all the better for it. As if that wasn’t benefit enough, the enormously intimidating task we discussed earlier; of making a difference individually towards the UN’s SDG goals, becomes something I have found myself invested in working on.

Saying no to such ‘what ifs’ has not only allowed me to be more selective about the stuff that I bring into my life, but allowed me to cut down my individual consumption massively, helping to work towards SDG no. 12 ‘Responsible Consumption and Production’. With charities beginning to refuse clothing donations due to COVID19 and stock room saturation after being on the receiving end of lockdown spring cleaning, even pre-pandemic, with 700,000 tonnes of clothing being sent to UK recycling centres each year. Shifting our focus from how we dispose to how we consume has never been more important. By analysing our purchases, we become more responsible consumers, and so, I encourage you to try it. The next time you are at the checkout, question if your purchase will lead to a ‘what if?’ or if it already is a ‘what if’ in the first place. Perhaps even more importantly, would you pack it in your last-minute suitcase?

A Merry Sustainable Christmas

Guest Blog from Josh Hill

Josh Hill is a zero-waste products business owner with Soseas and a COVID scientist with a passion for the outdoors and nature.

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Christmas is notoriously a time of year linked with over consumption and waste which becomes even more apparent when you look at some of the stats:

  • 114,000 tonnes of plastic packaging will be thrown away and not recycled this Christmas
  • Over 4 million Christmas dinners are binned every year
  • Enough wrapping paper is used to stretch to the moon (most of which is unrecyclable)

Looking at these points above, it’s clear waste is generated from all aspects of Christmas, from decorations and food to gifts and packaging. So to achieve a more sustainable Christmas needs efforts to be made all round, but don’t worry we’ve got suggestions of how to reduce your waste in all these areas.

Sustainable wrapping

Most wrapping paper is single-use and often unrecyclable due to the mix of materials used in its construction, the result is a bunch of wrapping with a fleeting lifespan that’s destined for landfill. But, there are better alternatives out there. Let’s take a look at a few.

Reusing waste paper

Reusing waste paper might not be the prettiest but it’s for sure one of the lowest waste options. Giving material added lifespan that may otherwise be destined for landfill is a great way to reduce waste.

Many papers are suitable but some common options include:

  • Newspaper
  • Previously used wrapping paper
  • Magazines

Furoshiki

Furoshiki is a traditional Japanese wrapping cloth that’s used to wrap clothes, gifts and more. It’s great as it makes use of material you may already have on hand and has the added benefit of looking pretty special too! It does take a bit of practice but there’s plenty of handy tutorials out there,

Recyclable paper

If you have nothing suitable to hand to wrap presents with, consider buying materials with lower impact; reusable cloth options are great but not always easy to source.

Another good alternative comes in the form of recyclable paper (like brown packing paper), at least that way you can put the waste material to use.

Note: When it comes to wrapping any of the above options can be reused if you tie the gift together with a piece of string in place of difficult to remove sticky tape.

Decorations

Christmas decorations are certainly another huge source of waste with tonnes of decorations being discarded annually. Instead opt for using what you have or some of these great DIYs that are worth trying at home.

Dried oranges

Nothing says Christmas more than some festive slices of dried orange dangled around the tree and fireplace.

They’re also super easy to make:

  • Cut oranges into 2-3cm slices
  • Dry the oranges by placing them in the oven on low
  • Turn the oranges every hour until they’re thoroughly dehydrated

Simply pinecone decoration

Christmas DIY decorations don’t get any easier than this foraged pinecone decoration:

  • Dot the top of the pinecone with a small amount of hotglue
  • Add a loop of twine to the top

Cranberry garland

Cranberry garlands are a great way to add a bit of colour to your tree without using plastic tinsel, they’re also pretty easy to make:

  • Thread your needle and pull through so that each end of the string meet (this helps to keep your garland together)
  • Make sure you knot the end (a few times) so no cranberries fall off
  • Poke through each of your cranberries with the needle until you have made the garland your desired length.

Gifting

We’ve all received those awkward unwanted gifts on Christmas and while we can’t stop your aunty from buying you those ugly socks we have got some suggestions for more sustainable gifting alternatives this season!

Experiences

Gifting experiences is a great way to provide someone with a thoughtful gift without buying more stuff, some great options include:

  • A trip away
  • A voucher for their favourite restaurant
  • Tickets to a gig, the theatre or an event

Pre-loved

Shopping for pre-loved items doesn’t have to be a cop out, many places even sell unwanted new items that are worth saving from landfill. If you’ve got your eye on something for a gift this Christmas it’s worth having a look on websites like depop and eBay to see if a decent second hand option isn’t available first!

Independent and sustainable

Some businesses are more deserving of your custom than others this Christmas, so before you go and buy all your gifts on Amazon consider giving makers, sustainable and local businesses your custom first.

Here are a few great options:

Food

Before you accuse me of a scrooge for asking you to abstain from scoffing your faces all Christmas hear me out!

An eyewatering 2 million turkeys, 5 million Christmas puddings, and 74 million mince pies get binned while still edible, causing almost 270,000 tons of food waste in total during this festive season. Here’s a few tips for reducing your food waste this festive season.

Plan

Planning is one of the keys to keeping your foodwaste under control this christmas, so before you head out and do your big Christmas shop, keep the following in mind:

  • Plan your meals around the festive day including portion sizes so you don’t buy too much
  • Head to the shop with a list so you don’t deviate from what you need
  • Prioritise items with a long shelf life and items that can be frozen

Get creative with leftovers

Don’t let your uneaten food be destined for the bin, get creative with left overs and freeze what you don’t use to extend its shelf life. There are loads of great recipes for leftovers out there, check out some top ones here.

Eat less meat

It’s been widely reported that eating less meat is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint and there’s never been a better time to try some creative veggie recipes out and maybe avoid a few of those extra Christmas pounds.

There we have it, our full guide to having a more sustainable Christmas. Hopefully some of these ideas are useful and have given you some inspiration to bring out your green side this festive season. If you’ve enjoyed this post share it with friends or family that could do with a bit of eco inspiration this Christmas.

What’s happening with the Hedgehogs?

Guest article from School of Anthropology and Conservation student Katie Hargrave-Smith


What’s happening with the Hedgehogs?

The hedgehog, or the Western European Hedgehog (Erinaceus europaeus) to be specific, is a national treasure for us in Britain. We have few wild charismatic mammals as we hunted many to extinction, or caused mass habitat loss. The hedgehog is Britain’s only spiny mammal, and once upon a time people were almost guaranteed to see a hedgehog in their garden in summer. Unfortunately, the hedgehog population has declined by up to 50% since 2000, and are now vulnerable to extinction.

This is largely due to human action. As we continue to change how we use land , we encroach on hedgehog habitat, and by walling our gardens have removed vital remaining habitat from them. They also create nests at ground level, so are vulnerable to grounds management. Furthermore, the defence mechanism of hedgehogs is to curl up into a ball, as their spines fend off predators trying to eat them. However, this defence mechanism is not so effective against humans, as cars often don’t think to drive slowly on roads where hedgehogs could be, or to check bonfires where the hogs might be nesting. And finally, there is not enough consideration given to hedgehogs when people decide to put out slug repellent or rat killer, and hedgehogs are often the unfortunate victim.

 

What can you do to help?

There are a number of things that everyone can do to help hedgehogs; some simply take seconds, while others require a small amount of effort (but it’s worth it to help protect this wonderful creature!) We have used ideas from both the British Hedgehog Preservation society and Hedgehog Street. Here are 10 things you can do, in order of ease:

1)      The Big Hedgehog Map

If you ever see a hedgehog, even if it has sadly died, it is incredibly important, and easy, to log it to the Big Hedgehog Map. This allows conservationists to follow hedgehog populations. It also helps highlight areas for action, such as on a road where hedgehogs are often being killed, a sign can be put up to warn people to drive carefully at night and be aware of hedgehogs. The map also allows you to backlog sightings, so if you saw a hedgehog a year ago and remember where, you can log it!

2)      Don’t litter

Although this one goes without saying, sometimes it is important to say it. Hedgehogs can easily get caught in litter and can also use it in their nests thinking its foliage. Why not make a point to pick up litter when you go out, and tell your friends/family why? Spreading awareness is always helpful.

3)      Check before you mow or strim

Always make a point to check for hedgehogs before you mow the lawn or do any strimming. If it’s not you who does these activities, make sure to mention it if you know someone else is about to.

4)      Make sure bonfires are hog-safe

Hedgehogs see logs stacked up and think of it as an ideal nesting spot, unaware of the danger of bonfires. As hedgehogs curl up when threatened, they sadly do not escape the flames. If you or someone you know is building a bonfire, make sure they know to either build it the day of the bonfire, or to move it the day of, as hedgehogs find nests at night. If you know that a public bonfire night is being organised (such as the annual Bonfire Night), why not contact the organisers to make sure they are being hedgehog safe?

5)      Stop using chemicals

Worms, beetles and other invertebrates make a tasty meal for hedgehogs, and repellents, insecticides and pesticides are all toxic for hedgehogs. These chemicals shouldn’t be necessary in a well-managed garden, but if you feel you have to use them, why not search for a hog-safe repellent? Such alternatives could include using coffee grounds, wool pellets, or slug tape (and there are more!)

6)      Put out food and water

Why not put out some food and water for hedgehogs to enjoy? They eat hedgehog food (the brands Spikes and Brambles are the only Hedgehog Friendly Campus approved brands), and meaty cat and dog food. Putting out a water dish is especially important for hedgehogs during dry spells. However, please don’t put out your pumpkin this halloween, it’s bad for hedgehogs!

7)      Call for help if you see a hedgehog during the day

Hedgehogs are nocturnal, so if you see one during the day it is probably unwell. If it seems like it is going somewhere with intention, or it is carrying leaves in it’s mouth for its nest, it could be okay, but if unsure call a local rescue service for advice.

8)      Create a wild corner

If you have a garden, why not allow a corner to grow naturally? They love brambles, hawthorn, wildflowers,  and nettles! This will create a great habitat for hedgehogs, from nesting areas and foliage, as well as lots of prey for them to eat! You can add branches to create structure.

9)      Make your pond hedgehog safe

Hedgehogs can swim! However, they cannot climb out of steep verges, so unless your pond has a bank, why not add a ramp to allow hedgehogs to climb out so that they don’t drown? You can add a ramp using wood, rocks or chicken mesh. Also, make sure that the water levels stay topped up.

10) Link up your garden

Making sure there is a hedgehog sized hole in your fence allows the hedgehog to roam between gardens. A 13x13cm (5×5”) hole will allow a hedgehog through, but not most pets. Make sure you speak to your neighbours if you share the fence and use this as an opportunity to share what you know about hedgehogs! You might inspire them to make other holes in their fences and make their garden more hedgehog friendly.

 

What we are doing to make our campus hedgehog friendly

The University of Kent became part of the Hedgehog Friendly Campus scheme in 2019, and members of the university recently undertook a survey to find out if there are hedgehogs present on campus. Ten tunnels were strategically placed around campus in which any small animals could walk through, over a strip of non-toxic ink and leave footprints on the other side.

As well as this, the university carries out regular litter picks around campus, including the woods on the site, and the Landscape and Grounds management team have had sessions to educate them on what to do if they find an injured hedgehog, how to check for them if they are about to strim and what risks there may be on campus for resident hedgehogs. Thanks to these efforts, the University of Kent has been awarded the Bronze award by the Hedgehog Friendly Campus Scheme and is looking to work towards the silver award.

If you’d like to get involved, please email Emily Mason from the Sustainability Team at sustainability@kent.ac.uk

Inspired by nature

Guest blog by Rebecca Smith, Sustainability Champions for Kent Business School.

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Understanding the potential for nature to inspire ideas was the topic of the first Business Start-Up Journey Ideas Hack bootcamp.

Using the Canterbury campus as a living lab, students went into the ancient woodland of Brotherhood Wood, near to the Sibson building, to explore how nature can inspire solutions to problems in the human world, using this problem solving as the basis for starting to develop business ideas.

The bootcamp began with an overview from the University’s Sustainability Coordinator, Emily Mason, on the biodiversity crisis facing the planet. She explained how careful management of the University’s natural capital was trying to counter it. Then, using the woods as their inspiration, students were set the task of developing an idea which would either tackle the issue of biodiversity or of improving mental health.

Ideas included a woodland adoption programme and classrooms based in the woods to promote a closer connection to nature.

In the afternoon, students took part in a further interactive workshop in the Sibson building, generating ideas based on understanding of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and looking at the subject of biomimicry. Biomimicry uses the solutions which animals, plants, and microbes have found to help solve problems in the human world.

They were led through a rapid idea generation session by the ASPIRE’s Innovator in Residence, Jo Pullen, and ASPIRE Project Officer, Rebecca Smith.

The bootcamp on Saturday 24 October followed a successful launch event with a keynote speech by entrepreneur, Mick Jackson, who founded of the multi-million pound global company, Wildhearts. Mick talked about the purpose of ‘business for good’ and the importance of finding your ‘why’.

The Business Start-Up Journey programme is a mix of interactive workshops, mainly online in Teams, real life bootcamps and one-to-one support. Students are guided through the process of starting a business, from finding, developing and testing an idea to creating financial and marketing plans and pitching for investment. The programme, which is philanthropically supported, ends with a pitching competition where student entrepreneurs can win £1000 to help start their business.

Sustainable Development Goals – Canterbury Campus Trail (coming soon)

The Sustainable Development Goals (also known as the Global Goals or SDGs) are 17 goals that outline a vision for a sustainable world by 2030. The 17 goals and underlying targets were created and signed by 193 countries at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in 2015.

The goals seek to finish the job that was started by the Millennium Goals which ran from 2000 to 2015 and brought 850,000,000 people out of extreme poverty and yet saw carbon emissions increase by 9,850,000 kilotons.

The University of Kent has signed the SDG Education Accord that commits us to embedding all 17 goals into our operations, teaching and research. As part this we would like all staff and students to become familiar with the goals by getting out and about across campus and discovering all 17.

Launching in autumn 2020 a new trail around campus showcases each of the 17 goals whilst leading you across central campus and to the Kent Community Oasis Garden.

The trail starts with SDG 1: No Poverty, which aims to eradicate extreme poverty and reduce overall poverty by 50% by 2030. You will find this post on central campus near the Library.

The trail ends with SDG 17: Partnerships, which you will find at the Kent Community Oasis Garden, our flagship community partnership project at the Canterbury campus where food growing is used as a way of meeting new people, reducing stress, learning new skills and getting some fresh air.

Please check back once the trail has been installed for more information and a map of all the posts.

A guide to student-friendly toiletries plastic reduction: blog post #4

Guest post by SDG Ambassador Julia Daly

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Welcome to the last blog post of this plastic reduction series. I’ve seen many undergrads already receiving their final results, and many postgrads, myself included, will soon be handing in (or have already handed in) our final dissertations. With this closure to the academic year, I will also be bringing this blog series to an end. But before I go, I would like to share two shampoo bar products that I have tried and loved. Shampoo bars that work for your particular hair type are, in my experience, the most difficult to find when it comes to plastic free alternatives, so I am THRILLED to have found two that both work.

Today’s focus are shampoo bars from two brands: Eco Warrior and Faith in Nature. Both are available from Holland and Barrett and Boots so very accessible. Eco Warrior are a British brand that make soap which is vegan, cruelty free and eco-friendly using recyclable packaging. Similarly, Faith in Nature are also UK based, cruelty free, vegan and reducing plastic use by using recyclable and recycled packaging. Eco Warrior are a purely soap bar company, whereas Faith in Nature provide a plethora of options: soap bars, liquid shampoo in fully recycled plastic bottles, the option of buying 5 litre or 20 litre bottles of liquid product to reduce plastic consumption and refill stations in stores across the country.

Eco Warrior – Shampoo Bar, Orange and Ginger Essential Oils, 100g for £4.00

A good size shampoo bar that lathered well when wet. As I’ve not had a great experience with shampoo bars in the past, I found that this one was the first to lather well and could be used by directly placing the bar onto my hair without leaving clumps of product behind. It does take a while to cover your entire head and get to the roots, I would say about twice as long as with liquid product. My hair didn’t need a lot of time to get used to the new product, perhaps a week or so, and after washing, my hair felt very clean and oil free. The only thing that wasn’t ideal about the product was that it seemed to half in size after every use, meaning that it only lasted about a month and a half. My hair, being thick and long probably expedited the use of the product so someone with thinner, shorter hair would definitely get a lot more use out of one bar.

Faith in Nature – Shampoo Bar, Coconut & Shea Butter, 85g on sale for £4.34, RRP £5.79

I have only just started using this shampoo bar but needed to include it in this post despite not giving it a full trial. Despite being a smaller bar, it doesn’t seem to use as much product per wash compared to the Eco Warrior bar implying it will last longer (picture shows new, unused bar on the left vs bar used for two washes on the right).

The thing I noticed which was consistent between bars is the necessary for patience to get enough product for a good lather. But once this is achieved, the result is squeaky clean. Both products weren’t particularly drying or moisturising, so you just achieve a neutral clean. Both bars had a pleasant, mild scent which does not linger in your hair once it is rinsed and dried which some people prefer. If you do like to have some scent to your hair or require extra moisturiser, I recommend following up with a conditioner but this is by no means necessary!

Shampoo is a product I personally use a lot of due to my hair length and type so it is great to find plastic free alternatives although they are not 100% perfect! These were definitely a step in the right direction and may work better for you than they do for me depending on your hair type.

Thus concludes my student friendly guide to plastic reduction series! I am so grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the Sustainability Kent blog as a Sustainability Development Goals Ambassador. Although I will no longer be a student in the very near future, I hope to continue sharing my personal plastic reduction journey perhaps through a newly created blog dedicated to plastic reduction. Thank you to everyone who has given me such wonderful feedback and I hope the series is helpful to students and non-students alike!

Disclaimer: All opinions are my own. I purchased these items with my own money, they are not a gift nor is this post sponsored.

Check out Eco Warrior and Faith in Nature below:

https://www.ecowarriorsoap.co.uk/

https://www.faithinnature.co.uk/