Welcoming Jess to the team!

Hi everyone! My name is Jess, I’m a student here at Kent studying Environmental Social Science, and I have just begun my work placement year with the University Sustainability Team, as Sustainability Projects Officer. I have always loved nature, and been passionate about conservation and sustainability, so I knew this role was a perfect opportunity for me. I admire the team’s hard work and all they have achieved and can’t wait to get involved and contribute my ideas. Through my placement I hope to gain valuable experience of environmental sector work, and the challenges and rewards this can present. I’m excited to practice skills I have learnt throughout my degree so far, and to be able to develop my abilities in other areas, for example biodiversity monitoring and surveying wildlife on campus.  

Reflecting on my first week in the role, I honestly feel so welcomed, and already feel that I am helping to make a difference by engaging other students with the various environmental initiatives and projects currently taking place at Kent, such as the creation of a Diamond Jubilee Orchard- where 300 fruit trees will be planted to celebrate 60 years of the university and the class of 2025. After a couple of days of training and settling in, I attended the Welcome Fair with the team, where we had stalls promoting the orchard and introducing new students to the Kent Community Oasis Garden (KentCOG)- explaining the work we do, opportunities for volunteering, and helping them plant herb seeds to take home, encouraging a passion for gardening and homegrown produce. We also had a guess the weight of the pumpkin competition– harder than it looks! 

Going forward this term, I expect to be spending lots of time at KentCOG volunteering and coordinating other volunteers, as well as organising events and helping to run social media accounts and campaigns for the team- something I really enjoy. I’m so passionate about raising awareness of issues such as the climate crisis and biodiversity loss and the actions that need to be taken, but I am also very mindful of the negative effects of eco-anxiety. I feel that projects like KentCOG can be so beneficial in helping to alleviate that stress, by allowing people to regain a sense of connection with nature and work together as a community to make a positive impact. 

As well as helping with events, social media and KentCOG, I hope to use my year to liaise with various student societies within the sustainability network, with the hopes of helping each other with shared goals and working together to make the biggest impact that we can. I aim to work with the SAC Sustainability Working Group to support their initiatives for wellbeing, greenspaces, food and curriculum, and also engage with and recruit more staff sustainability champions, as they are vital in implementing any organisation-wide change.  

So, I have lots of goals for this year! But a little bit about me- I absolutely love animals of every kind, being outside in nature, spending time with friends and family, travelling, cooking veggie and vegan food, and art. I also love chatting to people, and especially about anything environment or sustainability related, so please reach out if you want to talk about anything or suggest any ideas that I could help to implement this year! Email me at sustainability@kent.ac.uk. 

Celebrating the people who make Sustainability happen – a year of FutureProof

On June 1st we held a celebration BBQ at the Kent Community Oasis Garden in celebration of our staff Sustainability Champions Network and sustainability volunteers that are making sustainability happen across the University as part of the FutureProof project.

The June 1st Celebration

The BBQ was an opportunity to say thank you to everyone for their continued engagement in sustainability projects in what has been a year of having to adapt to a new normal. FutureProof relies on the continued commitment of our staff volunteers who are delivering sustainability projects within their teams and departments.

We had some continuing projects from previous years including the annual lecture on Computing and Climate Change; KBS’ Stage 2 Market Research Project; Anthropology and Conservation’s Sustainability Working Groups including the annual BioBlitz; embedding sustainability into the Global Officers Programme; and the Medway Green Spaces Project which saw new accessible pathways, beds and green gym equipment installed.

New features at the Medway campus.

We held three formal online workshops for champions this academic year. In autumn term we marked COP26 with a special addition to our SDG and a Cup of Tea series: The Road to Net Zero: The Role of Staff. In Spring Term we welcomed our new champions into FutureProof with a two part guide to the project and a focus on the six Sustainable Development Goals that feature in our new Sustainability Strategy.

Workshops of 2021/2022.

We also had new projects and some exciting collaborations:

  • Our first external champion, Debi Adams, who runs the Kent Community Oasis Garden (a partnership project between the University and East Kent Mind) is collaborating with Silvio Caputo, our KSAP champion on a Horizon Research Proposal looking at the delivery of ecotherapy in our garden
  • New champion Lori Fisher from Biosciences will be collaborating with champions from across catering on delivering Love Food Hate Waste engagement materials
  • New champion Margarita Prieto-Acosta has been on a mission to reduce waste and ensure the proper segregation of waste at Kent Law School during office moves
  • Champions from the Division of Human and Social Sciences Operations; Knowledge Exchange and Innovation; and Internationalisation have been collaborating on a Sustainable Events guide to support staff in making easy sustainable decisions when planning and delivering events across campus. The website for this will be launching soon
  • Champions from College and Community Life have been collaborating with the Kent Community Oasis Garden and Landscape and Grounds Champions Chris Wright to deliver Plant a Seed sessions, mindfulness session and bushcraft workshops
CCL activities.

And finally, our monthly newsletter was relaunched featuring campus sustainability updates; positive national and international news; Champion book reviews and blogs; and the much loved sustainability wordsearch.

It has been a difficult year as we navigate living with covid; adapt to hybrid working; and seek to build back the sustainability momentum we had pre-pandemic. However, it has been wonderful to get FutureProof going again and see staff reengage and build upon their projects or start new ventures despite a challenging backdrop.

A massive thank you to everyone that has been involved from the Sustainability Team. We could not do it without you!

It’s finally happened – my commute is actually cheaper on public transport than by car!

Andrew Briggs, Fire Safety Manager & Environment Adviser at the University of Kent, writes about the benefits of a commute via public transport.

Buses at the Keynes bus stop, with daffodils in the foreground.

I live near Dover. Today the fuel cost for using my car (a very economical one) calculates to a sobering £6.25. That includes a couple of extra miles to avoid clogging up the centre of Canterbury in the afternoon rush hour. The Stagecoach Dayrider ticket is £7.30 but they have a great deal on their app for 10 flexible tickets, bringing the bus fare down to £4.97. And that figure for using my car doesn’t include other mileage-dependent costs like servicing, tyres, extra depreciation and those unpredictable repair bills from time to time.

I’ve been waiting for better deals on public transport for many years, and sometimes pushed our Sustainability and Transport teams on this, but now the incentive is there – and by a large margin! Of course this is partly due to spiralling fuel costs recently, and bus fares are likely to go up too, but I doubt the cost comparison will reverse itself.

And as well as the obvious big-picture win for sustainability, there are other benefits. I’ll admit that a lengthy period without a car recently and having to use the bus has opened my eyes. Sure, my journey takes an extra 25 minutes at each end of the day, but I haven’t missed them. On the contrary – without the constantly attentive and at times wearing task of driving through traffic, I’ve found the bus ride a great space in which to relax, where my mind can idle and decompress. Or conversely, sometimes it’s been a welcome ‘time out’ for more expansive thinking about work or other issues, which I’ve found really helpful. Whatever’s needed on a given day. I’ve found it an unexpected and significant boost to my wellbeing.

So – what’s not to like? I can still use my car occasionally for work in future, but only if I really need to – why throw money away? I’d urge anyone to try switching too!

Telling Stories about Sustainability #KentGlobalOfficers

This year the Sustainability team is working with the International Partnerships team and their amazing Global Officers program as part of the GOLD Project. We are collaborating to embed sustainability throughout the program due to the overlaps and linkages between Internationalisation and Sustainability.

As part of this, we delivered a session recently to the Global Officers about the sustainability challenges we are currently facing and how storytelling can be an important advocacy role in sustainability campaigning bridging the gap between abstract problems and real life human impacts.

Global Officer Sara Said, 1st year, BSc Biomedical Science with a Sandwich Year, shared the following story:

This is about my experiences I thought would be interesting to share.

Back in school in Kenya while I was doing my A-levels, I was the president of the Interact charity club where we would help underprivileged communities in Kenya by implementing both short-term but mostly focusing on long term solutions. There was this one school we visited within a village with over 1000 students who did not have access to clean water, where the parents would have to walk a long way with buckets just to be able to get water.

There was just something about seeing it in-person how happy they were during the opening of the solar-powered borehole we built on their school grounds that made me appreciate how lucky some of us are to be able to have access to clean water and not worry about getting sick from the water we drink.

There was also a public primary school we visited to donate some desks, chairs and food items which opened my eyes to the inequalities within the education system including the conditions and environment in which some students are forced to learn in due to it being the only one the parents can afford to send their children to. The classrooms were cramped up with more children in a class than they were desks, and the classrooms not having sufficient light or enough resources for all the children. I have included a few pictures I managed to take during the event I hope will be helpful for you to be able to envision it.

 

All these experiences during the charity events and public schools I was lucky to have visited heavily influenced me to take such a great importance in bridging such inequalities and taking an interest in sustainability.  It inspired me to do one last event before moving to university which would help to solve an existing problem. My team and I partnered with another charity organisation and initiated the “pad a girl” initiative solely because we had heard from many public schools that most of their girls could not afford sanitation products and had to stay home and miss school when they were on their periods because of this. We were saddened by this and did our absolute best to help them by providing each girl with 3 months supply sanitary products in 3 schools and also providing empowering and motivating talks to the girls.

This initiative is still ongoing and being developed further by the new members who took over. We found a way to help communities by also combining the projects with tackling the Sustainable Development Goals.


If you would like to share your sustainability story please just email it to sustainability@kent.ac.uk

 

Climate Action Week Round-up

The last week has been full of exciting activities as a part of Climate Action Week in the run-up to COP26, the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties. The Sustainability Team have hosted a number of events at the University and it was fantastic to see so many people getting involved and voicing their opinions.

The week began with an online session hosted by Sustainability Coordinator Emily Mason, called ‘SDG and a Cup of Tea: Climate Action – a COP26 Discussion’, where staff came together to discuss the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There was a particular focus on Goal 13, Climate Action, and we discussed the ways that staff can directly support rapid carbon reduction at the University and beyond. Together, we discussed key sustainability topics and came up with lots of new exciting suggestions and ideas.

On Tuesday, we celebrated the launch of the University of Kent’s Sustainability Strategy. The online launch was introduced by Professor Richard Reece, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education and Student Experience, and then Dr Catherine Morris, Environmental Adviser, presented the main four themes that run through the strategy. This was followed by a panel discussion on the future of Sustainability at Kent, chaired by Dr Anthony Manning, Dean for Internationalisation, allowing us to discuss how the strategy will be implemented across the University. This provided the opportunity to share different views and opinions, and to discuss a variety of important topics. We are looking forward to continuing these important conversations, so please contact the Sustainability Team at: sustainability@kent.ac.uk if you want to talk further.

Dr William Rowlandson, Senior Lecturer in Hispanic Studies, took us on a Sustainability Tour following the SDG trail around the Canterbury campus on Wednesday. The sun was shining as we walked around our beautiful campus, discussing topics such as sustainable innovation, campus biodiversity, and responsible consumption. Our tour ended with an introduction to the Kent Community Oasis Garden (Kent COG) from Emily Mason where we talked about SDG 17 – Partnerships for the Goals, learnt about the work that volunteers are doing in the garden, and signed up to become volunteers ourselves!

Sustainability Tour

COP26@Kent: Co-create your campus of the future, held at the Gulbenkian yesterday, brought the many different areas of sustainability together allowing us the opportunity to talk about the challenges and successes of sustainability at Kent. The areas that were represented included: Waste and Procurement, Energy and Buildings, Curriculum and Research, Sustainable Food, Biodiversity and Grounds, Transport (including representatives from Stagecoach and Bird), and Student Action (including representatives from the SAC Sustainability Working Group, and the ECS Society). The Sustainability Ideas Factory was also launched, giving students the chance to win up to £500 by submitting their best ideas about how we can make the University of Kent more sustainable. We received lots of input from staff, students, and the public at the Gulbenkian on Thursday and we are looking forward to implementing your ideas and working together to make change across the different areas of sustainability within the University.

Group of people at the Co-create your sustainable campus event

We want to thank everyone that took part in Climate Action Week this year, and also those that made holding these exciting events possible. With the new Sustainability Strategy published, we are looking forward to connecting and collaborating with others to make the Sustainable University of the Future that we aspire to create a reality.

Celebrating Black Environmentalists #BlackHistoryMonth

Sustainability has always been based off of equity. Equity for the planet and people. Without social equality and justice we cannot have environmental sustainability.

The sustainability/environmental movement must be more vocal against systemic racial violence, injustice and inequalities, committing to listen, learn and take action. It is also a time to reflect on issues within the sustainability community.

We know that those most affected by climate change are the poorest and tend to be from the Global South and black and minority ethnic communities, so why does the environmentalist movement lack diversity?

These conversations can be uncomfortable, but we should feel uncomfortable about the current situation. As people who care about the world we live in, we should be actively engaging with this issues and seeking to dismantle the systems that have led to such injustice and inequality for our fellow humans and the environment we rely on.

To mark Black History Month we wanted to share the voices of black environmentalists and celebrate their work. In all the work we do we will continue to seek out more representative voices and sources to provide a fuller picture of delivering sustainability globally.

Ayana Elizabeth Johnson – marine biologist and conservation strategists, founder of Ocean Collectiv and is an adjunct professor at New York University


“Here is an incomplete list of things I left unfinished last week because America’s boiling racism and militarization are deadly for black people: a policy memo to members of Congress on accelerating offshore wind energy development in U.S. waters; the introduction to my book on climate solutions; a presentation for a powerful corporation on how technology can advance ocean-climate solutions; a grant proposal to fund a network of women climate leaders; a fact check of a big-budget film script about ocean-climate themes, planting vegetables with my mother in our climate victory garden.”
Read Ayana’s piece for the Washington Post on how racism is derailing environmental action here – https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/06/03/im-black-climate-scientist-racism-derails-our-efforts-save-planet/

Dr Robert Bullard – described as the father of environmental justice, he is a Distinguished Professor of Urban Planning and Environment Policy at Texas Southern University.


“America is segregated and so is pollution. Race and class still matter and map closely with pollution, unequal protection, and vulnerability.  Today, zip code is still the most potent predictor of an individual’s health and well-being.  Individuals who physically live on the “wrong side of the tracks” are subjected to elevated environmental health threats and more than their fair share of preventable diseases. Still, too many people and communities have the “wrong complexion for protection.” Reducing environmental, health, economic and racial disparities is a major priority of the Environmental Justice Movement.”

Read more about Robert and his work at https://drrobertbullard.com/

Leah Namugerwa – 15 year old climate change activist and Fridays for Future striker

“Today I was moving door to door distributing food I found these children very tired with jerrycans full of water on their heads. They walk two kms to fetch water. They barely have food. I followed them to their home and donated 15kgs of maize flour. They were happy.”
Read more about Leah here https://therising.co/2020/01/02/leah-namugerwa-climate-activism/ and follow her on twitter @NamugerwaLeah

Wangari Maathai  (1940 – 2011) – author of “Unbowed” Professor Maathai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her contributions to sustainable development and peace. She founded the Green Belt Movement in Kenya.


“Education, if it means anything, should not take people away from the land, but instill in them even more respect for it, because educated people are in a position to understand what is being lost. The future of the planet concerns all of us, and all of us should do what we can to protect it. As I told the foresters, and the women, you don’t need a diploma to plant a tree.”
Find out more about Wangari’s work and legacy here: https://www.greenbeltmovement.org/wangari-maathai

Zakiya McKenzie – PhD candidate with the Leverhulme Trust-supported Caribbean Literary Heritage project at the University of Exeter researching Black British journalism in the post-war period. Zakiya is a writer and storyteller and was the 2019 writer-in-residence for Forestry England during its centenary year. In Bristol, she was 2017 Black and Green Ambassador

By choosing me for the role, Forestry England have explicitly shown that they are committed to hearing and sharing marginalised voicesBy extending the pen and platform to me they have actively validated my voice to the nature and nature writing public. It’s easy for people to think I’ve got here just because I’m black, that’s fine for now but, holla at me when you’ve actually read what I produce and say that with a straight face. The ‘sharing’ is really important here; Forestry England have a huge operation and are an authority on British nature.”
Read her beautiful poems for the Forestry Commission here: https://www.forestryengland.uk/zakiya-mckenzie

Oladosu Adenike – Ecofeminist and leading Nigerian Climate Activist who heads the “ILeadClimate” movement for peace, security and equality in Africa

“In Africa, climate change is no longer a threat but a reality. Invariably climate change is now a global reality. I’m not only worried about the future but the present because any action we take will bind us all. The hope therein is that the climate movement has the face of young people because the youth are tomorrow’s adults. Remarkably, women and girls are at the forefront of the fight for climate justice.”

Read more from her speech during Ecocide, a performance art event in Stuttgart, Germany here: https://www.environewsnigeria.com/climate-change-nowhere-is-safe-if-africa-isnt-adenike-oladosu-warns/

The Sustainability Team welcomes new member, Bella.

Hi everyone! My name is Bella, and I am an Environmental Social Science student at the University of Kent. I have recently joined the University Sustainability Team to carry out a work placement as part of my undergraduate degree, and I am very excited to get involved with the amazing work that the Sustainability Team are doing. I really wanted to do a year in professional practice to get experience of working in a professional environment, to learn more about my own interests and potential career paths, and to put the skills that I have learnt throughout my degree so far into practice.  

My main interests are community conservation and learning about how we can act to mitigate the climate and ecological crisis. I am looking forward to working on a variety of projects with the Sustainability team that I hope will help to improve biodiversity and bring our local community together to make positive change. This term I will mostly be working on the Hedgehog Friendly Campus project and with the Kent Community Oasis Garden (KentCOG), where volunteers can come to spend time in nature, garden, and grow food.  

The Hedgehog Friendly Campus project is particularly exciting for me as I have been lucky enough to have regular hedgehog visitors in our garden at home during the lockdown, and so I am passionate about raising awareness of the dangers that hedgehogs are currently facing. In the past decade we have lost over a half of rural hedgehogs and a third from towns and cities, largely due to habitat loss and fragmentation. This forces hedgehogs to move into more urban areas where they may not be able to find enough food and water and are threatened by poison or traffic. The University of Kent has already been awarded the Silver Hedgehog Friendly Campus status as a result of efforts to make the campus a safer place for hedgehogs to live, and this year we will be working towards achieving the Gold Hedgehog Friendly Campus status! 

I also enjoy learning about the impact that the climate crisis is having on our mental health and, with the Wellbeing subgroup from the SAC Sustainability Working Group, set up a series of Climate Cafés to create a space where we can safely express our feelings about climate change. We are hoping to run more of these online events so please get in touch if you are interested. In my free time, I enjoy travelling, spending time in nature (especially at the beach with my dog), meeting up with my friends and family, and watching Marvel movies whilst I crochet!  

If you have any questions about the projects that I will be helping with, or want to get involved, please feel free to contact me via email: is348@kent.ac.uk 

Food & Fashion? Improving sustainable consciousness – my realisations, experiences, and what I’ve learnt incorporating sustainable practices into my lifestyle.

I’m Bilal Hussain, a Politics & International Relations graduate and Global Officer at the University of Kent. I’m passionate about sharing what I’ve learned from my experiences so far and working together with students and staff at the University of Kent to build a greener future for all!

For many like myself, trying to incorporate sustainable lifestyles is a notion that is met with complaints about the difficulty and impracticality that has long been associated with greener life choices. Prior to the UN setting out the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015 there was arguably a level of ignorance and dismissal towards sustainable alternatives in our daily lives, something that I personally am accountable for as well. Fast forward to 2021, we now have more variety and accessibility to greener technologies, transport, and diets but more importantly a stronger awareness within our societies of the real-world impact climate change has had. My own journey to improving my sustainable consciousness was filled with realisations that it was in fact not as hard as I thought, and that making a small adjustment to my daily lifestyle choices would help make big changes to achieving a greener future. The two big ways I saw this unfold in front of me was in my food and fashion choices.

A problem that I often encountered was trying to incorporate a greener, more sustainable diet. As a fairly active person, one of the things that put me off sustainable options was the lack of meat-free protein alternatives that were actually enjoyable. However, as time as gone on and the meat-free industry has started to revolutionise and innovate further I discovered a greater and more affordable variety of options that not only tasted great but, in some cases, better than the meat versions! Some of my favourites include the Vivera Vegan Shawarma and Richmond’s Meat-free sausages. My adventure into the world of sustainable eating on the recommendation of a friend quietly started to become part of my regular food shop and I even found myself trying more sustainable foods at restaurants compared to my usual orders. As a Muslim this was extra encouraging for me because I had to often choose the vegetarian options because there was a lack of halal choices. So, for me and I’m sure many Muslims, the greater availability of vegetarian alternatives has made the realm of food much more exciting in the UK than ever before! This gradual adjustment to incorporating an environmentally friendly diet occurred unconsciously simply because I found myself actually enjoying the alternatives, which is perhaps a testament to the improvements of meat-free products in recent times. I started to become more conscious of making more sustainable choices in my diet, seeking out plant-based recipes and trying them with friends. I will say that not all the alternatives are the best sometimes, banana peel pulled pork being an interesting experiment to say the least! I’ll be honest I haven’t totally committed to a meat-free lifestyle just yet and I still enjoy the foods I liked before, but I have faith in the growing variety and quality of sustainable alternatives that will allow me to enjoy and incorporate more into my diet. The main thing is, to make a growing conscious effort to transition to a more sustainable lifestyle helped me to realise that it wasn’t as hard as I thought!

Another example where I realised how sustainable practice was right in front of me was when it came to fashion. I, like many my age these days, enjoy wearing reworked clothes and clothes made using sustainable materials. I was already buying clothes from independent businesses that were committed to giving part of their profits towards greener causes. As someone who also sells clothes, I was naturally recycling old packaging, something that I didn’t even consciously realise was a sustainable practice in daily life. Personally I had shopped sporadically at so-called ‘fast fashion’ stores, and as I realised the environmental damage that was caused from over-shopping at these places I couldn’t help but naturally move towards buying more sustainable clothing, whether that was materials, reworked, or just second hand. All of a sudden alongside the wave of greater awareness of sustainable fashion I realised that I had subconsciously been practicing sustainability in my fashion as well, which like my journey with food made me realise that sustainable practice isn’t as difficult as I once thought.

Of course, it is worth noting that these actions are of small significance in the greater process – I am not claiming to have saved the planet because I had vegan food one time! Instead, the point I want to make is that sustainable practice in our daily lives is very much doable, and that every person that consciously makes an effort no matter how small keeps us all going in the right direction in reducing the damage we do to our environment. The ever-growing variety and quality of sustainable lifestyle options around us thanks to innovations in technology are helping make everyday activities more sustainable. The move towards electric vehicles for example is gradually becoming a norm for us (I don’t know about you, but I am seeing a lot more Tesla’s and charging ports nowadays!). I have also found that becoming more conscious in behaving sustainably can help others also realise that these small actions can collectively make a huge difference, particularly those who perhaps do not see the point as I was in a similar mindset not so long ago. Regularly reminding yourself for doing a small sustainable behaviour as doing a favour to the environment sounds odd, but you actually feel a lot better about yourself and the world around you! Consciously making sustainable choices and realising that it isn’t as difficult as we thought will help us all gradually transition to a greener future for us and generations to come, and this is particularly encouraging with the developments and innovations in the products that are available to us. As we have greater varieties, quality, and importantly accessibility to just as good if not better alternatives for our daily lives hopefully we can naturally incorporate sustainable practice into how we live our lives. The small mindset adjustment of “how can I help the environment” when making our lifestyle choices can make a powerful change to achieving a more sustainable society without us even realising.

Plastic Free July Inspired Films for Families

Cross posted from The Gulbenkian’s original blog

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Kick start environmental conversations with your family this Plastic Free July with our family film screenings of Moana and Ponyo!

In Moana, the daughter of a Polynesian Chief undertakes an oceanic odyssey to save her endangered isle from environmental devastation enlisting the aid of the legendary demigod Maui along the way. Moana and Maui’s quest to restore ecological balance and preserve traditional culture highlights how indigenous peoples are among those most impacted by global warming.

Talking Points: Protecting our land and indigenous tribes, climate change, and natural resources.

Book Tickets for Moana – Sun 18 July, 3pm

Fantastic for younger children, Ponyo is a colourful story of a little boy who befriends a magical fish, who evolves into a young girl.  An environmentalist twist on the little mermaid tale from Studio Ghibli, touching on themes of pollution, global warming, personal responsibility and rising sea levels.

Talking Points: Rising sea levels, climate change and pollution.

Book Tickets for Ponyo – Sun 25 July, 3pm

Find out more about Plastic Free July and how you can join the global movement to reduce plastic pollution so we can have cleaner streets, oceans and communities.

Also as we look ahead to the Tokyo Olympics, check out the new release Japanese animation Earwig and the Witch from the creators of Studio Ghibli favourites Spirited Away and My Neighbour Totoro.
Tickets for family film screenings are £3.50 / Baby on laps(0-18months) +£1

How Technology Can Support Environmental Activism

Guest post: Jane is the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co where she shares practical tips on how to live a greener life. 


Technology drives the modern age. Since the pandemic, we spend more time staring at screens than ever before. Laptops now help us access education safely from anywhere in the world.

The benefits of technology are evident, and individuals wonder how they may expand. When developing or supporting a social movement, many citizens turn to the web. Though this may present conflict, it also promotes community and action.

Slacktivism to Activism

Society once viewed social media-driven activism as “slacktivism.” The term derives from two words — activist and slacker. Individuals believed social media campaigns were lazy, supporting a cause through simple measures rather than true devotion.

The past few years proved a different use for social media in activism. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more exposed society to the harsh reality of the world.

Technology and Environmental Activism

The online environmental movement has significant effects. In the early years, corporations capitalized on eco-conscious development, spreading misinformation for profit. Cooperatives offer alternatives to proprietor-owned companies.

Rather than working to please investors, environmental cooperatives focus on their mission. They may work with individuals to generate beneficial change. Online spaces provide everyone with a place to speak, regardless of their financial background.

Social Media

Before social media, movements remained local. Today, they can become international overnight. A few tweets and posts generated a significant turnout at Standing Rock.

In 2016, the U.S. government announced plans to install a pipeline crossing the Missouri River. Officials mapped the pipeline route, allowing it to run beneath Lake Oahe. The lake is the Sioux Reservation’s primary water source, and an oil stream could pollute it, causing adverse environmental and health effects.

Individuals on and around the reservation used internet posts to gain the attention of environmental activists. They used #NoDAPL to signify the movement. People from all around the U.S. saw #NoDAPL tweets and posts, making the trip to the reservation with food, medical supplies and other aid.

Social media also provides a supportive space for individuals to connect and get help. At times protesting, researching and connecting can feel defeating. Online communities allow mental stress and isolation to dissipate.

Many environmental activists used social media to distribute a message in lockdown. Greta Thunberg planned a school strike on Earth Day in 2020, and, due to the pandemic, she asked individuals to remain inside. Rather than leaving school to protest, Greta took the day off virtual classes and raised environmental awareness online.

Various activists utilize education, exposing society to ecological degradation. Many people use Facebook live and IGTV to share their values and goals, influencing others to volunteer in local protests. This technique displayed success through the recent Black Lives Matter protests.

Film

Video technology exposes individuals everywhere to environmental degradation. Film experts developed the documentary “Chasing Coral” to expose marine damage caused by climate change. The video shows footage of global coral bleaching.

When coral experiences stress from temperature, light or nutrient changes, it expels algae and turns white. The degression leaves it susceptible to disease and death. “Chasing Coral” offers suggestions for lowering society’s contribution to the issue.

Another documentary, “RiverBlue,” breaks the Not In My Backyard (NIMBY) wall between fashion consumption and production. The fast fashion industry contaminates 70% of freshwater sources in China. “RiverBlue” explores various regions of Asia, exposing the harm our blind purchases cause.

Another river in Bangladesh located near textile mills and leather tanneries holds the record for most localized pollution. Tanneries utilize harsh chemicals, disrupting the nervous systems and hormones of workers. Few individuals know of these environmental harms when they go shopping. Filmmakers use powerful footage to expose society and promote a response.

Online Voting

The pandemic generated the e-ballot era. Some people preferred to vote from their laptops or phones rather than in person. Though online petitions may lack government legitimacy, they gain success in other realms.

Online petitions successfully raise environmental awareness. Coupling this activism method with community outreach programs, protests, phone calls, organized media campaigns and more can create change. It also helps those without voting rights have a say.

Small Actions, Big Impacts

We are past the days of slacktivism, finding various uses for technology in environmental activism. Though some of the online efforts appear small, together, they generate a significant impact. Like Bernie Sanders and Greta Thunberg, many individuals successfully increase climate awareness and reach voters using technology.