Studying biology as a 2nd year at Brasenose, people often expect that I go absolutely nuts about the environment – and I am glad to say, that is one cliché I am happy to live up to. Having acted as the college’s environments rep for two terms now, I have been able to see all the efforts we put into reducing our impact on the environment. Even though we’re not perfect, it’s inspiring to see how many people are willing to change and get involved in sustainability projects.
Year after year, Brasenose students and staff come together to make the college a more environmentally friendly place – and 3rd term is when all our efforts come to fruition. We have just won the intercollegiate Student Switch Off competition, promoting reduction of energy consumption and waste production. Thirteen great ambassadors got undergraduates and graduates alike to boil less water in the kettle, turn off room heating, carry reusable bottles and separate food, recycling and normal waste. As a result, we will be rewarded a grand prize of £250 for our summer Garden Party!
Other schemes, like Green Impact, have inspired us to think bigger. We are hoping to soon get recycling bins in the college quads, pass a motion on fossil fuel divestment and install all recyclable paper in student printers. We are also aspiring to get the wider Brasenose community involved: we have organized a Veggie Formal (a nice vegetarian three-course meal in our beautiful Hall) to take place in the next few weeks, and are planning to buy eco-trashing products students may use to “trash” their friends at the end of their exams – without the cost of harming the environment. Having joined the Green Impact team 3 years ago and slowly crawling up the ranks from Bronze to Silver, Brasenose is finally aiming for Gold!
If you prefer to not get actively involved and are simply interested in understanding the environmental issues we face today, there are many opportunities for that as well. Oxford Waste, Climate and Energy Societies hold weekly meetings, inviting passionate and inspiring speakers from around Oxford and the World to enlighten us on everything from off-shore wind energy and recycling coffee grounds as biofuel, as well as putting on David Attenborough film nights.
The most important thing to remember is that although university life is hectic, it is always possible to make small efforts towards being more sustainable – it’s not a chore, but an opportunity to come together and help the environment. At Brasenose, I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by people that are so supportive of my keen green bean attitude. This community has helped me cultivate my passion for the environment, and I now see myself having taken on more responsibility and having accomplished so much more than I would have ever thought possible. I can only look forward to future steps Brasenose will take to become the eco-friendliest college in Oxford!
By Margot Greenen (French & American 2nd Year student, reading Biological Sciences)