From swapping single-use plastic cutlery for more sustainable options to reducing the number of plastic drink bottles in their fridges, staff and students at Stockton Riverside College Group are joining a global movement to help tackle plastic pollution.
The college, which incorporates Stockton Riverside College, Redcar and Cleveland College, Bede Sixth Form College, NETA Training and The Skills Academy, is pledging to reduce its carbon footprint by improving sustainability, increasing recycling and cutting back on general waste and energy consumption.
Keen to inspire others to do the same, the college’s head of estates Kimberly Stevenson said: “These are just our first steps. Our aim is to raise awareness of environmental issues and make people consider the role that they can play in creating a better environment for all.
“As a college we have the potential to reach a lot of people through our students. It is all about creating good habits.”
Changes so far across the college group have included swapping disposable plastic knives and forks for more biodegradable alternatives throughout the canteens, promotional bags and pens are being replaced with paper and cardboard options and reusable bamboo coffee cups are now available to buy, cutting back on the use of disposable cups.
The college is also encouraging school leavers and potential students to reuse, return or recycle the college’s course guide with the introduction of a freepost returnable option and with community litter picks in the pipeline the plan is to help spread the word.
Kimberly said: “For us this is just the start and there is much more to come. At the college we are looking at our energy usage, our carbon emissions and waste across all of our sites. This is so important, not just for us but for future generations, that’s why we are taking responsibility to improve sustainability, playing our part whilst also helping to educate others.”
Want to make a change? Here’s five ways that the college’s newly formed Green Initiatives Group is helping to reduce its carbon footprint and simple suggestions for how you can do the same…
1. Stockton Riverside College Group is swapping disposable plastic knives and forks for biodegradable wooden alternatives throughout the college canteens.
What you can do… Say no to single-use plastic. When grabbing a bite to eat on the run always choose reusable cutlery or more sustainable options.
2. Promotional bags and pens are now being replaced with paper and cardboard alternatives.
What you can do… Think twice when you are out shopping and always choose eco-friendly and recyclable alternatives. Don’t forget your reusable shopping bags and remember recycle, recycle, recycle.
3. School leavers and potential students are being urged to read and pass on the college’s course guides, with the introduction of a new freepost returnable option to ensure prospectuses are returned, reused and/or recycled.
What you can do… Follow the college’s lead and share books and magazines among friends and family. Or do your bit for a good cause and pass them on to charity shops or your local library.
4. Students can now save money on their hot drinks as the college has introduced reusable bamboo coffee cups to buy as an alternative to single use/disposable cups.
What you can do… Look out for special offers in cafes and coffee shops where many offer a similar scheme offering money off to those with their own reusable cup. Not only are you helping to save the planet but you can save a few pennies too.
5. Staff and students are planning their own cross campus clean up, inviting everyone to help make the college’s surrounding communities cleaner.
What you can do… Play your part in your local community and sign up to a litter pick. Can’t find one? Gather friends, family and neighbours together and organise your own.
Plastic Free July is a global movement urging millions of people to refuse single-use plastic and become part of the solution to plastic pollution. To find out more visit: www.plasticfreejuly.org/