Ethical & Environmental Issues at Pembroke

Pembroke Green News

Pembroke College is consistently recognised as one of the greenest Cambridge colleges and in 2014-15 we were the fourth most environmentally friendly college according to the CUECS Green League Table (www.cuecs.co.uk/). We also achieved a Gold Green Impact Award in 2016 (www.greenimpact.org.uk/cambridge) and will be going for Gold again this year! We are still planning to improve energy efficiency in many areas, and reduce the college's carbon footprint through a number of schemes. We have recently conducted a thermal imaging survey to identify key areas for improvement.

If you wish to receive regular-ish email updates about Green events in Cambridge, and progress being made in Pembroke, please email jp-green@pem.cam.ac.uk and I will add you to the mailing list!  You could also join the Pembroke Orchard group on facebook to get involved with more green events.  

If you enjoy the procrastination opportunities made available to you via Facebook, then do not hesitate to like the Student Switch-Off , a university wide energy-saving competition between Cambridge colleges with loads of prizes (usually Ben and Jerry’s ice cream) up for grabs! Also join the Pembroke Exchange group on Facebook; somewhere where you can advertise items you no longer need and vice versa. It’s perfect for bops, swaps and props!

External links

There is also a University-wide Green campaign, run by CUSU Ethical Affairs. If you are interested in being involved in environmental/ethical campaigning at the University level, get in touch with them. Any help is always welcome. The Ethical team has been particularly active this year, and excellent progress is being made in terms of individual colleges, and university departments.

The Cambridge Hub is a student-led organisation which aims to co-ordinate all of the different ethical/environmentally minded organisations acting in Cambridge. It is definitely worth checking out, as a great source of information about the different groups and societies around Cambridge, and what they each aim to do. Their weekly email is a very useful source of information; if you are interested, subscribe here.

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Ten Ways To Be Green In Pembroke

Here are what I consider to be my 'top ten' green tips for living in Pembroke. If you disagree, then tell me. If you agree, then it'd be lovely if you tell me that too! All of the tips are fairly easy to do - no major change in lifestyle needed - so there's no excuse not to try them! Just click on a link to take you to that section of the page, or scroll down and have a look at them all.

Recycling---Heating---Lights---Plastic Bags---Drying Clothes---Reporting Faults---Personal Electronics---Washing Up---Trough---Shopping

1) Recycling

Recycling is so simple at Pembroke. There's a mixed recycling box in every gyp room (if there isn't in your gyp room then e-mail me and there soon will be!) in which you can recycle most things. Larger or more obscure items you might have to recycle yourself, but if you want to check what you can recycle, just send me an email. Check this page for details of all the recycling available in Pembroke and let me know if you would like any more facilities.

2) Heating

Some parts of Pembroke can be especially chilly in the winter months. Fear not! In the bottom of Q staircase live the maintenance men who are happy to loan a heater to warm your cockles. However, these heaters use an awful lot of power, so please do remember to turn them off when the room has warmed up and to shut your windows before turning your heater on. Pembroke wastes a lot of energy by not always doing this. :(

3) Lights

Your main room light, your desk light, the gyp room, over your sink, in the toilet... They're really easy to switch off when you don't need them. You're an intelligent person. Switch on to switching off

4) Plastic Bags

No one wants to pay for plastic bags at the supermarket – so remember to take a reusable one! Sainsbury's do good sturdy bags and Tesco's have ones with ladybirds on them - you just need to remember them when you head off into town. For bigger shops I sometimes take a rucksack which stops me trying to balance all the bags on my handlebars. Lots of types of plastic bags can be recycled (see here) and there's a facility for this at Sainsbury's. 

5) Drying Clothes

Not that I'm suggesting we all air our dirty laundry in public, but there often isn't any need to use the Pembroke driers. Picking up a drying rack (for example from Argos for a tenner) at the start of term (or borrow one from a friend) will get your washing dry, save you loads of pounds, and leave your room smelling wonderfully Alpine Fresh whenever you do a wash. 

6) Reporting Faults

Getting in touch with a friendly maintenance man when you first spot a fault with a tap, washing machine, light bulb, etc... will save you hassle in the future and stop resources being wasted in college. The guys in maintenance are really helpful and can be found in the bottom of Q staircase.

7) Personal Electronics

Of course use the equipment you feel necessary to make yourself comfortable, but make sure to turn it off when you don't need it. There are loads of computers left running in college throughout the day and it's a real shame as it wastes a lot of electricity. One good routine to get into is just to turn off all your plugs at the switch when you leave your room to go out, it's simple and makes a huge difference!

8) Washing up

No kidding, you can be green here too! Doing more washing up at once uses far less water and washing up liquid than doing a little bit at a time. A washing up bowl will also reduce the size of the sink and thus the amount of water you use! You can find eco-friendly washing up liquid in shops such as Sainsbury's and Oxfam. 

9) Trough

There's a whole heap of stuff that the catering department does to help Pembroke be an environmentally and ethically friendly place. Plus cooking for such large numbers uses far less electricity. Taking advantage of what trough has to offer will help make a dint in the college's impact on the planet. And it's really tasty too! Eating wisely in general is a great way of being environmentally friendly*, for instance, vegetarianism, or if you’re really enthusiastic, veganism! If that is a bit too much for you, try reducing the amount of meat you eat e.g. Meat-Free Mondays!

[*What you eat is one of the largest determinants of your personal carbon footprint. Certain foods are particularly energy intensive to produce, such as meat and dairy products. There are a variety of reasons why production of these foods is worse for the environment: livestock often produce large amounts of methane, the most potent greenhouse gas; large amounts of grain are required to sustain livestock over winter, inefficiently converting precious food/biofuel resources into meat/dairy; there are various ethical issues associated with the milk industry, not least that the female cows are kept pregnant/recently pregnant to maintain milk supplies, with their calves removed from the mother just after birth and all male calves culled. It has been calculated that if you live on a diet of entirely milk and meat, walking is actually a more carbon-intensive form of transport than driving! So, to reduce your carbon footprint, try to generally cut down on meat and dairy!]

10) Shopping

This isn't strictly 'in college', but what you buy in shops has a big impact over three (or more) years at Pembroke. One of the simplest and most effective things which can be done is to buy things which have minimal packaging. By not taking home lots of bits of cardboard, plastic, foam, and the rest you're reducing your waste output and carbon footprint. Cambridge has some of the best charity shops I've ever seen. Head out to the Grafton Centre where the shops are piled high with useful and good quality items.

Comments and disagreements are most welcome at jp-green@pem.cam.ac.uk.

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This Website is maintained by the Pembroke JPC IT Officer.

The initial design was built by Vikash Patel.

Cover Photo Credits: Alex Łyszkowski  

Special Thanks to Chris

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