09 May

Focus On: Project Green

Project Green was launched by a group of students just before Christmas, and they certainly have been busy! Nitzan Baybus filled us in on everything they’ve achieved this term.

‘Project Green’ is a group within our College that aims to improve students’ lives and the overall community and environment. This project is fairly new and was inspired by the College’s Friends of the Earth (FOE) and Citizens UK programmes. 

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Where it all began

On the 4th of October 2016, Citizens UK and FOE held their first meeting. The students who attended the meeting were asked for their opinions regarding critical issues. It became clear that most students were aware of the issues but were unaware of how to go about solving them.

The Citizens UK and FOE leadership team carried out a ‘community listening’ survey in order to learn more about how people thought their community environment could be improved. We set ourselves the challenge of asking 10 College students and 10 local people for their thoughts. We definitely found that going up to people and asking them about the environment isn’t only scary but doesn’t really capture everyone’s interest. This was another eye-opening moment for the leadership team since it suggested to us that there wasn’t enough of a conversation happening about this significant issue.

 

My World My Home

Those who had showed a great level of interest continued to the ‘My World My Home’ training weekend in November 12th and 13th. On this training weekend, the team learned how to carry out a campaign, one of the most important lessons for this programme. This was where we also came up with our very first campaign, known as ‘Double Decker’.

 Double Decker

The Double Decker Campaign

‘Double Decker’ was a campaign based around the theme of Christmas Spirit and on the results from our community listening. The first issue we tackled was the overcrowding on Cardiff Buses, as this was a comment that we had received a lot. From an environmental perspective, we believed the best solution would be to change the buses which serve the College from single deckers to double deckers.

As Christmas was approaching we chose to hold a Christmas spirit-based action on the 13th of December. This action involved presenting Cardiff Bus with a huge light up Christmas card and a double decker chocolate for each bus driver. To each of the 750 chocolate bars we attached a tag written by students stating one thing they wish was improved and one thing they appreciated about the services. We dressed up in ‘Christmassy’ clothing and went to the Cardiff Bus buildings to present them with our holiday gifts, and clear request written in the card and on a letter to the head of the company, Cynthia Ogbonna. We continued to be in contact with Ms Ogbonna and can proudly say we have noticed an increase in the amount of double decker buses serving the College area.

 

The Big Small Things

After our first campaign, we chose to focus on the small things which we can do in order to make a difference. We have been cleaning our environment, the beaches and local communities, we have educated people about what we stand for and worked closely on other Citizens and FOE projects such as the recent Accountability Assembly where we delivered a speech (see page 9).

 

Becoming 'Project Green'

In March 2017, the Leadership Team re-branded themselves as ‘Project Green’. We wanted to ensure that we became known as a group who produced creative and effective actions. After doing ‘big-small-things’ we chose to focus our efforts around the importance of recycling. We launched two projects, both had similar objectives but were different and unique.


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The Chicken Suits

Our second campaign was focused around packaging used in restaurants. We noticed that our beloved take away places used polystyrene containers. Polystyrene is made of petroleum-based plastic from the styrene monomer, meaning it cannot be fully recycled. However, it is still heavily used by the food industry since it is incredibly light (consisting of 95% air) and very cheap. Eco-friendly versions of this packaging are now being produced, however it is more difficult to produce, making it more expensive.

We launched our campaign at Benny’s Chicken, a fast food outlet near the College. We hoped to educate the staff and present them with packing options that are better for our environment. Two Project Green volunteers dressed up in chicken costumes and our other 30+ volunteers were ‘armed’ with environmentally friendly packaging. We all went down to the shop, bought food and asked for it to be put in our packaging rather than theirs. We then went on to explain to the staff what we were doing and why. It was important for us to understand their business needs and that they understand our aims.

 

Recycled Art

While working on the Benny’s Chicken campaign we were also working towards another action. We came up with the idea of producing an art exhibition where the art is made out of all recycled plastic bottles. We thought this would inspire students into recycling through creativity rather than scaring them with environmental facts. We hoped that the outcome of the action would also allow us to emphasise the idea of using a bottle recycling machine within our College. This action was our most challenging since we had to learn how to organise an event.

We used one of the empty cupboards in our LRC as a place to store plastic bottles recycled by our students. By the end of the action we, as a college, recycled 453 plastic bottles. Our student artists then used these bottles to produce amazing pieces of art which we presented in the art exhibition on the 31st of March. We also held a Cupcake Week in order to raise money for the event.

The art exhibition was a competition between the artists and we had three main prizes to present to our winners. Our judges were: Ffion Matthews who works with Surfers Against Sewage and FOE and is currently trying to get a bottle scheme to be introduced in Britain; Sami Bryant who is a Youth Ambassador for EcoIslam and works closely with FOE and Citizens UK; Richard Weaver who has been working with us on our campaigns and is a leader of FOE and Citizens UK; and Mr Leighfield our Principal who greatly understood and supported our aim.

 

Making Strides at College

Our latest success was in the College Canteen. With the help of Sam, Canteen Manager, we were able to make the Canteen packaging fully biodegradable! Project Green is continuing to work on environmental justice not only in our College but in our community of Cardiff.

 - Nitzan Baybus, Project Green Founding Member

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