Catching up with Eco Soc: Increasing the Environmental Consciousness of John’s

By Freya Butler, Second Year Geography Student

Photo Credits: @johnsecosoc via instagram

Caring about the planet is all the rage right now. You’ve probably noticed that there’s been a recent surge in environmental consciousness, from blog posts about plastic in the ocean, to the sustainability festival at the Cathedral in aid of the Durham University Charity Fashion Show.

Now is the perfect time to check in with Vicky Trudgill and Roisin Smith (Co-Presidents) to see how John’s very own eco-warriors are getting on! (For transparency, I am secretary of John’s Eco Soc and so have a vested interest, but really, so should everyone!) .

With your support, Eco Soc can keep getting bigger and better. To quote Vicky ‘Forget Brexit – think about recycling!’ – of course this is hyperbolic (Brexit is very important) but the sentiment stands.

Photo Credits: @johnsecosoc via Instagram

Why Is Eco Soc important to the John’s community?

Speaking to Vicky and Roisin, it’s clear that for both of them their motivation for running Eco Soc stems from some good old introspection and paying attention to the way we live our lives. Whilst John’s is not a wasteful college per se, there’s a sense of responsibility that comes from knowing that we are the producers of waste (in the forms of water, electricity, food) and we don’t necessarily know or control what ultimately happens to it.

It’s all well and good watching and reading about how we impact the planet, but Eco Soc aims to translate this into action by expanding the abilities of each member of our community to reflect on the way we choose to live and to act.

Photo Credits: @johnsecosoc via Instagram

How You Can Get Involved:  

  • Recycle! Yes, it can be confusing because different councils have different rules but, ultimately, it’s not that hard. You can look up the rules for Durham here. Roisin mentions that currently, thin plastic cannot be recycled, which is something we should be pushing the council on.
  • Avoid packaged fruit and veg if you can. Either buy the loose stuff in the supermarket or, even better, check out the market in town. The produce is better quality, cheaper and there’s no plastic to be seen! Just remember to bring your own bag.
  • Don’t use disposable coffee cups. Reusable items such as KeepCups are having a moment – there’s loads of designs, why not invest in one? Of course, don’t forget about the trusty John’s College thermos – eco friendly and a great way to spread college pride wherever you go.
  • Turn off the lights. I’m sure you’ve heard it all before but being deliberately conscious and thoughtful regarding small actions like this is the first step to becoming more environmentally friendly. Think about the tiny changes you can make, if we all did them, they wouldn’t be so tiny.
  • Be selective on how you spend your money. If you have the funds, try and spend on environmentally friendly products and environmentally ethical companies. Consumer demand is, after all, how markets evolve. If we all make it clear what we want and expect, trends such as reusable straws will continue to pop up.
  • Sustainable fashion. Being an eco-warrior doesn’t have to cost the Earth. Whilst there are more expensive options (see Reeya’s article for more info), frequenting charity shops is just as ethical. Not only does it contribute money to charitable causes but giving clothes a second lease of life also helps to reduce the shocking 300,000 tonnes of clothing waste per year in the UK. Plus, it’s fun to rootle around and find a gem!
Photo Credits: @johnsecosoc via Instagram

What Has Eco Soc Achieved So Far?

  • Regular environmentally themed movie nights in college – make sure to like/follow on Facebook and Instagram to keep up to date with events.
  • Last term’s guest speaker from Greenpeace on Plastic in the Oceans. The talk was watched by around 100 people, both in person and online. Keep up to date with Eco Soc’s Facebook page for future interesting and informative guests.
  • Working with Alan to make the grounds more environmentally friendly. He has built us some bird and bat boxes to put into the grounds and there are plans to introduce bee friendly plants.
  • Regular contact with the catering team to maintain the high standards of food waste management.

What’s in Store For The Future?

  • Eco Festival! This promises to be an unmissable summer event. Eco Soc will be joining with the Whole Earth Open Air Festival on Palace Green before continuing the fun at John’s. Prepare for live music, food, speakers and a great time!
  • More guest speakers
  • Eco formal – look out for sign up!
  • More movie nights
  • Gardening in college – Sundays at 11am
  • Summer trip to the Botanical Gardens – a lovely opportunity to picnic with friends and enjoy the environment

I hope this has served as a reminder of all the great work Eco Soc is doing and all the ways we can get involved as a community. All that’s left to say is that caring about our planet is cool and we could still do with talking about it more. There’s nothing wrong with sticking to and expressing your principles, even if that means scolding your friends over a disposable coffee cup!

Be sure to like and follow to keep up with all the ways you can get involved with Eco Soc!

Photo Credits: @johnsecosoc via Instagram

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