A journey through UWE's Big Green Week

Issue date: 27 October 2015

UWE Big Green Week is the University's annual festival of eco ideas, events and smart living. It is a great opportunity to meet others, learn something new, get inspired and have fun.

In this special Bristol European Green Capital year, final year journalism student Liam Lawrence is among the students and staff at UWE Bristol signed up to the Green Capital: Student Capital scheme to become Green Capital Change Makers. Change Makers qualify for the award by completing as little as seven hours of volunteering activity with a sustainability focus – environmental, social, economic or cultural. Whilst making an important difference to the city, it's also a great addition to the CV.

In his role as UWE Student Capital Press Officer for the project, Liam shares his experience of UWE's Big Green Week:

This year is very special: Bristol is European Green Capital and we are asking you to support the city's 'Do15' to make a better Bristol (and UWE!) by making a change in how you do things. Follow the action on Twitter.

Saturday October 17 brought to a close UWE's Big Green Week 2015, a collection of events, workshops, and talks aimed at bringing all the goodness of the Green Capital to students' doorsteps and encouraging them to get engaged with sustainability. I spent the week getting involved to find out what it was all about.

Monday kicked off with the Small Green Fair up at Frenchay with vegan food stalls, volunteering opportunities, and an introduction to the 'Say no to plastic' campaign – which aims to reduce the amount of plastic we consume, be that through water bottles or synthetic fibres. This was followed by the WHOLE EARTH? Exhibition launch event, a collection of photos by leading environmental photographer Mark Edwards who was responsible for the incredibly popular photographic exhibition Hard Rain Project. It launched simultaneously at universities across the UK, Scandinavia, and Australia, and aims to connect students to the issues depicted, encourages them to think of the future of our world, and asks the crucial question, “How can we live better with less?”

Tuesday followed on from Monday's fair with a farmers' market dedicated to local produce, local craftspeople showcasing their wares, and local street food stalls. Best part of it all? Everything was local! The issue of sustainability sometimes gets overlooked in our own cities and we forget about all the amazing produce and crafts being cultivated all around us. The market was a great way to cement this point in people's minds. From there I went on to meet UWE's resident bee-keeper, Jeff Davey, for a Bee Walk and Talk. The issue of bee population decline due to human activity is currently largely overlooked in the mainstream media, despite the best efforts of experts and advocacy groups to emphasise the importance to our ecosystem of protecting and maintaining a healthy bee population. Listening to Jeff talk about the history, techniques of care, and the different types of bees' roles was fascinating.

Wednesday brought Darren Hall, who ran for the Green Party for Bristol West in the last general election, and fresh from the Green Party Conference, to Frenchay for a talk titled: 'What future for Green politics in the UK?' This was an insightful discussion of popular attitudes towards green issues in society today.

Thursday's attractions were focused at Bower Ashton campus, with cake stalls, further volunteering opportunities, and other events encouraging people to get involved. The Vegetarian Society and The Green Team also hosted an evening at The Phoenix Café with food and a showing of the film 'Cowspiracy': an engaging look into the devastating impact of large-scale commercial animal agriculture on the environment. A must-watch for carnivores, veg-heads or anyone who has taken a moment to ponder this enormous and secretive industry.

My Big Green Week culminated on the Community Farm near Chew Magna for an action day involving hoeing, planting, and everything in between. Places like this thrive on days like these. It means there are extra hands for jobs and extra publicity. In my case I was half-farmhand, half-journalist. I snapped away - taking candid shots and unashamedly posed ones – and spoke to the students who sacrificed a Saturday to do some good. I gained a better insight into this little community. Anyone interested in doing a bit of dirty but honest work, check them out - you may even get fed!

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