Last updated: 29/04/19
Welcome to the overview of SOAS Students' Union's sustainability work!
Awards & Accreditations
Most of the work done by the Union on all things sustainability-related fall under the umbrella of the SOAS Environmental Movement - follow the facebook page to stay up to date with what's going on! The group includes members of the various environmental societies. You can get in touch by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also get in touch with the Students' Union environment officer on email@example.com - this is a part-time volunteer role, and the officer sits on the Students' Union executive committee, making sure to represent environmental concerns during the weekly executive committee meetings to determine Union policy & direction. Beyond this, the Union is also trying to integrate environmental concerns into the way it functions in various ways. At present the Union is completing an application to the NUS Green Impact Award, and is following various suggestions to help embed sustainability into the way the Union functions.
At SOAS there is a separate Sustainability Team which is hired by the University, and carries out sustainability-related work at SOAS, London School of Tropical Hygiene & Birkbeck. They work under the brand name 'Bloomsbury Greenthing'. The Union sometimes collaborates with them, for example to support work done to achieve the EcoCampus ISO 14001 accreditation for SOAS Main Building, as well as providing information to write up a pamphlet detailing sustainability-related content about SOAS. However most of the sustainability work the Union does is carried out by students & Union staff.
Carbon savings within the University buildings themselves e.g. energy efficiency & electricity management is mainly co-ordinated by SOAS Estates, and particularly by the Bloomsbury Energy Manager Stephen McKinnell. Estates have published a Carbon Management plan 2010-2020, with ambitious reduction targets that they are on track to meet. They are currently drawing up a new Carbon Management plan - and the S.U. is publicly asking them to commit to zero carbon.
The Union has an 'environmental steering committee', which is made up of the SU General Manager, the SU Governance & Communications coordinator, the SU Environment Officer, three sabbatical officers, and representatives from several SU environmental societies. The group meets roughly once a month to discuss ongoing environmental campaigns, projects & initiatives within the Union and the school more widely. Please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to get involved. Meeting minutes: 31/01/18 22/03/18 01/02/19 04/02/19 13/03/19
Check out our environmental impact register here, and our SMART action plan to combat these here!
There are lots of environmental societies here at SOAS - some societies include environment-related work, but here are a few of the explicitly environment-focused societies:
Bike Fixing Society
Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND Society)
Common Ground Garden
Environmental Justice Society
Fossil Free SOAS
Vegetarian & Vegan Society
Cycling support - we have a bike repair stand, the Union hosts second-hand bike sales every 3 months on-campus, as well as Dr.Bike bike repair sessions & bike maintenance training sessions. And we have an amazing Cycle-Op group that fixes bikes for free once a week during term time!
Coffee cups - the Union is working on a campaign to eradicate disposable coffee cups on-campus (the shop currently goes through 5,000+ per week). This has included adding a 25p charge on takeaway cups, giving out free reusable cups at the start of the year, and all reps and officers can only redeem their free hot drinks while using a reusable cup. Check out results from our hot drinks survey run in January 2018 here! Also check out our latest coffee report card here.
Water bottle reduction - the Union is working on a campaign to reduce them on-campus
Bin trial - the Union, Estates & the Sustainability have teamed up to trial bin units that include recycling, general waste & food waste. Got an opinion on them? Please fill out our bin survey to give feedback
Sustainability podcast - SOAS Environmental Movement has taken to SOAS Radio to share environmental-related news through the medium of podcast!
Enviromenstrualism - the Union currently gives out free pads & tampons, but these are disposable. SOAS S.U. is looking into providing reusable alternatives. There is currently a pilot project selling Mooncups (reusable menstrual cups) and reusable pads at a subsidized cost (ask in room G6 for more info). Check out results from our student menstrual product survey here!
Food Co-op - SOAS Food Co-op offers high quality and ethically sourced food staples, cosmetics and household products at trade price and in bulk. Peanut butter, coconut oil, dates, grains, pulses, shampoo, ecover ... Etc. All at trade price! This is student run, and operates at close to zero waste
SOAS Beekeepers - we set up a bee garden on the 4th floor to provide an opportunity for people to find out more about how bees make up an integral part of our food system. We care for our bees on the roof of SOAS where people can learn all about the fascinating ways a colony of bees works and how to look after it. Those interested in joining can learn how to take care of a colony first-hand, as well as help in the maintenance of the garden where we grow herbs and plants that our pollinators love
Youth Strike 4 Climate - taking part in and supporting the global youth strikes for climate
#PlasticFreeSOAS - a new campaign to champion zero waste on campus
Coffee ground recycling - the S.U. shop collects its coffee grounds and sends them to be recycled into bioenergy. This saves them from going to landfill and rotting
Check out our current action plan for campaigns, organised as SMART goals! Please contact email@example.com if you'd like to get involved.
Green Community Fund - yearly fund provided by Solar SOAS that is open to students, accepts applications of campus project ideas with an environmental focus
Past successful campaigns
Water Fountains - water fountains & drinking water points installed on every floor in 2015, partly thanks to work done by the S.U. environment officers at the time - previously there was only one water fountain on the lower ground floor
Divestment of SOAS' endowment - 1st University in England (and 2nd in the UK) to commit to divesting endowment out of fossil fuels (2015), and the 1st University to announce it has successfully done so (2017) - thanks to campaigning by the Fossil Free SOAS society
Solar SOAS - the first University Community Energy Project in the UK, with 114 panels installed on the SOAS Old Building roofs in 2016 owned and run by students, which generates an annual Green Community Fund
Passed UGM motions related to the environment:
2011-12: No bottled water in the S.U. shop
2012-13: 20p be levied on each polystyrene box taken from the Refectory
2012-13: Meat free mondays (also fish free)
2013-14: Fossil Free SOAS
2014-15: Fossil Free SOAS: Call on SOAS to Remove its Investments from Fossil Fuels
2014-15: Proposal for Increased Drinking Water Facilities
2014-15: Energy bill of rights
2014-15: Meat free Monday
2014-15: Support Solar SOAS
2014-15: Expand the Food Coop
2015-16: Determine to divest from nuclear technology, waste or weapons and commit SOAS and its organisations to of a 'nuclear free zone'.
2017-18: Eliminating Plastic Cutlery at SOAS S.U. Shop & Bar
2017-18: Increase Disposable Hot Drinks Cup Charge at SOAS to 50p
2017-18: SOAS S.U. to call on Keir Starmer MP to support the Divest Parliament campaign
2017-18: Make SOAS a frack-free University
2018-19: Introduce a uniform bin system across the school
2018-19: Demand big containers in the refectory for sauces and salt/ pepper
2018-19: Remove non-metal cutlery in the refectory
2018-19: SOAS Students' Union Declares a Climate Emergency
Awards & Accreditations
NUS Green Impact Award Excellent, 2017/18
People & Planet Green University League 59th place, 2017 - Slipped from 25th in 2016/17, and 49th in 2015/16)
NUS Green Impact Award Excellent Outstanding, 2015/16 - (didn't apply for it in 2016/17, currently working on an application, get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to learn more)
EcoCampus ISO-14001, 2016 - EcoCampus Platinum Award
Brite Green Award, 2015 - For achieving ‘outstanding carbon reductions’, placing third out of 131 higher education institutions in a report conducted by sustainability consultants Brite Green
Hot drinks survey Jan 2018
S.U. annual survey June 2018
Menstrual product survey April 2019
Takeaway cup report card Feb 2019
CO2LONIALISM: Climate Change is a Racist Issue, Jan 15th 2019
Green Week 2019
Check out the SOAS Environmental Movement facebook page to keep up-to-date with events!
If you are interested in getting involved with any of the above, please contact email@example.com