This June we were reminded of how our colleagues at the Dunn School fight to make our institute more sustainable – with many rewards to testify for their efforts!
The 10th of June marked the beginning of The Great Big Green Week – the UK’s biggest celebration of community action to tackle climate change. In Oxfordshire, a consortium of environmental organisations and the County Council arranged a range of events across the area, and our own departmental Green Group coordinated the celebrations at the Dunn School.
The Dunn School’s “Green Festival” officially kicked off on the 12th of June, with the workshop staff raising the Green Group Flag, and it continued throughout the week with a wealth of activities across the department. Highlights included a refill station stocked with essential household items, reducing the need for single-use packaging. Other activities included a plant and seed swap to encourage biodiversity, a bake and cook sale featuring locally sourced cakes, and a clothes swap encouraging the Dunn School members to embrace reuse and recycling practices. An innovative addition to the week’s programme was a repair café, organised by Share Oxford in collaboration with our Green Group. This initiative provided an opportunity for attendees to repair a wide range of items, including bikes, clothes, and household items. A knife sharpening service was also on hand to promote the longevity of utensils. Complementing these events, the Graduate Student Association (GSA) organised an Autoclave Box Counting Challenge across all Dunn School labs, encouraging the reduction of biohazard waste.
Laboratory suppliers Mettler Toledo, Appleton Woods, Thermo Fisher, Starlab, and Merck generously supported the event. B&Q also contributed to the event by donating plants for the plant and seed swap. Additionally, proceeds from the event were donated to One Tree Planted, a non-profit organisation that pledges to plant a tree for every dollar donated, thereby increasing the environmental impact of the festival.
The Green Group’s Chair, Saroj Saurya said: “The Dunn School’s Green Festival aimed to raise awareness about climate change and waste reduction while actively engaging the Dunn School community in eco-friendly activities.” We did not have to wait long for the Green Group efforts to be rewarded!
June also saw the University of Oxford’s Vice-Chancellor’s Environmental Sustainability Awards Ceremony, which aims to recognise the groups and individuals who make a positive impact within their community. This year was the eighth edition of the event, and marked some big achievements for our colleagues at the Dunn School. Firstly, all departmental labs that applied for The Laboratory Efficiency Assessment Framework (LEAF) accreditation were awarded a LEAF certification. This initiative encourages more efficient and sustainable practices in the lab and it is incredibly rewarding to see that so many groups in the Dunn School are serious about addressing these issues. The LEAF awards further feed into the bigger Green Impact programme, which operates across UK universities. The Dunn School’s initiatives were rewarded with a Gold Green Impact award – the highest level of distinction – for our continuous efforts to make our department greener and more sustainable. Last but not least, Saroj herself received a personal award for her leadership.
Even at departmental level, the green accomplishments of our colleagues are being constantly recognised, with the Washing Up and Store services recently receiving a special prize from the Green Group and our Head of Department, for their incredible work in incorporating sustainable practices into our scientific activities. Environmental sustainability is an exceptionally meaningful issue, and we are proud of ourselves for continuing to make a positive impact. That being said – there is always more to do!
Written by Aashna Saini (Raff lab) and Aleksandra Pluta (Murphy lab) @aj_pluta