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Green Impact at the University of Manchester

The Green Impact network consists of a wide breadth of organisations, teams and individuals. This month showcases the project at the University of Manchester.

The University of Manchester has a well-developed Green Impact community, with teams across several different campuses. We talked with Lynda McIntosh and Holly Seager about their Green Impact teams and how they�re reaching out beyond their departmental colleagues.

What�s your department, how long have you been involved in Green Impact and why did you originally get involved?

Lynda: I sit in the faculty office for Humanities, and have been involved with Green Impact (and a sustainability enthusiast) since 2012. I originally got involved through working at the Sustainable Consumption Institute, and again during an office move when items needed to be re-homed and recycled. I guess I realised that I couldn�t wait for someone else to be responsible for my environmental footprint, and put out the call for like-minded people. We have someone from every department on our team.  

Holly: Our Green Impact Team is for the Atrium - a shared service space, housing teams from the Careers Service and Student Support with representation from both services.  This is the fifth year an Atrium team has participated in Green Impact; we won Bronze the first year, Silver the second and Gold for the last two years. I personally have been involved for the last three years. I coordinate the team and am one of two permanent members of staff on the team; the other four team members are graduate interns on one-year contracts.  

I got involved as I am passionate about making a difference to the environment and I was excited to have an opportunity to do this at work.  I was also looking for a new challenge that I could fit around my day-to-day responsibilities.  I�ve stayed involved for three years as it is also great fun.

What�s the one magic ingredient to your Green Impact team which helps you work effectively?

Lynda: Our team�s success is down to each member's individual belief that our actions make a difference to the planet. We also have a great deal of respect for each other, and so we inspire and motivate one another. We always feel free at our monthly meetings, to share the latest �green� trends and campaigns, and to say what we�re doing personally to become a little bit greener. Everyone contributes to making suggestions for our office Green Impact activities.

Holly: The magic ingredient to our team is the balance of its members.  Having new interns every year gives us new enthusiasm and fresh ideas while Mariana and I provide continuity and experience. I also bring my strong organisational skills to coordinating our activities and maximising the impact of the time we have.

What events/campaigns have you run?

Lynda: Over the past four years the team has: shared recipes for Meat Free Mondays and promoted Veganuary; run a 'reduce your water use' campaign as part of International Water Day; switched the office to double-sided printing; asked for support to have the water cooler and office kettle removed; organised plant swaps/sales and Fairtrade Bake sales to raise money for charities; taken lunchtime strolls to learn about insect hotels; and in December we ran the second annual '12 Green Days of Christmas' campaign. This month, we secured funding and ran a Hug Mug campaign that has resulted in 17 staff making the commitment to give up using disposable cups in exchange for a free bamboo Hug Mug.  

Holly: We have just held our annual Christmas Present Swap Shop for the third year running, and it has become a much-anticipated event by its attendees (one came specially this year despite being on maternity leave!). It�s a two hour event over lunchtime with the aim of swapping any unwanted Christmas presents!  Anyone who wants to take a gift without a swap needs to give a �3 donation for charity. We invite colleagues from our working areas, and Green Impact teams from across the University.  We also promote the event on Twitter and welcome students.  I am always amazed at the range of gifts brought, and how items which are hated by the original recipient (who often apologise for bringing something so awful) get snapped up instantly by someone else! This year we had 83 free swaps made, �110 raised for charity, and 40 leftover items donated to a local charity shop.

Chris Worden, Environmental Sustainability Assistant at University of Manchester said of Lynda and Holly's Green Impact teams:

�Having over 70 active Green Impact teams is absolutely great, but coupled with the size of the University (population and campus) this makes it a challenge to maintain support and engagement with all participants and teams. Proactive teams such as those Lynda and Holly are involved in provide fantastic support to myself and the wider Environmental Sustainability Team in a whole host of ways. They also help Green Impact to become a more participant-led initiative, with accessible activities and messages throughout the year, helping to push the sustainability agenda.�