Go Green Week 2011

This week students across the UK are showcasing creative and practical activities that promote sustainable living, such as veggie food feasts, grow-your-own workshops, cycle clinics and swap shops

Organised by student campaigning group People & Planet, and also involving university staff and student unions, Go Green Week is an annual national event involving 100s of schools, colleges and universities. It aims to raise awareness of the simple yet important changes that we can all make to reduce our carbon footprint and tackle climate change.

Falling so close to Valentines Day, the theme for this year’s Go Green Week is Love your Future, Love your Climate. Students will be getting steamy with ‘carbon speed-dating’ events, which put a fun twist on speed-dating by matching up people according to their carbon footprints.

“The idea with these events is to engage students who wouldn’t normally get involved in green stuff,” explained Alice Hemming, climate campaigns and activism co-ordinator at People & Planet. “Finding out your carbon footprint and sharing it with someone else can be a great conversation starter – and just imagine the low-carbon date opportunities if you find your carbon soulmate! Candlelit veggie dinners, a long walk or cycle ride for two, or a Can Film Festival romantic movieÖ”

A popular scheme during last year’s Go Green Week, Can Film Festivals give people the chance to see a film for free, in exchange for bringing along empty drinks cans for recycling.

“The benefit of Go Green Week is that it brings together people from all over the university who wouldn’t necessarily be involved in green issues,” said Jesse Scharf, a member of People & Planet at Roehampton University, who is organising a Can Film Festival.

By putting on events which are fun, accessible and rewarding we can reach out beyond the usual eco-suspects.”

People and Planet believe that by showing commitment to reducing their carbon footprints, students can put pressure on their institutions to make the transition to a low-carbon, future-proof education sector. Education institutions can play a key role, the group said, in tackling climate change and challenging unsustainable behaviour patterns.

Kerry Horvath, a staff member at London South Bank University, agreed: “If enough students change their behaviour collectively we can have a big impact on our institution’s carbon footprint. With support from students during Go Green Week we can raise the university’s environmental profile and positively contribute to its carbon reduction plans.”