By Jess Brown
Hey, I don’t know about you but the world descending into a fiery hellscape full of toxic pollution, floods, barren coral reefs and Mad Max-esque chase sequences across the future desert planes of London doesn’t sound so peak. It’s important that we as a species band together and do all we can to save this planet, the environment and all of its animals. We aren’t the only species being affected by this. In 2016 the Bramble Cay melomys, a species of rodents was suspected to have gone extinct due to climate change. They were confirmed to be extinct earlier this year, which sucks and they aren’t the only species who have gone extinct. The WWF website describes it as follows, based on a large scale estimation at how many species there are on the planet (bearing in mind the actual number is unknown):
There are around 8.7 million species documented by humans. So with that maths you hopefully get the very horrifying picture that around 870 to 8700 species go extinct every year.
There’s another quote from the website:
“Unlike the mass extinction events of geological history, the current extinction challenge is one for which a single species - ours - appears to be almost wholly responsible.”
In summary, the ice caps are melting, forests are dying and the coral reefs are being bleached. All of these environments, whether they are on land or sea or literally frozen, are home to thousands, if not millions of different species.
For more alarming information and statistics, check out NASA's website: https://climate.nasa.gov/
We all have a responsibility and it's important to recognize that. Sheffield Hallam Students’ Union has made changes to a lot of the catering outlets so that they are more environmentally friendly. Notably, in Coffee Union, plastic cups are vegware which is a 100% compostable material made from plants, not plastic. Wooden cutlery and paper straws are now used, reusable coffee cups are sold, and you get an extra 20p off any drink if someone uses their own mug or reusable cup. You can also buy reusable metal water bottles from The Stall and fill up your water at the newly installed water fountain inside the HUBS. Did you know that the pizza boxes are recyclableand you can recycle your plastic and cans at the recycle points in the HUBS?there are also recycle points for plastic and cans within Coffee Union.
Here are a few other things that the Students' Union is doing that helps the environment:
- Every year they take part in the Donate, Don’t Waste scheme which encourages students moving out of their accommodation or student house to donate items they don’t want instead of just throwing them out. This campaign will run from about mid-April to June. More information here: https://www.hallamstudentsunion.com/donatedontwaste/
- The SU’s Union Council (one of the highest decision making bodies in the SU) recently passed a policy to ban plastic water bottles from being sold at the HUBS. For information about policies, see here: https://www.hallamstudentsunion.com/representation/democracy/currentpolicies/. The new policy to ban plastic water bottles will be on the website soon (the policy passed on 12 February).
- This year, the SU are hosting a ‘Green Week’ from 13-17 May. More information coming soon!
- The Union are working towards improving the impact of their building and have been taking steps towards reducing unnecessary opening hours to further decrease energy consumed. Also, there are five union staff members that are 'Green Champions' and actively encourage staff to think about their impact, such as turning PC's off during non-working hours and when they are out of the office.All printing in the union is automatically double-sided and they have recently swapped to unbleached, recycled printer paper. Using unbleached printer paper ensures that Hallam Union decreases their impact on our waterways and natural environment.
You can find little ways of being more environmentally friendly too. Every day things such as:
- If it’s possible for you, walk instead of driving or catching a bus. This decreases your carbon footprint.
- Recycling is so easy to do. Just throw your glass, plastics and metals in the recycling. There are bins all over Sheffield Hallam University where you can do this as well as in the HUBS.
- Eating less meat is magical for the environment. You don’t have to become fully vegan but buying even a little less meat provides more funding and focus on sustainable farming instead of factory farming where the production methods used are often barbaric for the animal and terrible for the environment. For more information follow this link:
For even more tips for every day ways you can help the environment you can follow the official Sheffield Hallam Students’ Union sustainability Twitter account:
The official Sheffield Hallam University sustainability account:
And you can watch this very interesting video by David Attenborough for the new Netflix Series Our Planet, which gives even more ways you can do your bit.
As almost all of these sites and Twitter accounts will tell you, it’s not too late and what you do and buy matters! We still have time and we all have the ability to change things. So let’s change it.