Winchester students tackle climate change with chewing gum and CDs

22 Nov 2017

Initiatives spearheaded by students at the University of Winchester have scooped two national awards for innovative sustainability initiatives at the Green Gown Awards 2017.

The first Green Gown award was for an unusual and highly successful initiative to cut waste on campus. Students and staff at the University have increased the use of reusable coffee cups by 900 per cent since the introduction of the University's own reusable cups, made in part from recycled chewing gum, last November. The company who manufactures the cups, Gum-tec, collect the gum from special pink recycling bins on campus, treat it and turn it into a mouldable composite. To encourage the use of reusable cups, students and staff now have to pay a 25p surcharge on all hot and cold drinks served in a disposable cup. The introduction of the Gum-tec cups and the surcharge has resulted in almost 35,000 fewer non-recyclable disposable cups being used on campus with sales of drinks in reusable cups leaping from three in every 100 drinks to over thirty in every 100 drinks.

"The simple change in pricing and the psychological impact was impressive and the addition of Gum-tec is innovative and exciting. The further opportunities for education around recycling are clear to see and there is great potential for adoption of those ideas not only in other universities and colleges but the wider world also," the judges commented.

The second award was for the release of an album featuring 11 songs about climate change written and performed by students and staff at the University. This Changes Everything, released on the University's own record label Splendid Fred Records, has been transformative in helping Winchester students engage with the issues surrounding climate change. The album is available to download from iTunes.

The judges said the original record was an "innovative project inviting students to engage with climate change in a creative and thoughtful way."

Vice-Chancellor at the University of Winchester, Joy Carter, said: "we are passionate about putting climate change at the centre every students' degree, whatever subject they are studying. Both of these initiatives show that all of us can make a difference in all sorts of creative and inspiring ways. I am so proud of what our students and staff are doing to make a difference."

Glenn Fosbraey, label boss and Programme Leader for the University's Creative Writing degree, said: "A great deal of work went into making and promoting the album, so it was wonderful to have been recognised in this way. We are all very proud to have won the award, and Splendid Fred Records remains dedicated to raising awareness of climate change," said

Success in the Green Gown Awards follows news that the University has climbed People and Planet University League 2017/18. Now placed 32nd out of 154 universities in the League, Winchester scored highly for ethical investment, education for sustainable development and sustainability staffing.

The photograph above of the University of Winchester team at the Green Gown Awards 2017 shows (left to right): David Nuttall, The Universities Catering Organisation; Mat Jane, Liz Harris, Tom Gould-Davies and Carole Parkes, all University of Winchester, and Lemn Sissay, Awards co-host. Photograph by Mark Copeland, Envision Images.

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