It’s that time of year again! Green Week is nearly upon us, and environmentalists from all over DCU have been working tirelessly to organise events, talks, and initiatives. Sustainability can be a lonely business, and it often feels like most people are too busy with other things to be concerned about the future of the planet. Not only is Green Week a chance for you to get together with like-minded people, it is also an opportunity to grow the community of people concerned about sustainability through engagement and education.
This year’s Green Week is shaping up to be one of the best yet! DCU will welcome Dr Hannah Daly, member of the carbon budgets subcommittee of the climate advisory council, who will be giving a talk on Thursday from UCC. Dr Daly is a lecturer in Sustainable Energy and Energy Systems Modelling at University College Cork. She has worked with UCL and the International Energy Agency, and has published dozens of academic papers and reports. You can join the talk on Teams by following this link.
Green Week will also host Extinction Rebellion (XR) for a talk on climate activism. For several years, XR Ireland has been one of the most radical and visible groups in environmental activism. Most of you will likely remember ‘Rebellion Week’ from back in 2019, when XR activists occupied Merrion Square and forced the government to confront the fact that the Climate Crisis is not going away, and that the Irish people will not stand for inaction. Eoin Campbell, an XR activist and DCU employee, as well as Susan Breen, an international coordinator for XR and active member of People Before Profit, will be present. The event will take place in the Solas room in the U building from 15:00. You can also join the event virtually by following this link!
In addition to talks, there will be a number of more interactive events taking place across the university. One great example is the sustainable market that will take place in the Glasnevin Campus on Monday. There will also be a swap shop on Tuesday organised by the sustainable living society! This is a great opportunity to get rid of stuff you don’t need or want. On top of that, it is the most sustainable way to get new stuff! Producing just about anything will create carbon emissions and other pollutants, and deplete natural resources like water. Why damage the environment by buying everything brand new when you can get most of the things you need from people who don’t want them anymore? Plus, it’s free!
One of the most exciting initiatives in this year’s Green Week is that all the menus in DCU canteens and restaurants will come with a carbon footprint rating for each option! This is a really interesting way to learn about the comparative emissions from different types of foods. Many people these days are inclined to choose the lowest-carbon option available to them, so this initiative will hopefully also significantly reduce DCU’s food emissions! There is only so much individuals can do to create systemic change around things like renewable energy and areas of conservation, but you alone choose what you eat! Changing our diets is one of the most effective ways to reduce our impact on the environment.
Not only does it make a difference what kinds of food we eat, it is also important to consider where the food comes from. How far the food has travelled to get from the farm to your plate affects the emissions, as does the amount of fertiliser and pesticides used. Often we don’t have access to this information as consumers. That is why as part of this year’s Green Week, the main restaurants in DCU will be serving some food that has been grown on campus! It doesn’t get much more local than that. The food comes courtesy of the Garden Gnomes and the Grow Dome.
Wednesday the 9th is reusable cup day. That means that if you bring your reusable cup to almost any tea or coffee vendor across DCU you will get your beverage for just €1! This is great to see, since reusable cups were not accepted by many places since the beginning of the pandemic. At long last, these establishments feel it is safe to start accepting them again. Many of them are also now offering reusable metal cutlery again. It is a new day!
Perhaps the most interactive event of all is the ‘Marchathon’. This event involves creating teams of 3-6 people and then tracking your steps over the course of the month. You can track your steps on anything from your phone to your smartwatch then input them into the system. The teams that have walked the most will receive prizes! This is a great way to encourage active travel, which helps a great deal with reducing carbon emissions. You can register for the Marchathon at https://activetravellogger.ie/.
We will be recommending a different environment-themed film each day of Green Week. Keep an eye out for the Green Week newsletter for further details on what films we recommend. There is something for everyone in the list, which ranges from a documentary to the Simpsons Movie! Cinema is one of the best ways to convey messages in a way that people can connect with on a personal level. There has been no shortage of environment-themed films in recent decades, so we were spoiled for choice!
There is a significant environmental impact associated with work undertaken in both teaching and learning and research laboratories – they are major consumers of energy with some low temp freezers consuming as much energy as a house per annum. Fume hoods can use as much as 3 and half homes worth of energy every day! They can also create large quantities of waste from single use plastics such as pipette tips to noxious waste chemicals which can be expensive to dispose of appropriately. Along with several other Irish and internal universities, DCU is engaging with the MyGreenLab programme working to gain green lab certification for laboratories. If you want to know more and hear some first-hand experience from labs working on achieving my green lab certification, please come along to the DCU MyGreenLab talk on Wednesday 09/03/2022 at 13.00 – here is the zoom link – registration is necessary.
Finally, you can join us for our rewilding event on Friday. This will involve seed bombing several designated areas on the Glasnevin, St Pat’s, and All Hallows campuses. We have 1,000 seed bombs ready to go, so we will need all the help we can get! This is a fun activity, and so helpful to the local wildlife. Flowering plants provide food for many different insects, which in turn feed the birds and small mammals.
This year’s Green Week is absolutely packed with amazing events and activities. Keep an eye out for the Green Week newsletter which will be sent to your email for details on when and where these events will take place, and how you can get involved. We hope you are as excited as we are!
Image Credit: DCU