Friday, 11 March 2011

Why being GREEN is the latest craze!

Earlier this month I went down to the Queens building to meet the ‘DMU Green Initiatives’ group to find out more and get involved in their ‘Green Light Festival’. Who are they? I hear you cry… Well they are a student-led group of staff, students and local environmental groups that provide opportunities for students to get involved in green projects and offer individuals the chance to pilot their own campaigns.

Having a ‘carbon footprint’ the size of King Kong, I am probably the worst person in the whole of Leicester to talk about light bulbs and being energy efficient, but I’m doing it. Why?

Because like many other people and businesses worldwide, I’m starting to realise that this band-wagon is on a trail to success which can change the world. You need only look around DMU campus to see the growing importance of ‘being green’. The coffee shop, now converted into a Starbucks outside the student union is a primary example of a business that has got greener over the last five years. The giant coffee chain was criticised in 2008 after claims it wasted millions of litres of water every day by leaving taps running. Since then, the company has been committed to new environmental initiatives and as not only turned off the taps but also uses 100% recyclable cups.

However it’s not just Starbucks that is holding the green beacon. All across Europe and in countries such as America, China and Mexico, huge money deals are being struck for the rapid transport of hundreds of millions of energy-saving devices – e.g. bulbs that, once installed all over the home, can cut overall household emissions by 8 per cent. The environment has become an even bigger issue since the millennium and it gets bigger by the day.

It is for reasons like these that The Green Light Festival took place, and was such a success. The white electric powered Smart car that was parked outside the Queens Building on the day epitomised the whole festival. The festival was bursting with practical workshops, music, art and local food – all boasting a green initiative. I spoke to co-founder of the DMU Green Initiatives, Eve Carter; Eve is a second year student at DMU and is studying Design Crafts.

She said: “The biggest incentive for students to be greener is that it saves money.” Eve and the green initiatives group are urging students to sign up or get involved in any way they can, even if that be by just trying to be greener in their everyday lives.

She said: “The easiest way students can get involved is by doing simple things like switching off lights, recycling more and walking instead of using a car”.

The event was a huge success and everyone attending was invited to get involved in some hands-on activities. Cyclemagic were on hand to help visitors make wristbands out of old tyres while the DMU Green Initiatives group were making wallets and purses out of old fruit juice cartons. Leicester interfaith youth group HUB were present with some very useful ways of saving the planet, for example signing up to ‘say no to junk mail’ here. Groups such as Bikes 4 All who sell refurbished bikes from around £40 were outside the building and are keen to encourage students to bike rather than drive or use public transport.

I for one, used to think that being green was just a bore, something that wasn’t worth the time. However the green light festival really did open my eyes. Such little effort is needed to be green it thoroughly surprised me. If you think it’s not easy being Green, think again. An energy saving light bulb lasts 10,000 hours compared to the normal 1,500 hours of a standard bulb. 10,000 hours! Just imagine what you could do in that time, that is 416 days! Put in that bulb my friend and you need not come back to change it for a very long time, well another 13.6676431 months to be precise.

How many DMU students does it take to change a lightbulb?

Two. One to go and buy alcohol and one to call the electrician.

Unplugging things that glow saves more money than you would think. Did you know that LED light on your TV, mobile phone charger or printer that you leave on standby burns around £125.00 a year! You could buy a new mobile phone with that money, and a pretty decent one too.

Next time you go to the sink to fill up that glass with water, consider this. In the next five years countries across the world, including the UK could face a serious water crisis and that dripping tap wastes 336 litres of water a day! In ‘cans of pop terms’, that is 1018 cans, that is some water! Household water consumption has increased by 200% since the 1950s and with the ever-growing population this number will only go up. So let’s save water now and help the world as well as ourselves.

But the greatest way to save energy for us students has to be this next one. Leave the washing up as long as possible! That’s right, let the pots and pans accumulate forever, well not quite, but at least until you have a full sink of dishes to use water for. The average student household does around 150 loads of dishes per year using an astonishing 6819 litres of water, that is in ‘cans of pop terms’, wait for it… 20,663 cans!

All DMU accommodation is in walking distance to University and to frankly, anywhere a student’s desire may take them. So WALK! Why waste the money on cars or buses when you can wake yourself up after that hard night out with a blast of beautiful fresh air.

Green issues are at the fore front of everything right now whether that be political, commercial or in business. Profit margins are being decided by how green a company is and individuals must follow suit to decrease the severe dangers to the planet. As students we are the people this will affect, and we are the ones that can put a halt to it. Let’s get green.

P.S. Turn the light off behind me.

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