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Transition Open Forum November 2015

At the open forum, participants were encouraged to express what did and did not work well when attempting to reduce their waste, energy usage and food associated footprint. As part of the exercise, they were then asked to contribute possible solutions, each being ranked according to their feasibility and impact.

Energy:

When asked about home energy use, most participants felt as though they had a medium amount of control with many falling towards the higher and a few towards the lower end of the spectrum.

Participants feel happy when:

  • Their building is in good condition, for example a working boiler and gas cooking
  • Information and support provided by StandEn home visits

While problems identified include:

  • Building inefficiencies: poor insulation especially in older buildings, some rooms lack lights or radiators, draughty windows, electric cooking
  • Conflicting interests and priorities of house-mates
  • Little to no support from housing managers or land lords
  • And little control or transparency when living in university accommodation, for example having no say in heating timers and little awareness of how much energy is used in the hall and how much that costs

Ideas for improving control of energy usage suggested by participants included:

  • More information being easily available on how to cut down energy use and how to monitor usage
  • Creating social forums where people could ask questions and gain help from other members of the community
  • Having access to clear and up-to-date information on university accommodation energy usage and cost

 

Food:

When participants were asked how easily they can access local food, all fell into a middle range largely depending on the season.

Participants felt local food to be more accessible when:

  • They were able to acquire local food daily either from the vegetable bag scheme or from harvesting produce from the edible campus gardens
  • When they were able to grow food themselves in their gardens or on an allotment
  • Getting food from the local green grocer, Frazers, or the farmers market which happens once a month

Though, participants felt blocked from accessing local foods when:

  • The vegetable bag scheme becomes more limited or stops all together over the summer due to less demand
  • There are limited sources, for example the farmers market is only once a month and very small and the green grocer has a much smaller selection in food choices
  • There is little access to information on where and how to get local food and what produce is in season
  • There is difficulty in getting locally sourced staple foods such as pasta or bread as well as more exotic foods like bananas or kiwi fruits

Ideas for improving access to local foods included:

  • Creating a more extensive and focused publicity campaign
  • Streamlining the vegetable bag scheme such as allowing people to subscribe to receive vegetable bags consistently, for example every week, instead of signing up for each individually
  • More communication and interaction between transition projects and departments
  • Encouraging a less meat-intensive diet, for example through public awareness campaigns, access to clear and correct information, spreading recipes and cooking tips and organizing vegetarian group meals

 

Waste:

When asked how easy they believed it would be for St Andrews to become zero waste, participants gave a full range of responses.

Participants felt the transition is aided by:

  • Having multiple recycling points around town
  • The added fee for using plastic bags provided by grocery stores
  • The StAndRe-use scheme and charity shops to recycle objects

Whereas participant felt the transition would be hindered due to:

  • Many objects not being recyclable such as cling film and the lack of plastics recycling particularly in St Andrews
  • Lack of motivation in the community
  • Some flats failing to provide recycling bins for residents
  • And too much packaging on goods and food

Ideas for further reducing waste included:

  • Education and access to information, particularly in local schools as well as more communication about the importance of recycling
  • Starting a program where individuals could return packaging to supermarkets or stores and lobbying supermarkets and stores to reduce packaging on their products
  • Expand the StAndRe-use scheme to increase non-student community involvement
  • Encouraging food waste to go towards food banks or charities, for example that produced from stores, bakeries or university catered halls of residence
  • Improving recycling facilities and engagement in university accommodation
  • Banning plastic bottles and Styrofoam  in St Andrews
  • Further engaging local businesses in recycling schemes and closed-loop systems