The Student Union has long believed that we should treat the wonderful world around us with care and respect and that our global peers should be shown empathy and understanding in both business and personal communication and transactions. To that end we have an environmental policy in place to ensure that our ‘green ethics’ are found throughout the heart of the organisation and in all the actions of our staff and officers.
Each year, to put our ‘green ethics’ to the test, Winchester Student Union enters the Green Impact Awards. The awards are organised by the National Union of Students, to rate and reward best ethical and environmental practice.
The first year we entered we were awarded a bronze rating in 2008. In 2009 we achieved a Silver rating and were ranked 13th out of all of the Unions who entered. In 2010 we were delighted that we achieved one of only five Gold awards and were ranked 2nd out of the 88 unions that entered, with only Edinburgh Student Union beating us. In 2011 & 2012 our Green credentials were firmly established when we once again won a Gold standard and improved our overall score by more than a hundred points. Last year, we again entered the awards, but for Green Impact Excellence, a yearlong project to identify and improve the biodiversity of our campus. Unfortunately, we did not complete this project on time, and is still currently ongoing.
The framework of Green Impact has dramatically changed since first entering in 2008. Student Unions are now given ‘Good’, ‘Very Good’, or ‘Excellent’ statuses depending on how many pieces of criteria are completed and how many extra points are gained. This year we have entered and have submitted the workbook (toolkit) with the expectation of gaining a ‘Good’ status. Next year, we’d like to move on and aim for ‘Very Good’.
Alongside our other green ethics activities, we have also worked with the University of Winchester to ensure that we have a wide range of fairly traded and ethical sound products available to purchase on campus. In 2008, we were awarded Fairtrade University status and our work was also instrumental in helping the city of Winchester reach Fairtrade status in 2009.
We take an active role in the Universities Fresher’s Fortnight events and celebrations and continue to strive to ensure that we remain a strong force for driving ethical purchasing on campus and in the city of Winchester.
The student union continues to raise its Ethical and Fairtrade standards each and every year. Some of our long term goals include having more Fairtrade products in our shops, and Fairtrade uniforms for all staff members, including the exec team.
Winchester Student Union is an active supporter of many ethical and environmental initiatives beyond the activity we directly organise.
These include the NUS led campaign Snap It Off which encourages our students to identify lights and equipment left on campus unnecessarily by snapping a photo of the offending light/device. It also includes the inter-hall energy saving competition Student Switch Off. For the latter the Student Union provides many prizes including free tickets to the Summer Ball for the winning student accommodation that uses the least energy in halls.
For more information on Snap it Off and Student Switch Off please see the resources pages.
From 2016, the Union has continued to work with the university on these projects, but has expanded its support with initiatives such as Blackout, Dissertations for Good, and the University’s Green Impact Award audits at the end of the year. 2016 also saw the first collaboration with the university for GO Green Week in November. This campaigning week provided students with a variety of activities and events to get stuck into such as vegan food tasting, pond clearance, bike auction, a green café and much more!
For more information on Blackout, Dissertations for Good and Green Week, please see the resources section.
In addition to this the Student Union has been directly involved with the development of the university’s new ‘Climate Change’ curriculum and has been solely responsible for encouraging the university to take part in the NUS initiative Responsible Futures. The student union felt that the initiative would be a good starting point for the university and its staff, to ensure that the there was a true understanding towards environmental issues and sustainability, before any decisions were made about implementing sustainability into all degrees across the board.
For more information on the University’s plans on ‘Climate Change Education’ and ‘Responsible Futures’, please see the resources section.
The Union also continues to work closely with the university and its Environment & Estates team, to ensure that our student’s ideas and voices are heard with respect to the Environmental impact that the university has upon the planet.
Since this relationship development, the Union has started work on a variety of ongoing projects which promote student involvement and sustainability.
One of the main goals for the Ethical & Environmental Officer of 16/17 was to create a sustainable food enterprise on the terrace bar roof and surrounding areas. This is still very much ongoing and is currently in the process of being costed. For more information on this project please see the resources section.
If you want to know more about the work we do or have any ideas or suggestions on how we could do more to ‘green’ the campus or better or ethical practices, then please drop us an email to SU_environment@winchester.ac.uk or follow our Ethical & Environmental Officer on Twitter.
You can also see our current Ethical & Environmental Officer's blog and information pages