In Spring 2015, departments across UCL once again took part in UCL’s Green Impact, and the Royal Free Medical Library got involved as well.
The library was already one of the few which had reached platinum status and the Green Team of the library now had the task of maintaining that status by initiating a project that would promote sustainability and concern for the environment. It was decided that we would organise a lecture series and invite speakers who we knew would provide excellent presentations that would educate and motivate all those who attended.
The first speaker to visit was John Fleetwood from the Woodland Trust. He is a highly inspirational speaker and did not disappoint as he injected humour into his talk, as well as fascinating personal experiences.
The Woodland Trust is the UK’s largest woodland conservation charity, and it campaigns to protect ancient woods, restore damaged woods and inspires people to visit woods and plant trees. More than half a million trees are planted every year with the help of 300,000 members and supporters.
John stressed the importance of our woodland, especially our ancient woodland, as so many species, including the endangered, depend upon it. Some of these creatures include red squirrels, dormice and bullfinches, not forgetting the ground flora such as bluebells. John also described how we are one of the least wooded countries in Europe; with as little as four per cent of woodland cover.
|Miriam Rice from the Green Team receiving the Award for Excellence in Sustainability 2015 from Vice-Provost Professor Anthony Smith|
For the next talk, Dimitra Rappou, Vicky Karidopoulou and other members of the Waste Prevention Team from the North London Waste Authority arrived to greet a packed room of staff and students. They were generous with the free gifts, and our role in preventing food waste was clearly emphasised. The UK produces 15 million tonnes of food waste every year, and almost half of that is produced by householders. 25 percent of all the food we buy is thrown away unopened, and the overall waste includes, for example, 236,000 chickens every day.
All of this is so relevant to our environment as the waste produces methane, which adds to climate change, but there was plenty we could do to change our behaviour. We should never shop when we are hungry, and we should think carefully before taking advantage of buy one get one free deals.
The team then looked forward to the final talk from Greenpeace. Athen Ayren from Greenpeace explained why the organisation is so successful – people did the right thing when they felt they were being watched. Athen described her role as a volunteer, and gave many examples of where Greenpeace had lobbied companies to get them to change.
Both Mattel and Lego had used packaging made from materials from rainforests and Greenpeace got them to use properly sustainable materials instead. Similarly, Greenpeace made an impact against McDonalds in 2006 when the company had been using soya which came from illegal crops in the rainforests in order to feed its chickens. Man-size chickens invaded branches of the fast-food chain and McDonalds announced that it would only be using soya from non-rainforest sources from then on.
The speaker lamented of the attitudes of people towards the environment, especially when they tried to find any excuse for not accepting that climate change existed, or asserting that members of Greenpeace were only in it for themselves. Greenpeace did not take money from corporations and believed in non-violence.
The North London Waste Authority had left many free gifts and leaflets, so the Green Team set up a display stand in the library. The stand went on to be a great success, and the free items were taken away by readers. The message of sustainability and environmental awareness has reached a lot of our stakeholders, making our efforts worthwhile, as we are pleased to say that we were presented with the Green Impact Award for Excellence in Sustainability 2015 at a ceremony in the Wilkins Building on 15 September.