It’s down to all of us to tackle climate change and halt environmental damage.
These issues are as individual as they are universal, as local as they are global, and from cycling to work to cutting energy use, pioneering the latest green technology to protecting local wildlife, UEA’s Climate Stars are doing their bit.
If you've taken that extra step to help protect our planet, whatever it might be, then you too could be a Climate Star.
Student Meg Watts, SU Environment Officer"We know that the climate crisis is here, and although I do not have a professionally trained scientific skillset, I know I can still contribute to the cause!
"I produce writing, art, radio content and accessible video content for a variety of environmental charities, including Norfolk Wildlife Trust and Rewriting Extinction. I also run accessible nature and climate writing workshops, with a focus on incorporating antiracist, intersectional environmentalism into people’s creative exploits. This is epitomised by Any Last Words, the climate writing and art competition that I direct. We aim to create emotional, compelling tales of climate breakdown that are rooted in reality, whilst also kickstarting cross-school collaboration between artists and scientists.
"In my role as SU environment officer, I work to support students in their efforts, to ensure that sustainable and ecologically sound practices are in the forefront of UEA’s mind, and to ensure that our activism is shaped by an inclusive and decolonial ethos. You can experience this at an on-campus COP26 festival this October.
"Again, I can’t reiterate the point enough; no matter your skillset, you can still help to fight the climate crisis."
Student Freyja Elwood, founder of Idun Collective, which is helping people change from fast to slow fashion“During the first lockdown, like most others I fell down the online shopping hole and realised how little brands I knew that were both sustainable AND affordable. I set up an Instagram page – the @iduncollective – to help promote the brands and products I found.
“The more I researched the more it became apparent that our notions and habits of “consumption” were detrimental to the planet but change was very possible and other options were out there - and making sustainable choices with our clothing is the place to start.
“Since starting @iduncollective I’ve had interactions with brands like Jacquemus and The Sunday Times Style and was awarded the SustainableUEA Award for Creativity which makes me immensely proud as I balance my work with @iduncollective whilst completing my degree, doing sports and working at the University newspaper. In terms of what’s next, I can’t reveal too much but big things!”
Lucy Jeffrey, Biological Sciences graduate and founder of Bare Kind“I started Bare Kind in 2018 by dabbling in a few different plastic-free and recycled products such as reusable straws and recycled t-shirts. It wasn't until 2019 when I launched my hero product - the bamboo sock. Animals have always been very close to my heart and 10 per cent of the profits from my bamboo socks are donated to animal conservation charities.
“As I have grown older I have started to take in the disastrous consequences of human action around the world and decided I need to help. I wanted to be a vet when I was little, I have always wanted to help save animals - I just didn't know it would be through the medium of socks!
“Businesses have got to lead the way when it comes to sustainability. As a small business there are crucial steps I can take. All my packaging is plastic-free and 100% recyclable and I’m working on my carbon emissions programme – in the new year I will be working with a third party to establish my emissions and putting a plan in place to reduce my carbon emissions and offset them where I can't reduce further.”
Elise Allély-Fermé, Environmental Sciences graduate and co-founder of Youth Engaged in Wetlands"Youth Engaged in Wetlands is a youth-led volunteer network dedicated to the conservation and wise use of wetlands around the world. Our core team is composed of 12 volunteers from around the world and our mission is to give young people a platform to connect with each other whilst empowering them to help protect wetlands around world. Wetlands have some of the largest stores of carbon on the planet, which makes their protection, conservation and restoration a key nature-based solution for climate change, and yet wetlands are disappearing three times faster than forests.
"My time at UEA was critical in shaping the way that I work and think about the world today. I'm proud to be a UEA alumni, especially given the outstanding work that the University does in terms of climate change research."
Dr Sarah Eglington, PIPS Coordinator in the Graduate School Office"I'm passionate about environmental issues and always try to do my bit to combat climate change. The biggest change I've made is having solar panels installed on my roof and I always cycle whenever possible – I even manage to do my weekly supermarket shop on the bike. I try to set an example for my nine-year-old son and show him we don't need to get in the car to go everywhere.
"I have had an allotment for over 15 years and grow almost all my own food. I'm vegetarian so my food miles are very low. I try to buy mainly secondhand clothes and household items, to reduce my carbon footprint and to cut down on things going to landfill and I have recently looked to make my banking more sustainable. I’ve moved to an ethical bank that doesn't invest in fossil fuels."
UEA graduate and host of the ENV CAST podcast Mahnoor Qadir“I started a podcast a month ago to talk about environmental issues and inspire people to take action. I believe that talking about an issue as pivotal as climate change is a huge step towards finding solutions, especially in the developing world.
“It talks about various solutions from helping local communities to researching where your food comes from. I strongly believe that you have to start somewhere and as Greta Thunberg says, you are never too small to make a difference."
You can listen to it by searching ‘The ENV Cast’ on Spotify or Google Podcasts
Scarlett Woods, International Development student, and Marcus Krumins, an Environmental Sciences student, manage UEA’s student-led hedgehog conservation teamUEA recently achieved the Silver ‘Hedgehog Friendly Campus’ award through a series of pro-hedgehog initiatives. This included installing a ‘hedgehog highway’ on campus, discussing hedgehog friendly garden improvements with private landlords and involving local residents – including Patron MP Clive Lewis – in the campaign.
“Making small efforts toward wildlife conservation at university can make a huge difference in ecosystem functions at a national and global scale,” says Scarlett. “I look forward to seeing UEA achieve the Gold award as a Hedgehog friendly campus next year.”
First year student Hanna Laniado, a finalist in the Student Political Speech Competition for her speech on the climate crisis“Climate change can’t be solved by just a few people. It’s easy to do small things to help without even trying. I have been doing things like switching my search engine to Ecosia, eating less meat, saving food that I don’t eat for later, taking shorter showers (even a few minutes will help), walking or cycling somewhere instead of driving or at least taking public transport.
"It doesn’t have to be something big if you don’t have the time but changing everyday habits to become more sustainable does help. I have also started typing the words ‘eco-friendly’ before I search for something that I need to buy rather than just buying products that will be damaging to the environment in many ways.”
Buba Joof, Rural Development graduate (2000-01)"I am working for the GCCA+ Climate Resilient Coastal and Marine Zone Project for The Gambia. The project aims to increase the climate resilience of the coastal and marine zones of The Gambia. This includes the provision of a grant to be given to Civil Society Organizations and NGOs to implement actions that minimises the impact of climate change on vulnerable coastal communities and build resilient communities, minimize exposure and reduce vulnerability."
Karen Gallant, Assistant Catering Manager, pioneered the use of keep cups on campus"We used to give a five per cent discount for those customers who used a reusable cup, but uptake was low. So we decided to start charging those that needed a paper takeaway cup instead. It’s gone from 2% of people using a reusable cup to 66%. When we first started the new deal we stopped 80,000 paper cups going to landfill in just a seven week period.
"We now also sell reusable rice husk cups at cost, which helps make the scheme a success. Each year 500m tonnes of rice is grown, to which 25% is husk that would either burnt or sent to landfill.
"Unfortunately COVID restrictions mean we have only been able to do takeaway cups and containers, but as soon as we can get back to the scheme safely, we will."
Tom Everett, UEA's Landscape Manager"Campus is home to some amazing biodiversity. It’s part of a wildlife corridor along the River Yare and we have a huge number of species, from kingfishers and herons to red-listed wasps that use the oldest tree on campus as a massive feeding ground. I’ve been leading tree tours, which are very popular with the local community, and we have some lovely wildflower meadows, which I’m also hoping to achieve at home!
"We have been awarded a Green Flag Award, which shows we care about our external campus spaces and manage our grounds areas to sustainable benchmark standards. The accreditation was achieved from the dedicated work of the Grounds and Site teams, with the collaboration of Estates."
Kit Rackley, Environmental Sciences graduate and educator"While studying at UEA I specialised in meteorology and climate, and had the privilege of studying under incredible scientists like Professor Keith Briffa and his colleagues in CRU. After graduating with a degree in Environmental Sciences, I trained to be a Geography teacher and spent 13 years in a high school just outside of Norwich.
"I now work in Outreach at UEA and continue to do freelance education work – climate change is often front and centre. I help to train teachers and do consultancy work on educating about the climate crisis and my current work focusses on climate change as a school safeguarding issue, and encouraging schools to take it more seriously.
"At home we do all we can to minimise our carbon footprint. We’re 100% solar-powered and much of that energy goes into ‘fuelling’ our electric car! You can find out more about my work at geogramblings.com."
Hugh Braidwood and Bayley Wooldridge, Sportspark sustainability champions“Last year we calculated all of our sports club’s emissions from travelling to fixtures and offset this by planting 100 trees in the Norfolk Broads National Park. Once club sport is back in operation, we will calculate our department’s emissions as a whole and work to actually reduce these emissions rather than just offset by booking hybrid or electric vehicles.
“We’ve recently installed hand sanitizer stations in Sportspark which let people fill up their sanitizer without having to buy it in single-use plastic bottles. And we’ve also created a Sustainability in Sport Working Group involving our sports teams to listen to their ideas about how sport at UEA can be more sustainable. One idea we’ve implemented is a Facebook group for students to sell/giveaway any unwanted kit to stop good kit ending up in landfill.”
Modern Languages & European Studies graduate Ricky KnightRicky Knight cycled to COP21 in 2015 to deliver his community’s ten-point ‘climate pledge’
“The incentive came from a couple of good friends in Cornwall – ‘Let’s bike to Paris and deliver this to the Pope’s delegate.’ ‘This’ was a ten-point climate pledge, signed by thousands of Cornish people, an initiative from the Bishops of Truro. Thus it was that we set off from Truro Cathedral and headed across the Channel from Plymouth.
“Fact or fiction? I promise you: it rained (heavily) every day - we never dried out, not even overnight on the boat. It was uphill all the way (and back) – honest. The wind was always in our faces. But at least it stopped when we got to Paris 650 miles and eight days later (we, err, took our time).
“Getting to the epicentre of the discussions was ‘fun’; my friends gave up after a while – but I persevered until the papal delegate miraculously managed to meet me and graciously received the Pledge. Was it worth it? Most certainly. COP21 was a landmark agreement, although the targets are sadly over-optimistic, judging by recent data. But will I bike it to Glasgow? Umm, well, that really is uphill all the way.”