The theme for this year’s Earth Day is climate action and we believe that small changes can provide the most meaningful impact. This Earth Day, we are encouraging students and staff to make three pledges, across three days, on Do Nation. Do Nation is an online platform that encourages us to form healthy, sustainable pledges. With over 60 Do Actions, ranging from taking shorter showers to reading more, there is something for everyone. To get started, sign up and head over to the Do Chester leaderboard to find your department or faculty. From there you can browse Do Actions, find out more information about them and make a pledge. Follow Green Chester on social media pages, as from Wednesday, April 22 to Friday, April 24, we’ll be sharing video guides of how to navigate to Do Nation website. We’ll also be sharing ideas on pledges you can make and will be hearing from a number of students about the Do Actions they pledged to take part in.
By Debbie Chong, MA Education in Society student and Green Chester volunteer
This year’s theme for #LiveLent campaign by the Church of England explored the need for humans to care for the earth more and taking that forward, I think it is a good idea to apply what I have learnt and to care more for the environment. With the lockdown happening now, it is encouraging to hear how nature is gradually returning to its beautiful form and animals visiting empty towns and that is quite something to me. When we stop, we can use this time to think about nature, how much are we impacting the environment and how we should learn to appreciate it more.
There should be a changing of the mindset – ‘It’s just a small thing, why do I have to care so much?’ Imagine a hundred, or a thousand people saying the same thing and how much that could impact or change people’s habits.
I had done pretty well at reducing waste before doing my Do Nation pledge and to me it is more of like a tracker on how I can do it better, being more conscious of my actions and mini impacts on the planet and to see people share their experiences on doing their pledge, which I find very interesting and encouraging. Also, with recycling initiatives so strong in the UK compared to my country of Malaysia, I am anticipating how I could spread recycling awareness when I get home as well.
That aside, here is one of the pledges that I did:
Lights turn off initiative
Reducing lights being switched on even within the household: switching off lights when out of the kitchen or toilet (think I personally should work on encouraging housemates to do the same). The rule of thumb for myself is ‘Don’t waste that energy if nobody is going to be in the room’. It has become a habit and I am still doing it now while at home. Also, I used to switch off lights in empty rooms on Campus before the lockdown started. Though sometimes automatic lights are useful, I feel if people could make the habit of switching off lights immediately, we could save so much more.
Also adding to that, I actually joined Earth Hour on March 31 so that’s a plus for my lights off initiative!
Moving on to summer I hope to appreciate daylight more and make use of it!
Doing a pledge makes me realise how much I am consuming and thinking about the waste I can reduce. Changing to local organic produce has been one of my goals, not just to support the local community but to reduce the amount of items being imported. It costs slightly more compared to supermarket produce, but I guess it’s paying for people’s hard work as well. Other than that, I have started collecting and reusing waste: plastic containers, citrus fruit peels, seeds…
With that in place, here are the three pledges that I wish to continue:
Continue to watch, listen and learn:
I need to find the time to discover more about Earth Day. Plan: I discovered the National Trust podcast and would love to learn about walking on National Trust’s places virtually, since it is not possible to currently go.
Pledge: To do three talks every week!
Ever since the lockdown, a lot of things have been on screens for me and I usually end up charging my phone once a day, have the computer switched on all day and sometimes overnight if I forget… so that would be something to think of!
With food being scarcer and local vegetable boxes being stretched out because of the lockdown, I think it is a good idea for me to start this initiative as well. Besides watching the plant grow, I develop knowledge of planning, planting and growing my own produce. My family at home are doing this initiative as well. Although this would be a bit hard for me because I’m living in a student accommodation with limited resources, but with the university garden allotment being empty (and needs a bit of help maintaining maybe) I’ll try and grow some crops and hopefully be able to yield something at the end of summer term!
Pledge to do: a mixture of fruit, vegetables and herbs, in the University allotment.
I will update my pledge on my Twitter account @DebbiecyChong, if you would like to follow on my updates.
I’d like to offer encouragement to others who are at home or are staying in halls: first think about what is manageable, then plan to make a pledge – if you happen to be in a society, for the University, or even for yourself! A little goes a long way 😉