#sustainabilitysaturday No15

Coronavirus and sustainability?

Hi guys, yet another #sustainabilitysaturday that is actually a Sunday. We hope you forgive us.

With all the panic around coronavirus we obviously had to say something on here.
Let’s divide this up into 3 parts:

1. Should we panic or should we not?
With different countries handling the situation differently and with all the contradicting or misleading information out there it can be hard to know what to do. Obviously we are not qualified to give out any specific advice, but we think it’s important to find the balance between freaking out/overreacting and ignoring everything that is going on.
While those of us that are young and healthy may not be at an immediate risk, we have to consider those who could be more affected by it. Just because our lives aren’t under threat doesn’t mean it should not be taken seriously. It could be anyone’s grandma or uncle, but this shouldn’t be have to the point, no one should have to die from this anyway.

2. But what about the environment?
So, a load of people on the internet have used this as an excuse to promote what is essentially ecofascism (Ecofascism is a theoretical political model in which an authoritarian government would require individuals to sacrifice their own interests to the “organic whole of nature” – see Wikipedia), and we want to use this space to say that we, as a society, do NOT stand for it. Saving our environment, stopping climate change and making the planet more sustainable should not be happening at the expense of people dying. In the end, even if the population was drastically reduced because of this virus, the system we are living in would still be the same and it is this highly profit-orientated, capitalist, colonial and consumerist system that is causing climate change in the first place. It wouldn’t change anything in the long-term and, most importantly, people would have DIED. So, everyone show some compassion and respect the seriousness of the situation. When in doubt, ask your Italian friends if they think it’s “not serious” or “funny”.

3. What can we do now?
Since the UK hasn’t implemented any nationwide restrictions as other countries have done, all we can do as individuals is just to be mindful and follow the official suggestions (wash your hands, rest at home if you’re unwell, avoid big crowds etc).
However, we do have some tips on things everyone can do in this time of uncertainty and panic:
– Don’t buy up all the groceries and toilet paper. Not everyone is in the position to afford buying weeks or month’s worth of groceries, so be considerate and only buy what you really need for the next week or 2.
– Before you do go shopping, look into your fridge and pantry to see what you have and get creative. This might be a good time to experiment in the kitchen and work with what you have. Avoid food waste and leave groceries for those that need it.
– Check out your nearest food banks and donate a few things. With this panic and everyone hoarding mountains of food at home, more vulnerable people might get overlooked and receive even less donations than usual.
– Ask around in your building/street or amongst your family/ friends if anyone needs something from the shops. Maybe there is an older person living in your building, to scared to go outside? Offering just running a little errand like that might cost you an hour but help them out a lot.
– Don’t be racist. Support small, local businesses where and when you can, but especially Chinese restaurants/takeaways/shops.
– Don’t panic about not living so “sustainably” anymore. Until this is under control, there is just going to be a need for more disposable items to maintain health and safety standards and we think it is important to not dwell on it. We have to prioritise slowing the pandemic down and once the situation has improved, we can pick right up where we left it and go back to our reusable tissues (obviously this still means we should be mindful, no need to go through 5 bottles of hand sanitizers and 3 packs of tissues per day if you’re inside and at home).
– Lastly, try not to let this pandemic take over your life. Keep yourself informed, but also make sure your mental health isn’t suffering from the self-isolation and the constant bad news. If you’re lucky enough to be at home and you don’t have to worry about losing money or falling ill, then use this time to read, watch movies or TV series, get creative and cook, paint or write.

We hope this post helped some of you. Stay safe!

Heriot-Watt Sustainability Society

#sustainabilitysaturday No14

Hi everyone, welcome back to our Sustainability Saturday, many apologies for missing it last week and also it seems to be turning into a Sustainability Sunday as we’re all getting busier with deadlines coming up. 

This week we’re looking at travel, following on from number 11, a few weeks ago, which looked at flights in particular. We are living in a very special, lucky time right now; anything you can think of that is now a standard in everyday life was at some point new but we now take them for granted. Long gone are the days of rationing for food or trading food for other goods because we can now just pop down to the supermarket and get the food we need instantly and even in the extact portions we need in some cases. Now in the 21st century we are living through the fast, ever growing rate of technology, things are seeming to be getting easier and better all over the world.

Unfortunately, that will not be the case for ever. I’m sure most people are aware of how coal and oil are bad for the environment. When they are burned for fuel, they release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which causes air pollution and destroys the all important ozone layer. But that’s not the only problem. There is a finite amount of each of them on Earth and once we use it all up, it takes a very, very long time for any to form again. Not only that, as we use it up, the price of coal and oil will keep increasing so petrol and diesel will become more expensive and so will flights abroad. Eventually only the rich percentage of people will be able to afford to fly or drive petrol or diesel cars, which is how it used to be, but then even those people won’t be able to afford it.

So far, renewable energy and battery power is not strong enough to fly planes a substantial distance but maybe one day it will happen. Until then everyone might have to start going on holiday in their own country. As for cars, there are already a lot electric cars out there and there will soon be as many charging points at petrol stations, if there aren’t already, and they are becoming more and more affordable so there is no excuse not to switch to electric cars right now, or atleast a hybrid.

Is this all bad new? Of course not! Yes it means missing out on the fabulous trip to Mallorca for the 44th year in a row but for those in Scotland, we live in an absolutely beautiful country, there are loads of places to go on holiday! For example, there is a road called the North 500 which goes from the North West to the North East of Scotland. It’s a stunning route so alot of people just go for the drive but it has an abundance of places to visit and stay all along it like Inverewe. It also has plenty of charging points along it so you can take an electric car and not be worried to be stuck there.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact us

Happy sustainabl-er living,

Heriot-Watt Sustainability Society

#sustainabilitysaturday No13

Vegan doesn’t mean sustainable

Hello Folks,

This week’s sustainability Saturday is actually a Sunday, hopefully you will forgive us!

Previously we have spoken about the impact that meat consumption can have on the planet, but today we want to consider certain sustainability issues we find in meat-free diets. While it is clear that cutting meat from the diet is a good choice for many people to cut their climate impact, the replacements aren’t always good for your health or for the planet. 

The argument for Veganism often tends to focus on animal emissions, quite correctly as the livestock sector produces 18% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions as well as using 25% of global land coverage for grazing space.  However, some of our favourite vegan foods can also cause harmful impacts on the planet which we might not realise.

One which may be a surprise is Tofu.  We know that a lot of soy production in the world is linked to deforestation of rainforests, not through our consumption but for the feeding of livestock.  However, tofu needs a lot of processing which can add a lot to its environmental impact when we take into consideration the amount we need to eat to get the same nutritional value as meat products.  We can mitigate our impact by first making sure our soya milk is produced using European soya so we can avoid rainforest deforestation and swapping to other legumes in place of soya beans. 

Next up is Avocados.  Most people are aware now that avocados are not the most sustainable lunch item due to the fact that they require a lot of water to produce.  In addition, they come from countries in South America, but they are consumed in countries far from here so there are large emissions associated with their transport.  Swapping to foods with a similar nutritional value produced closer to home and more fair trade options which avoid producing droughts and causing deforestation

A huge part of the vegan diet consists of various nuts such as almonds and cashews.  We all know the impacts of almonds with one almond requiring 12 litres of water to produce and 80% of almond production occurring in California where there are some serious problems with water shortages and droughts.  Furthermore, certain pesticides and fungicides used in the production of almonds are harmful to the bee populations which are essential in our ecosystem.  Another nut which is problematic is cashew nuts.  The majority of cashew nuts are produced in India, where workers are tasked with cracking open the shells to get to the nut inside.  These workers are paid by the kilogram, so need to work fast, leading them to avoid wearing gloves a lot of the time.  Inside the shells, there are Anacardic acids, which can cause a painful skin rash.  Swapping to nuts grown closer to home such as hazelnuts, walnuts, and chestnuts can cut environmental and ethical impacts of our diets.

Reducing our meat intake is a good way to reduce our environmental impacts, but for vegans and meat-eaters alike, we should consider the impact of these and other foods which we eat and consider some alternatives to help us live more sustainably. 

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact us

Happy sustainabl-er living,

Heriot-Watt Sustainability Society

#sustainabilitysaturday No12

Living and shopping sustainably in Edinburgh

Hi guys,

Today we just want to pop into to give you our top tips on where to go in Edinburgh if you’re looking to reduce the amount of waste you create. So if you’re fed up with stuff being wrapped in plastic, have a look if one of these options is near you.

1) The Eco Larder
One of the first zero-waste shops in Edinburgh, this little gem near Haymarket stocks almost everything you could possibly need. From fresh and local fruits and veggies, oats, grains, pasta, legumes, pulses, teas, oils and soy sauce to homemade oat milk, sweets and snacks. They also have a cow’s milk dispenser so if you’re not ready to give up cow’s milk yet but want to avoid the plastic cartons, bring an empty bottle and fill it up here. You can also find other everyday items without packaging or with reusable and recycled packaging, such as tooth paste tablets or shampoo bars and toilet paper.

200 Morrison St, Edinburgh EH3 8EB

2) Weigh To Go
This lovely shop at the top of Leith Walk provides you with all the eco-friendly goods you need on a day-to-day basis. You can get your usual rice and pasta and beans, but they often also have cakes and homemade chocolate truffles and other delicacies from local businesses. Oh and you can fulfil your peanut butter cravings, as they can make roasted peanut butter to order.

27 Crighton Pl, Edinburgh EH7 4NY

3) The Refillery
If you’re near in the Newington area and need to stock up on all things zero-waste, head over to The Refillery. They are just celebrating their one-year anniversary and are a fabulous place to get everything you need. From fresh produce to dried goods and even freshly baked bread, come with your containers, weigh them and start shopping.

39 Newington Rd, Newington, Edinburgh EH9 1QW

4) The New-leaf Coop
Super close to the Meadows is this wee shop. Apart from the usual dried goods and plastic-free produce, they supply refillable cleaning products for your home and aim to source most of their items from local businesses.

23 Argyle Pl, Edinburgh EH9 1JJ

5) The Zero Waste Corner
This little shop was opened only a couple of months ago by the Edinburgh University Students Association. It is a fabulous initiative for Edinburgh Uni students and others to have the chance of buying things in bulk on campus.

David Hume Tower, George Square, Newington, Edinburgh EH8 9JX

6) The Good Store
If you live in the North of Edinburgh and have so far thought that you need to be in the city centre to get your hand on bulk items, fear not. There is this wonderful option near you. Founded by two sisters, this independent shop provides you with everything you need for your kitchen, bathroom and the rest of the house.

13 Montagu Terrace, Edinburgh EH3 5QX

7) Real Foods and Scotmid Co-op
While none of these two is specifically a zero-waste shop, both have some dried goods that you can refill, and in Real Foods you can even get cleaning liquids, shampoo and conditioner refilled. Real Food also aims to use as much compostable packaging as possible. While not every Scotmid Co-op has a bulk section, it is certainly nice to see one of the supermarkets jump on the train and as always we hope that it gets rolled out to other shops, the more people use it.

Real Foods: 8 Brougham St, Edinburgh EH3 9JH
Scotmid Co-op: 36-38 Raeburn Pl, Stockbridge, Edinburgh EH4 1HX

8) Farmers Markets and Veggie Boxes
Other ways to get your hands on plastic free food is by checking out the local farmers market (if you can), which in Edinburgh is the Edinburgh Farmers’ Market on Castle Terrace, every Saturday from 9AM till 2PM.

Another option is to get a subscription for a fruit and/or veg box. Mostly, these will be filled with fresh, organic, local and seasonal produce and come with little to no packaging. Within Edinburgh, there are several companies that offer this option, such as:

http://www.petesfarmrun.com/organic-veg-boxes/

https://www.phantassie.co.uk/vegboxes.html

https://www.eastcoastorganics.co.uk/boxmaster_ecobox_box_setup_wizard/choose_box

https://www.growwild.co.uk/

https://glasgowlocavore.org/

We hoped these tips helped you find some accessible options!

Happy saturday,

Herio-Watt Sustainability Society

#sustainabilitysaturday No11

£10 return flights or going flight free?

Hi everyone,
We just realised we’ve done ten blog posts and none of them even mentioned sustainability and travelling. How silly of us. Well, the wait is finally over. Here is our take on the topic and our top tips for travelling.

As probably most of you know by now, flying is pretty bad for the environment. There is more and more people pledging to go #flightfree for 2020 and we think this is a great thing to do – if you can! But just like most things in life, there is nuance to it.

If you don’t live near your family and want to go and see them a few times a year, of course you should be allowed to book a flight without being judged for it. If you are a student and you only have a week to go and visit your friends or family, but taking the train/bus would take a whole day each way and is 3 times the price, then it is completely understandable if you choose to fly. If you work all year round and need a holiday on the other side of the world to take some time off and recharge, go for it. In our opinion, these are not the people that should be called out or made to feel guilty.

We think, it is much more important to try and talk to people that get on those £10 Ryanair flights every other weekend, “just because it was a tenner.” Flying for the sake of flying is really not necessary, especially since it is becoming harder and harder to tackle climate change. If you really want to do something different and take a mini vacation, why not see if there is a place close to you that you haven’t visited yet and that you can reach by train or coach. Make it a day trip or even spend the night there and find out more about your local area.

It is also important to try and change the behaviour for work-related travels. We probably all know someone or have heard of someone who lives in place A and works in place B (which might be in a different country) and commutes between the two places once or twice a week. We know that this is probably a stressful situation anyway and not everyone chooses to do so (maybe there are no job opportunities where you live), but we strongly recommend people to consider the impact this has on the environment. An extreme example for this would be the story one of us heard from a friend, whose manager flies from their home in Mallorca to go to work in Germany on a Monday morning and flies back home on a Friday. If you really want to live abroad, firstly try and find a job there. If you can’t, maybe there is an option to work remotely? With everything being so connected nowadays, there’s more and more job opportunities like that available. If you have any meetings, can you do them via skype, or do you really need to be present? These are just some thoughts we’ve had on this topic.

However, we want to say that it should really be governments and big companies driving the change, as always. If you live somewhere where most of the time it is more expensive to take the 5-hour train than to get on a 2-hour flight (i.e. Edinburgh -London), then there is not much you can do. You can’t expect everyone to go for the more expensive option, if the other one is cheaper and more convenient. It is a very privileged choice. We think that flying, especially within Europe, should really be more expensive to correctly reflect the damage it does to the environment. However, this is, once again, up to those in charge. All we can do is try and opt for the environmentally friendly option whenever and wherever possible and hope that those little changes we make will help and drive up the demand for sustainable public transport that is more accessible for everyone.

So, our tips summarised:
– If you can, avoid flying (if you have the means/time to do so)
– If you have to fly, make sure it is for a good purpose and not just for the sake of flying
– If you book a flight, always calculate your emissions and look for a way to offset them (for example on pages like theis one: https://www.myclimate.org/carbon-offset/ )
– Finally, try and talk to people and see if you can maybe help shift their view on flying. But do it gently. No one likes to be called out.

Let us know your thoughts on this topic.
Happy sustainabl-er living,

Heriot-Watt Sustainability Society

#sustainabalitysaturday No10

Recycling, biodegradable and other myths

Hi folks,

Another week, another Sustainability Saturday. Today we are finally tackling one of the topic that we are most passionate about: waste.
We have put this off for a while since it is such a complex topic, but today is the day (what better day to talk about rubbish than on the first day of an independent Britain. sorry, we had to.)

This post will be divided into three parts, landfill, recycling and food waste, so let’s start with the most obvious one: landfill.
As we are probably all aware by now, we are running out of space for all the waste that we are creating. For decades we have been shipping our waste to other countries, such as China and Malaysia, which were paid to “store it.” This was obviously not an ideal solution, as most waste, when stored in landfills, emits toxic gases (mainly methane and CO2) which then end up in the atmosphere. With more and more countries now rejecting to take the immense amounts of rubbish created by the western world, we are pressed for urgent solutions. Producing the same amount of waste, or even more, is no longer an option.

The next important topic is recycling. We all know someone who, when asked about environmental issues, replies with “but I recycle.” Don’t worry, most of us probably thought like that for a while. It is not until you actively inform yourself on this issue, that you realise how little help recycling is in fighting waste pollution. While the idea of recycling itself is great, the practice is not. There are so many different types of recyclable materials and so many different recycling bins, that the average household probably doesn’t know for sure where to dispose of what. Did you know, for example, that many recyclable items that have food waste on them or liquid in them, will be rejected and therefore not recycled. If any of those are in a recycling bin, or any non-recyclable materials, the entire content of the bin will be classed as contaminated and most likely diverted to landfill. If you think about how often you weren’t sure if something was really recyclable or not, you will realise how big an issue this is.
So please, read the labels, check your local council bins, inform yourself and then everyone around you. P.s.: If you are, like us, a student at Heriot-Watt University, please know that it is in fact the uni that has to pay fines if the recycling bins are contaminated.

https://heriotwattecosociety.files.wordpress.com/2020/02/77d23-recycling-label.jpg

Finally, let’s talk about food waste bins. This is probably one of the more positive parts of our waste-disposal system here in the UK. Our food waste, when collected, is stored under special conditions to compost the content and then reused as compost for plants. Naturally, this is only possible if all items in the food waste bins are organic materials (otherwise it will either be rejected or, if missed, sit in the compost and just not decompose). This also leads us to another issue that is quite common today. Many businesses now offer plastic alternatives, such as biodegradable or compostable containers and cutlery, but is this really the solution? The problem with these is that first of all, most people are unaware of the difference between biodegradable and compostable and therefore use them interchangeably. Biodegradable means that the item will degrade over time, but there is no specific time limit. This means it could be years or even decades until it does. Compostable is an artificial process of biodegradation, that is sped up by humans. You can’t put any biodegradable items in your household food waste or compost, as it needs to be composted under certain conditions that only industrial waste plants are capable of. If takeaway cups or cutlery are compostable, people will either ignore it and just waste it in general waste bins or they sometimes even just dispose off it in nature, thinking that it will “naturally decompose”. This means that, although with good intentions, switching to those as an alternative does not automatically lead to less waste overall. We think that, in an ideal world, the best options for coffee shops, restaurants and takeaways etc would therefore be to only offer either sit-in or takeaway with reusable containers/ cutlery. Like we said, this is the ideal scenario and we don’t expect it to happen overnight, but we hope that maybe one day we can get there.

All these issues are reasons why more and more scientists, environmental experts and also many citizens are demanding a shift away from the current take-make-dispose system and towards a circular economy, where everything produced gets reused, re-purposed and recycled. This, however, is much more complex than it seems. Although most of the technology needed for this shift seem to exist already, it is up to two main factors to achieve it: firstly, we need to change the way we consume things. We need to stop the idea that everyone needs brand new things all the time. If something is still working, keep using it. If something is broken, find a way to fix it. If something is beyond repair, inform yourself where you can best dispose off it so the materials get recycled completely. The second factor is the industry and big corporations and companies. Unless there are incentives for them to change to more environmentally friendly options, most will probably refuse to do so (as most have already done the last decades). Unless they’re sure they won’t miss out on profits by switching to the eco-friendly options, producing less waste, this change won’t happen. And that’s why it is equally important for us to keep doing every little thing we can within the current system that we’re in and to keep demanding change. We should never punch down on those who can’t do any better, but we can always punch up and request that those who are in a position to change, do so.

Ooft, that was a long post. If you read until the end, thanks so much! We hope you learnt something, as always. Until next time!
Heriot-Watt Sustainability Society

#sustainabilitysaturday No9

Our Privilege

Hello guys and welcome back!

We’re excited to start a new year of living more consciously and have some fun and interesting things planned for this semester.


Today we want to talk about privilege with regards to sustainability and global warming. We’re guessing from the fact that you’re reading this blog, you have some interest in living in a more sustainable way and that’s hugely important and, undeniably, a good thing. However, we also have to acknowledge our privilege in this sense.


Firstly, let’s say you do all those things that are considered good practice. You try and buy veggies packaging-free to avoid unnecessary waste, you try and fly less and you buy organic and local and seasonal etc. The fact alone that we have the option to do that is a privilege. Not everyone has access to farmer’s markets or bulk shops. Not everyone can afford organic or local food. Most of this has to do with our socio-economic status.While it is good that those of us who can afford to do these things, do so, we should always keep in mind that it is a privilege and that, until the system we are living in changes, it cannot be expected or demanded of everyone and that no one should be judged or shamed for not doing so.

The next point also deals with privilege, but with white privilege in particular. When you look for tips on sustainable living or climate activism online, the overwhelming majority of search results will be from white people, but why is this a problem? Being sustainable is nowadays a very middle-class, privileged thing that is almost “in fashion”. When we just accept that, however, we omit the thousands and millions of indigenous people and people of colour for who living closer to nature and living without harming our environment is a fundamental part of their being. We are therefore once again taking something that many non-white communities have been doing for ages without giving them any credit. If you want to read up further on this, here are some really good accounts of people of colour and their views on sustainability:


Dominique Drakeford (@dominiquedrakeford on Instagram), an environmental educator who describes sustainability as “an inherently black and brown indigenous regenerative mechanism for living and engaging with nature”

Aja Barber (@ajabarber on Instagram), incredibly informative writer who covers a lot on sustainable fashion.

Mikaela Loach (@mikaelaloach on Instagram), a student from Edinburgh University who is a brilliant ethical fashion blogger and climate activist.

Lastly, we also have to consider the privilege we have in living in a part of the world that has not yet seen any threatening or dangerous effects of climate change. Of course, temperatures here in the UK have changed as well, but other than that it is relatively easy to put climate change on the back burner, since it doesn’t seem “urgent” for us at this point.

However, there are already many countries that have felt the consequences (see the fires in the Amazon, Australia, Siberia, Alaska and Congo) and there are already a large number of people leaving their homes due to the changing climate which is threatening their existence (see people fleeing Northern Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Mali due to Lake Chad, their main source for agriculture, fisheries and livestock, having shrunk by more than 90%).
With this in mind, it is therefore essential to wake up and realise that the effects of global warming are real and already here and that is up to us to help those, that are already impacted.
After all, we would also want someone to help us when sea levels are rising and the first parts of Edinburgh are starting to be destroyed

Thank you for reading if you made it this far!
We hope you’ve learnt something today and that we’ve given you something to think about.

Happy sustainebl-er living,

Heriot-Watt Sustainability Society

#sustainabilitysaturday No8

It is the season..to buy things?

Hi guys, the end of the semester has come for us and we are all a little busy, so this week’s entry will be the last one for this year. We just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has read our posts so far (and is reading this one right now).

Today we want to talk about the festive season, and most importantly Christmas (for those of you who celebrate it). With all the adverts surrounding us all day long, it is very easy to fall into the consumerism trap at this time of year. Everywhere you go, you are encouraged to buy things for your friends and family, your colleagues and housemates, or even just for yourself, but we wanted to take this moment to give you some tips on how this year, you can have a slightly more sustainable Christmas.

  1. Wish lists are key! Make one for yourself and try to think what it is, that you really need or want. Take some time and maybe you will see, that you are happy with the things you currently have and that that 4th pair of boots is really not necessary (I promise, we are all guilty of this).
  2. Let everyone that might get you a present know what’s on your wish list and ask them for what’s on theirs. This will prevent you from getting something that you awkwardly have to thank someone for, before you put it in the back of the cupboard and never look at it again. It will also help you to
    a) not waste time trying to think of something for your friend/ family member,
    b) not waste money buying things they will never use and
    c) actually get them something they will be happy about
  3. If you don’t want to get presents for everyone in your family or friendship group, maybe try secret Santa? That way each person will get one, nice Christmas present and you avoid the whole everybody having to get something for everyone-drama. And you will save money while not supporting big companies making a ridiculous amount of money during this time of year.
  4. When it comes to buying the present itself, try supporting small, local companies. This way you’ll know you aren’t supporting mass production where people are exploited. Instead, you know exactly who your money is going to and trust me, small business owners are endlessly grateful for every purchase someone makes from them.
  5. If you can, maybe have a look on eBay or in charity shops. You never know, you might find the exact thing your mum has been looking for for ages for just a fraction of the price and without supporting the wasteful society we live in. This obviously doesn’t work for everything and everyone, but you might as well give it a try.
  6. Another option is to make a present instead of buying something. If you have any creative talents, use them and draw something/ write a poem/ knit a jumper/sing a song. Whatever you think will make the other person happy. If you think you don’t have any skills like that, make some vouchers for going to the cinema or having a movie night at home. Make a jar cake mix to be gifted, all ingredients in one jar, all you need to do is water. Bake a cake or cook someone a meal. If you can think of something you would be happy to receive as a present, think about who else would enjoy it.
  7. When it comes to Christmas decorations, less is more. Do you really need 20 fairy lights that use up electricity or will some candles do? And if you do need some new decoration, try buying something that will last for more than one Christmas. If only used once a year and put away safely, you will not only save money on the decorations, but also avoid time in Primark the second week in December, trying to get some Christmas baubles.
  8. Lastly, think about wrapping presents. Every year, tonnes of wrapping paper gets thrown out after only being used once for a couple of hours. Most of them aren’t even recyclable, because of added glitter or shining foil. There is an easy to find out if it is recyclable or not (the scrunch test: scrunch the wrapping paper and then release, if it stays scrunched together, it is most likely recyclable).
    If you do need to buy some, try and buy some recyclable paper and then wrap the presents carefully so you can reuse it for next year. The more neutral the wrapping paper, the more you get to reuse it during the year (think birthdays and other celebrations). If you don’t want to get any wrapping paper, you can always use newspapers and add some nice ribbons or flowers to decorate it.

These are all the tips we have for you this week. We hope you find them useful and as always, just try your best and it will already be a great contribution!

Happy sustainabl-er living,

Heriot-Watt Sustainability Society

#sustainabilitysaturday No7

Bigger Changes

Hello everyone, welcome back to this week’s sustainability Saturday.
Today we want to talk about things that aren’t necessarily small steps or easy things to do. Sometimes we can feel that doing things like buying plastic free produce or using a soap bar doesn’t really have any impact (don’t be fooled, supply and demand is a thing though, so we like to think it does!). If you are, however, wondering what other things there are that you can do in your life, we got you covered. Our top 4 tips are:

1) Inform yourself where the companies you support invest their money in. A good example would be your energy supplier. In the UK, we have some good options, such as Octopus Energy, Bulb, Ecotricity or Green Start Energy. Have a look if any of them supply energy in your area and if you can afford it, make the switch (most of the time it’s actually the same price or cheaper).

2) See if there are any groups in your local town that organise events around sustainability. This could be everything from a beach clean, a protest or discussion groups to information sessions or even just movie nights. Finding others that think alike can help you see the bigger picture and get more ideas on how to become more active, outside your daily life. Plus it is also a great space to gossip about big, corrupt companies and politicians that don’t seem to realise we really do only have this one planet.

3) If you can’t seem to find any groups, start something yourself. It doesn’t have to be a big group that organises radical events every week, but maybe start amongst your friends. You can go off in a small group and do some litter picking, organise a day where you bring old, unwanted clothes and exchange them, exchange books/podcasts/social media accounts that inspire you or provide useful sources of information. If your friends enjoy that, they might invite other friends along or at least tell them about it and there you go, you’ve spread a little bit of sustainability.

4) If you are really busy and cannot find the time to join any groups or attend any local activities, donate to some charities. There are so many non-profit organisations that do amazing work and you can choose from supporting people that organise litter picking events or protect the rain forests to organisations that help educate people about climate change, pollution and sustainability.

Lastly we just want to say that the fact that we can choose whether to become active or not, whether to care about our environment or not, is very much a privilege. There will be a whole other post about that, but please don’t forget that there are so many communities around the world that are already suffering from the climate crisis. Just keep that in mind that while we may not be feeling the effects of the climate crisis yet, we probably will at some point. The only way to stop this is therefore to do our part now, as little and insignificant as it seems, and to demand actions from our political leaders.

We hope you have a great weekend,
Happy sustainbl-er living,

Heriot-Watt Sustainability Society

#sustainabilitysaturday No6

POLITICS

Hello and welcome back everyone!
This week’s sustainability Saturday is actually a Sunday, we hope you can forgive us 😉
Today we want to talk about something that we consider very, very important to fighting for sustainability: Politics.

This is obviously very relevant right now, as the UK general election is coming up in December and there are only a few days left to register to vote (26th November). We don’t want to force our political opinions on you, as this is not a political activist group, but we couldn’t help but make a post about this. So let’s get into it!

Most of us have probably thought at some point, that politics is boring, complicated and doesn’t concern us. Well, while the first two might be debatable, the last one certainly isn’t. Do you care about whether you have to pay for going to the doctor or not? That is politics. Do you care about having public transport connections between where you live and where your parents live and how much it costs? That is politics. Our point is, politics concerns everyone, and even though we think our vote probably won’t make a difference, it absolutely can! Since the beginning of September, more than 58,000 people under 25 have registered to vote (see this link) . One person might not make a difference by themself, but 58,000 certainly can. So make sure that you and everyone you know have signed up to vote until November 26th.
https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

Next thing we need to talk about is who to vote for. Now, since you are reading this blog post, we assume that you care about the environment to some extent. As we said before, we don’t want to push our opinions on you, but the fact is that if you vote for the Conservative Party, regardless of all other factors, you will definitely not be helping the environment. According to this article, Tory MPs are five times as likely to vote against climate action, which at this stage would simply be one of the worst possible things the UK could do for the environment. So who to vote for?

This text by Jon Griffith sums it up very well. We have to be tactical with our vote, as we all have to work together to fight the environmentally worst possible outcome. So look up what party in your region would be most likely to beat the Conservatives and there you have it.
If you live further from home, have a look at this website from the guardian
Simply put in your home address and your uni address/ the address of where you are currently living, to see where your vote will be the most effective.
In the end, it is our future we are deciding on here, so we might as well vote for it!

Happy sustainabl-er living,

Heriot-Watt Sustainability Society

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