Green

Our Green Officer

Izzy Greenhalgh is our current Green Officer. She can be contacted at mcr-green@clare.cam.ac.uk.

CLARE GOES GREEN - A Guide for the MCR

The University of Cambridge has a goal to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2038. This is a big commitment and changes at a collegiate and individual level are crucial to success. In previous years Clare has won the University’s Green Impact Competition, which shows the College’s commitment to becoming more environmentally friendly, but there is always more we can do.
Some of the changes required to achieve net zero will take longer to implement, such as electrifying college and accommodation heating systems. However, there are many shorter term changes we can make ourselves and encourage others to make that will still have a huge impact on Clare’s carbon emissions.
Clare’s emissions* average 2,469 tCO2/yr with gas responsible for 1,187 tCO2/yr (48%). However, food and waste contribute 557 and 216 tCO2/yr, which correspond to 23% and 9% respectively, and so cutting down on these emissions through the following ideas can have a large impact on our carbon footprint. Let’s also not forget that even small changes can add up and make a difference, especially if enough of us commit to them, so some further ideas for how we can live a more environmentally friendly lifestyle are also outlined below!
Finally, keep your eyes peeled for Green newsletters and updates especially about the University Green Week that is being held in Michaelmas term Monday 17th – Sunday 23rd October. This will be a great way to learn more about how we can become greener at an individual, collegiate and university level through talks, workshops and activities that will be hosted across participating colleges, and it will also be a great way to meet likeminded people!

*Reference: Roadmap to Zero Emissions in a Cambridge College – Joey Bream, 2022 - contact Joey and give this a read for more information and insights into Clare's emissions and what we can do to get to net zero!

Eco Schemes at Clare and Beyond

The Big 3:

  1. No ruminants in the buttery - could save 126 tCO2/yr (5.1% of Clare's emissions). Discussions of taking ruminants off the buttery menu could help us make a substantial step forward in reducing our carbon footprint in Clare and you can help to push this agenda by opting to avoid these food options. If you want to go further opt for the veggie or vegan options (if Clare went completely vegan we could bring this up to saving a staggering 332 tCO2/yr which equates to 13.4% of our annual CO2 emissions).

  2. More composting! - could save 83 tCO2/yr (3.4%). Improving our food waste handling by using food waste bins can have a big impact on Clare’s carbon emissions. Due to difficulties with students not cleaning out their bins properly in previous years, they are no longer a mainstay in kitchens, but YOU can request a food waste bin from Jackie Searle (js426@clare.cam.ac.uk) – just please commit to emptying it regularly and giving it a quick clean (you can make a rota for your kitchen to share this responsibility and then no one has to do it too often if you’re averse)! Further, if we can perfect our waste management through composting and more recycling we can bump our carbon savings up to 139 tCO2/yr (5.6%)! We’re currently working on trying to get food waste bins as a mainstay with a trial in Clare Court – please reach out to me at mcr-green@clare.cam.ac.uk if you’re interested in helping out.

  3. (Vacation) Heating Reductions - could save up to 38 tCO2/yr (1.5%). If college reduce our heating during the holidays, we can reduce Clare’s carbon emissions by 1.5%. HOWEVER, if we all commit to lowering our thermostats even by a 1 or 2 degrees, we can push this further. In Winter try popping on some fluffy socks and another jumper before reaching to turn the thermostat up each time.

More ways to make a difference:

  1. Gardening and Clare Growers: Recently an allotment site at The Colony, a site for undergraduate accommodation off Chesterton Lane, has been developed. If you would like to be involved in running the allotment, please contact the Clare Growers Association, who meet on Sunday’s at 1pm (ld628@cam.ac.uk). If you are keen to set up a gardening scheme at your accommodation, please contact the current MCR Green Rep (mcr-green@clare.cam.ac.uk) or the Head Gardener, Kate Hargreaves (kh527@clare.cam.uk). To keep updated with Clare Growers you can follow their facebook or instagram pages here:
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/1079601436102773
    https://www.instagram.com/claregrowers/

  2. Energy Use: The college is currently implementing a project to monitor energy usage term on term across college sites. You will soon be hearing more on how your energy-saving efforts are playing out in your accommodation, but don’t hold back from minimising your energy usage in the meantime. Alongside keeping
    your thermostat and radiators turned down you can also reduce the time spent in the shower. You can also help out by reporting energy wastage: if you see a light that is always on or not activated by a sensor, please contact Deborah Hoy (with cc to the MCR Green Officer mcr-green@clare.cam.ac.uk), so that the Estates team can replace it with an energy-efficient one.

  3. Societies: The undergraduates have a vibrant eco Soc (Clare Goes Green) which has an especially impressive instagram feed full of tips and initiatives around Clare (@claregoesgreen). Clare Goes Green are affiliated with the Clare Growers Association, so do be in touch with CGG if you are interested in the allotment.

  4. Greencycle Cupboard: The MCR has a space for new and old students to recycle items. It can be tempting to buy everything new for the year but do check out the greencycle cupboard (wood-fronted doors to the left of the gates as you enter Clare Court) as there are often plenty of pots, pans, etc ready to be re-used. Similarly, at the end of the year, if you are returning home and no longer need household items, which are in good condition, please leave them in the cupboard for the following cohort. Please keep the cupboard tidy and please do not use it as a dumping ground for things that no longer work or that should be thrown out. To help avoid the build-up of endless clutter we’re in the process of setting up a group where people can post what they’ll leave in the cupboard, to help build awareness for what’s in there and what people may need!

  5. Cycle Repair: The Greencycle cupboard is also home to some basic cycle repair materials (a pump, tyre levers, a set of Allen keys, a wrench, and some lubricant spray). These aren’t there for Greencycling purposes, so enjoy(?) them but please put them back once used!

  6. Recycling: It should always be possible to recycle paper, metals, glass, and most plastics in provided recycling bins; look out also for the new crisp packet recycling bins. Many of the Co-ops and bigger food stores around Cambridge accept soft plastics for recycling (see below). And if you see the need for a recycling bin anywhere in college, please email the MCR Green Officer (ig397@cam.ac.uk) or Jackie Searle (js426@clare.cam.ac.uk).

  7. The City: Postgraduate life can at times feel removed from wider environments; fortunately, there are plenty of eco schemes running in Cambridge city that can create a sense of connection and give you a stake in ecological living.
    CoFarm: This amazing new scheme is a pilot in ecological community farming taking place off Barnwell road (just next to Coldham’s Common). You can apply to get involved as a volunteer at their website: https://www.cofarm.co/cambridge
    Trumpington Community Orchard: This project is based about 3 miles to the south of the city and aims to maintain a biodiverse orchard that keeps alive heritage apple varieties. The site has free public access, and if you’re interested in volunteering to maintain the site, you can apply through the website:
    https://www.trumpingtonorchard.org/aboutus/
    Cambridge Trees: There’s lots you can do to help tree life in Cambridge, from volunteering to help with maintenance to mapping, and from watering young trees to protecting trees at risk, usually from profit hungry developers (AKA developers). More info here: https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/media/8772/help-usmanagethe-citys-trees.pdf

  8. Biodiversity: As the importance of biodiversity has come more and more to the forefront in recent years, “citizen science” initiatives have proven to be invaluable data collections. This helps guide us in the directions needed to improve the areas around us, and our practices, which lead to increasing biodiversity. Here in Cambridge we are lucky enough to have a tool at our disposal called iRecord, where we can record data in our surrounding area as we see it, with no need to be an expert in identifying plants or animals, and on any day of the year! You can enter information either on a desktop computer or download the app on your phone to load up sightings as they happen. It is a free tool and simple to use. If this is something you are interested in doing you can watch this instructional video which has all the information you need to start uploading data and be a nature and wildlife hero: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1rxgd27OE58

  9. Eco Shopping:

    • The Market in the centre of town is a great way to make your shopping packaging-free. Make sure to take your own shopping bags as well as containers or paper bags to pop the produce into!
    • Full Circle Shop UK is a zero-waste pop-up that can be found in the market Monday – Thursday. They have a permanent shop on
      Norfolk Street https://www.fullcircleshop.co.uk/. You can also follow them on instagram @fullcircleshopuk.
    • Supermarkets – Sainsbury’s in the biggest and cheapest in town and offer a range of loose and unpackaged veg. Aim to go early weekday mornings when they’re more likely to be fully stocked on the loose veg items. It’s worth noting neither Sainsbury’s or M&S in town pay the living wage to staff but Aldi and Lidl do (their a little further afield on Hinston Road / Newmarket Road but you can pop on your bike for a 10-15 min cycle there!).
    • There are two Co-ops closer to St Regis and Chesterton Road accommodation, but note the SPAR opposite Stir often has unpackaged farm produce.
    • Radmore Farm shop is another good one in this direction – they offer zero-waste options on everything from laundry detergent to chocolate! They’ve also started doing deliveries too. Check them out here https://www.radmorefarmshop.co.uk/ & IG: @radmorefarmshop. They also stock local honey, homemade cakes, and cleaning materials.
    • Plumbs’ Dairry is a great option if you want to find some plastic free milk, and they offer great delivery and organic options: https://www.plumbs-dairy.co.uk/
    • Be sure to also check out Holland & Barrett in Lion’s Yard (though they can get a bit ££), all the independent supermarkets on Mill Road (LOTS of unpackaged and veggie options) as well as Cambridge Organic Food Company as a great place to order weekly groceries from with minimal packaging, no plastic and great groceries https://www.cambridgeorganic.co.uk
  10. Borrow a Bag: If you’re heading to the shops and realise you’ve forgotten to bring bags then you can head to Old Court Porter’s Lodge, and borrow a tote for the trip. Don’t forget to return the tote bag again at a later date so that others in need can borrow them too!

Reading and Resource Recommendations:

https://zero.giki.earth - A really great resource which helps you calculate your carbon footprint and then provides a list of steps you can take to reduce your emissions. You can filter ideas / steps by the size of change your willing to make or area of your life you want to focus on.

Check out Suzanne Simard's amazing Mother Tree project here: https://mothertreeproject.org

This book is a great reference for ways to reduce your carbon footprint and be more environmentally friendly (and it debunks some myths around this too):
Is It Really Green? - Georgina Wilson-Powell

Another great read if you want an indepth analysis of our carbon emission crisis and renewable routes to remission is: Sustainable Energy - Without The Hot Air by David Mackay

I'd also really recommend the following two books to (re)connect you with the immense wonders of nature:
Finding the Mother Tree - Suzanne Simard
The Overstory - Richard Powers