Students shaping our sustainability work

Your voice informing what we do

Image person holding green leaf

Your Students’ Union takes student’s voice very seriously, from representing your academic interests to selling the products that you request in our shops. Every aspect of the Students’ Union work is shaped by student feedback.

Our sustainability work is no exception.

During term one we sought feedback on student’s perceptions around ethics and sustainability and how these link to and inform University life, personal life choices and habits.

Here’s some of our findings:

76% of respondents indicated positively that being ethical and sustainable influences their life choices. 

(More often than not + Nearly always + Always)

46% of respondents positively indicated that being ethical and sustainable influences their choice of transportation.

(More often than not + Nearly always + Always)

38% of respondents positively indicated that being ethical and sustainable influences their choice of diet.

(More often than not + Nearly always + Always)

36% of respondents positively indicated that being ethical and sustainable influences their choice of clothing purchases.

(More often than not + Nearly always + Always)

36% of respondents positively indicated that being ethical and sustainable influences their shopping habits.

(More often than not + Nearly always + Always)

 

We were able to draw from the responses that most respondents responded very positively to the initial question about Lifestyle choices – suggesting that they would like to think that ethical and sustainable values have a strong influence over their life. However when asked about specific areas of lifestyle and habits, the responses were less positive.

Our survey asked deeper questions around people’s perceptions of barriers to being sustainable

 Unsurprisingly, price and convenience are the two most cited barriers to people making ethical and sustainable choices, followed by lack of recycling facilities, lack of information and poor public transport links.

So how has this student feedback informed the Students’ Union and the University’s work?

Pricing.

While we can’t change global supply chains and wholesale prices, we can sometimes make a difference to the pennies in your pocket:

  • The Students’ Union Advice Centre is a free advice service for students, they are specialists in student’ finances; from benefits and bursaries to bargains and budgeting. The Advice service has saved a whopping £99,887.90 for students to 31st March this academic year! Check out our Advice Money pages
  • Our popular Advice Podcasts not only include money saving tips but also energy saving tips and links such as sustainability and energy advice from NUS and Money Saving Expert.

We strive hard to bring value promotions to you via our shops and venues:

  • Our Bring Your Own Cup promotion offers year-round discounts to students who choose to use their own reusable cups when purchasing hot drinks in Squeeze and Squeeze in Verve, but throughout Green Week, we offered Double Discounts, saving a huge 50p discount per hot drink whilst saving the environment from disposable cup waste too!
  • We also offered Double Magic Stamps to customers who swapped out their diary milk for coconut, oat or soya alternatives.
  • Ember Lounge offers Meat Free Meal promotions throughout the year, but also offered Double Meat Free Stamps during Green Week.
  • Lots of free samples from our Reduce, Reuse Refill product range were given to students during Green Week along with a free coffee offer with every re-usable cup purchased from your Union shops

Our January news article featured  this BBC video clip explains vegan food shopping on a budget from a student’s perspective.

Convenience:

Water stations are located throughout the Students’ Union and University where students can refill drinking bottles for free, check out our Hydration Stations article here.

The University has also water reduction systems across the estate and we have shared the University’s guide to recycling and waste management on campus

Your Union shops make it easier for you to help the homeless by recycling your used crisp packets in store; so far we’ve donated 628 washed and cut packets which you can read about here. And they stock a huge range of Fairtrade products, recycled stationary and Fairtrade and organic clothing.

Both the Union and University make it easier for you to buy with confidence on campus; our Union venues only sell Fairtrade hot drinks and have a whole range of organic and ethical menu items to choose from as well as our Reuse and Refill shop. The University’s Costa outlets are aligned with the Rainforest Alliance.

During our Green Week in March, we bought a Green Fair to your doorstep – hosting a range of sustainable and vegan stalls in Ember Square from vegan foods, jams and sweet treats to candles and cosmetics.

And we offered free entry to our Friday club night in return for donations to our Food Hub

Recycling

Recycling facilities have been a hot topic for students, there’s lots of recycling facilities on and around campus but based on student feedback, we know there’s more work to do in partnership with the University to improve these further. The University’s interactive map identifies recycling compounds at Minton and Leek Road Houses, but we know that more students would recycle more waste if more locations made it more convenient.

Outside of the university, we have previously shared local council resources and information about recycling and waste management such as guides from:

Stoke on Trent City Council

Staffordshire County Council

Cheshire County Council

Shropshire Council

Recycling bins are located in all of shops and venues and our weekly student newsletters have regular features on sustainability and recycling tips.

Lack of information

Sharing knowledge so that students can make informed ethical and sustainable lifestyle choices is really important. The Students’ Union aims to provide relevant student-focussed sustainability related information to our members in a way that easily digestible and encourages students to get involved.

Our Sustainable Union webpages are packed with events and news articles which we think students want to know about, such as:

We’ve also shared hints and tips from the university about sustainability at home

Public Transport

The Students’ Union shops sell student rate First Bus tickets available as 3 Day, one week or three month rider tickets – to make it easier for students to get around the City of Stoke on Trent more easily via public transport

Increasing the use of public transport within our community can have a huge environmental benefit. Staffordshire University is located very close to Stoke-on-Trent's train station, allowing easy access to the West Midlands rail network.

There are also local bus services which can be used to travel to the university.  You can use a journey planner to find the best route for travel to and from the university. 

We recently shared an update on the 15 Minute Campus Project commissioned by the university and conducted by out lecturers and students here at staffs

Improving public transport links is certainly a challenge and we’ve worked with the University to develop a student survey which is due to be launched later in the year so we can understand more about student travel and the challenges faced.

Keeping sustainability on the agenda, our recent Better Staffs Sustainability Forum produced some really useful feedback from students which will further inform the work of your Students’ Union. If you have any additional comments, feedback or suggestions about sustainability at Staffs, please get in touch at theunion@staffs.ac.uk

 

 

 

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