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Our Environmental


All Students' Unions have issues where they could make improvements to reduce their negative impacts on the environment and increase their positive impact, such as energy use, procurement, waste production etc.

Identifying specific impacts can help us to focus on work areas to improve our sustainability overall within the Union. This is not something that the Union has ever done in a formal capacity however we want to promote transparency and show how we are working towards a greener Students’ Union.


As a small and specialist Students’ Union it can be hard to quantify how much impact we are having in certain areas so below are the larger negative impacts that the Union team has identified and what we’re doing to combat them.

Food and Drink Waste

In previous years food and drink waste has been quite high due to inconsistent ordering for society and Union events and activities, ordering specific food for one-off events, over estimating how much students’ would eat at events and ordering perishable food.


To combat this over the last few years we are now committed to:

  •  Buying as much none perishable food as possible, where we do buy fruit etc we have introduced a fruit bowl in the Union space rather than storing it in the cupboards so that staff can keep an eye on it during the time we have it available to students.

  • We try to purchase the majority of food for our on site events from the Universities cafe who offer fresh, healthy, sustainable food in vegware packaging.

  • We keep track of how many people are signing up to events on the What’s On calendar and order an appropriate amount.

  • We rarely buy specific food for one-off events instead opting for suitable options that will cover a range of events so that any food left after said event can then be supplied to another society or Union activity.

  • Where we have previously ordered in hot food for Student Rep Training we now purchase from Dot The Lions a sustainable café who are situated internally in the University building.

  • Although due to the above this is now very rare, if there is food leftover with no way to use it we will donate food and drinks to local collections such as Rainbow JUNktion.

Paper and Printing

Undoubtably printing is one of the Union’s biggest impacts, during the pandemic promotional materials were entirely stripped back to just digital marketing. This meant that when returning to in-person we had to weigh up our printing in relation to Student Engagement. We had feedback in multiple rep meetings and individually that students were unaware of what events and activities were happening.


This year we have committed to:

  • Printing reusable posters, omitting dates during big campaigns such as the Student Elections, YSS, NSS and PGSS surveys so that these can be reused for years to come.

    • Where dates are required, smaller business card size information will be printed and cut out to attached to posters to save on printing e.g. 1 A4 page of 10 ‘date info cards’ compared to 10 new A4s.

  • Moved all Exec Meeting agendas and papers to digital documents,

  • View all committee papers via laptop or ipad for committees that staff and students attend.

  • Asked that all Society Leaders print posters through us to be approved so that Union staff can monitor printer usage.

  • Where printing is required the Union will always endeavor to use double-sided printing to reduce paper.

  • Reduced copies of NEST magazine to match student demand and reduce left overs.

PVC and Vinyl Waste

Roll banners are an effective way to communicate bigger events and campaigns to students (especially around Freshers) however it can be hard to recycle PVC and vinyl effectively. Vinyl is often use for the decals on the Students Union windows to make the space welcoming and fun which is refreshed each year in the Freshers branding, as well as for exhibitions.


This year the Union has committed to:

  • Printing onto Grafix Repositionable Self-Adhesive Fabric rather than vinyl for Freshers decals and for exhibitions, this material has been requested by the University to phase out the use of vinyl from the print room for all students and staff. This is a much more sustainably made and recyclable material. Due to the nature of the material being able to be printed onto directly and repositioned it is a lot more flexible in the ways it can be used.

  • For exhibitions, the Union has reduced the use of vinyl in exhibitions instead opting for recycled paper and the Grafix Repositionable Self-Adhesive Fabric where applicable.

  • A big win for the Union this year was limiting the amount of roll banners we print and reusing a stand for our Elections roll banner. We also create a design that is non perishable and used a more sustainable paper to print this on instead of one that is plastic coated.

Purchasing of Ethical and Sustainable Products

Many student groups and staff purchase items online for campaigns, events and activities. Due to the small nature of the team, there is a need due to the quick delivery to still occasionally use Amazon as a supplier.


This year the Union has committed to:

  • Significantly reducing the use of Amazon to purchase products, we are happy to share that the Union staff avoided the use of Amazon for all Freshers Week purchases. There is still work to do in this area, the Union is looking to put together stricter guidance for purchasing in the upcoming year to eliminate Amazon even further if not entirely.  

  • This year for many competitions and giveaways the Union has opted for digital gift cards rather than physical objects, we have found this to reduce a lot of waste with students wining prizes that they may not want.

  • The Union has committed to purchasing FairTrade hoodies for the upcoming merchandise drop at the end of the academic year and going forward.

  • For events that require alcoholic drinks the Union has made the change from supermarket wine to purchasing from Sea Change Wines an ethical and sustainable company that addresses ocean pollution and promotes responsible production and consumption. This has been used for the biggest celebration of the year, the Summer Ball.

  • When purchasing items from printers such as tote bags and promotional materials the Union researches into the companies we are buying from as well as the products themselves, opting where possible to work with B Corps and companies that promote sustainable printing and operational ethics.


approimately101 kg CO2e / 0.101 tonnes CO2e

Although travel is a fairly minimal impact for the Union, it’s something we continue to monitor to understand how we can reduce this where possible.


This year the Union has committed to:

  • Organising in person meetings for days when students are already in the University buildings to reduce travel. Where training events need to take place at the Vernon and Rossington Street building, staff travel by foot to reduce the number of students potentially using the bus or taxis. Where students would be attending the University just for a meeting the Union staff organise to meet online via Google Meets to reduce travel from students.

  • Union staff all walk into work where possible or car share.

  • When booking Student Representatives onto conferences outside of the city, rail travel has been utilised rather than taxis or cars.

  • One of the bigger travel aspects within the Union is transporting equipment to external events that requires a car or van. The Union has looked to host bigger events closer to the University to reduce travel miles and reducing the amount of equipment that needs to be transported to external events to reduce the use of a car.

If you have any questions or ideas please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at

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