By Faye Murphy
Trinity is a green campus; its Green Campus committee is part of an international programme to support environmental issues within third level educational institutes. Trinity’s Green Campus Committee is responsible for the majority of environmental initiatives occurring within the campus, from the introduction of new modules to building insect hotels. The Green Campus Committee consists of 9 subcommittees, some of which are more active than others. As the subcommittees range in many topics, you can easily find one that suits you.
This subcommittee focuses on projects related to biodiversity and ensuring that we recognise the value of nature and the ecosystem services it provides. The Biodiversity Subcommittee has had many successful events in the past year, including a rewilding talk with over 140 attendees. In addition, The Biodiversity Subcommittee has been working with Jane Stout over the summer to carry out a biodiversity audit of campus. The subcommittee has also recently received funding to install a bird feeder for Trinity Halls.
The Communications Subcommittee’s central role is to raise awareness about environmental issues and campus sustainability. This subcommittee mainly focuses on social media as it can be a great tool to get the word out. Therefore, any Facebook or Instagram content you see is due to this subcommittee! In the past year, this subcommittee has not only been keeping the green campus social media aesthetically pleasing but also created a video of many Trinity students reading Amanda Gorman’s poem “Earthrise” for Green Week 2021.
The Education Subcommittee focuses on educating the college community on the many ways to reduce their carbon footprint. This subcommittee promotes the research and entrepreneurship programmes being carried out within campus that are pushing for a more environmentally friendly market. The subcommittee is currently planning ways to support students in Direct Provision, as the majority of these refugees are as a result of climate-induced atrocities. For example, this subcommittee has been applying for grants that can then be used to provide students in direct provision with leap cards so that transport to education is not used as a barrier.
The Energy Subcommittee’s primary focus is on reducing energy consumption. Most of Trinity’s electricity and the entirety of Trinity’s heating is fuelled by fossil fuels. The Government Procurement office dictates this issue. While the subcommittee cannot change this, they have supported many initiatives to reduce energy consumption as a whole. This includes the recent Green Labs initiative supported by The Institute of Neuroscience. Labs use up to 10 times more energy than a similar-sized office, so this initiative can significantly reduce Trinity’s energy consumption.
Trinity has been running a Green Week since 2003. This is organised by the events subcommittee. Green Week is a week of environmental events, including dance, films, dinners, swap shops, bike repair, to name a few. Green Week 2021 stood to be hugely successful, despite being online for the first time. An online Green Week allowed it to be an all-island affair and had the capacity to spread the events even further than usual. The events subcommittee also organise Earth Day as well as ad hoc environmental-related events all year round.
Food and Resources
As animal agriculture is responsible for up to 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the Food and Resources Subcommittee focuses on choosing more plant-based options to reduce campus’ emissions. About 30% of Trinity staff and students already identify themselves as vegan or vegetarian; the food and resources subcommittee work together with the caterers on campus to implement more local and creative plant-based options and reduce consumption of red meat in particular. Even though climate action is above all a political task, we can still radically change our impact on this planet by consciously choosing what we eat three times a day. This subcommittee is working with Trinity to incentivise healthier and plant-based food choices.
Sustainable Procurement relates to consciously purchasing products and services produced in a socially and environmentally responsible way. The Sustainable Procurement Policy and guidelines were released in 2020, and this subcommittee works to make recommendations on what the college should be buying, be it in day-to-day purchases, research equipment or construction projects. If you have any new ideas or suggestions on spending, this subcommittee is for you!
Trinity has managed to reduce our overall waste volume over the past three years, but we still have a way to go as global waste is projected to grow by 70% by 2050. This subcommittee works on eliminating plastics where possible, educating our community about ways to reduce waste, reuse options and how to recycle correctly. The waste subcommittee aims to educate our community by providing easy solutions for students. One of the main achievements of this subcommittee in the past year is the introduction of its Ecobricks initiative. Ecobricks can be created from plastic waste and then donated to their specific “Ecobrick donation site” within campus. A tutorial on how to make Ecobricks can be found on the Green Campus social media. The Waste Subcommittees aim to use these Ecobricks to create something new such as garden walls or furniture.
Water consumption on campus has reduced by 45% in the past ten years, however recently it has been beginning to rise again. The Green Labs initiative hopes to help campus regain this reduction as labs use four times more water than an office of similar size. While the Green Labs initiative is a start, this subcommittee is currently seeking more water enthusiasts to find more initiatives for water conservation within campus.
Each of these subcommittees is open to recruiting new members throughout the academic year. So, if you are passionate about raising awareness of environmental issues or are an activist for a plant-based diet, Trinity’s Green Campus Committee has a subcommittee for you! The Green Campus Committee meets every month to discuss each subcommittee’s initiatives. These meetings are an excellent opportunity to begin your journey to creating a more sustainable campus.
* all information was correct as of writing. Since September 2021, Green Campus has renamed their subcommittees but each still holds the same values.
Visit: https://www.tcd.ie/provost/sustainability/greencampuscommittee/ for more information.