Go Green Week gathers moss across campus

Warwick People and Planet have held their second annual Go Green Week to raise environmental awareness on campus.

Other universities such as Cardiff, Durham, UCL and York have also organised similar Go Green Weeks, in what People and Planet have called the “largest nationwide student-led environmental campaign.”

Events throughout the week at Warwick included a fashion show involving clothes made out of recycled carrier bags, a green-themed Top Banana, debates, a free vegan lunch and a poetry slam.

The Piazza, despite being partially closed due to the latest stage of the Union rebuild, saw a wide range of activities events including a Dr. Bike surgery offering free bicycle repairs, an acoustic music performance and a farmer’s market.

Co-organiser Paul Myles said he was pleased with the how the week had gone, calling it a “success,” and said that the aim this year was to broaden appeal to “mainstream students” and to demonstrate to them that “green can also be fun.”

Green issues “touch upon all subjects,” he said, “and students are going to be required to be green literate in the jobs market as companies start to become greener and more environmentally aware.”

The Make Your Plastic Look Fantastic fashion show involved clothes modelled and designed by students that were made entirely out of carrier bags.

Event organiser Francesca Morgante said, “it was fresh start to the week and an original way to celebrate a victory with Costcutter.”

She admitted it “was quite stressful to put together but in the end it was worth it…. People seemed to enjoy it.”

Green Banana saw event organisers collect students’ discarded plastic cups and then spread them across the Piazza to demonstrate how many were used in a typical union night.

Jess Raw, the Students’ Union Environment Campaigns Officer, said that the cups were collected over a two hour period, and that the amount was “staggering.”

“We managed to cover most of the Piazza that isn’t closed due to the rebuild,” she said, “and it is just one example of how the Union needs to consider greener alternatives.”

A well-attended discussion featuring representatives from Christian Aid, Friends of The Earth, the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats gave students the opportunity to debate and discuss a wide range of issues.

It was chaired by Andrew Bradley, who joked that it was his “first official event” since winning the SU Presidential elections last week.

Chris Crean, the representative from Friends of The Earth and their local Campaigns Co-Ordinator, said that his generation had “failed” to deal with the environmental “crisis.”

“It is up to your generation to save the planet,” he told students. “My generation have ignored the issue for far too long, but you can continue what we have started.”

A suggestion by Scott Redding, a local Green Party Parliamentary candidate for reducing speed the limit on motorways to 50mph was met with little support.

Tim Hodgson, the Solihull Council Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Community Services and Environment and also a first year Politics student at Warwick told Redding that such plans were “unfair” and “unworkable.”

“During an economic crisis,” he said, “we can’t expect to slow down traffic and create delays.

We should instead look at ways to dramatically reduce our own carbon footprints – using energy saving bulbs, or taking the bus or train more often.”

The Dr. Bike surgery, offering students the chance to have their bike repaired for free also proved popular. Other universities have had similar success with the same scheme.

Raw, commenting as the Dr. Bike event was ending, said that it had been “fantastic.”

“Loads of students have come and had their bikes repaired for free,” she said, “and it has been a great success.”

University spokesman Peter Dunn told the Boar that “while [the university] welcomes Go Green Week,” the university was “active in these areas all year long.”

In a recent evaluation of universities however, the national People and Planet organisation rated Warwick joint fiftieth in their Green League for Environmental Performance table, placing them in the ‘2:2 – must try harder’ section.

According to People and Planet, the environmental performance of universities rated as a 2:2 “cannot be considered satisfactory.”

A petition calling on the University to continue to improve recycling facilities, and demanding that “matches its Green League Table ranking with its ranking in the 2009 Guardian League Table (fourth),” also attracted over one thousand signatures.

The University refused to comment directly about the league table, but pointed out that it has a full time environment officer, dedicated to making Warwick a greener, energy saving campus.

Myles said that the University and the Union had a “responsibility” to encourage students to reduce energy consumption and look for ways to conserve resources.

Bradley described Warwick’s position in the league table was “disappointing,” and that he hoped to work closely with the University next year to try and find ways to save energy.

The major result from the week, from the Go Green perspective, was that Costcutter has agreed to phase out carrier bags in favour of more environmentally sound Bags for Life.

Myles said that there were plans to campaign for such a move during Go Green Week, but Costcutters “realised that they would be pressured into doing so,” and had made the decision before the campaign began.

It was an “excellent” outcome, he said, and proof that “raising green issues gets results.”

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