Beans growing in a garden

Sustainability Pledge

Our university is committed to sustainability, which is a high priority. The Faculty of Science and Technology has its own Sustainability Advisory Committee, and each department in FST has its own Sustainability Group.

As part of its work, the Sustainability Group of the Department of Mathematics & Statistics has produced a "Sustainability Pledge", that is, a list of some suggested steps towards a sustainable future that each member of the department can make. Everyone is encouraged to sign up to the pledge and truly commit to its principles: every little drop counts!

This pledge is meant to be a short list of actions which may lead to small behavioural changes. It is phrased in such a way as to allow for flexibility in its interpretation. If you expand each pledge, you can read some testimonials of what that pledge means to some of those already committed to a sustainable living.

Accordion

  • 1. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: these key principles apply to everything, every day in the life of everyone.

    Nadia: I've been taking monthly readings of my energy consumption since January 2009, and so I've been my own "smart-meter". This led me to change my daily routine, and my gas consumption dropped from 7717kWh in 2010 to 4756kWh in 2020, for instance.

    I have solar panels on my house, compost bins in my garden to make my own home compost, and I collect rainwater which I use for all my gardening. I repurposed some old windows into a cold frame which does wonders on my allotment.

    Ben: Paper, paper, paper. Studying a Maths degree, you are likely to use a lot of paper. I have a pile in my room of paper that has at least one side free, which I reuse often more than once for working through the coursework questions. Although it sounds small, I have saved hundreds of sheets going to waste.

    Isabel: Cristal jars are usually used to store pretty much anything food-related, from pickles to jams. Buy once they are empty; they can still serve as a container after the food has been consumed! You can use them to grow seeds, like avocado, to store pens or crushed eggshells you can reuse as a plant fertilizer.

    Did you know you can eat cauliflower leaves and broccoli stems? If you peel them, they can be used the same way you would use the florets. To eat the leaves, just sauté them and use like spinach.

  • 2. Manage your energy consumption efficiently: electricity, gas, water, food, etc.

    Azizan: In my observation (and from my personal experience), when people play music when they have a shower, it took them at least 15minutes. I read an article that the recommended time for a shower is around 6-8minutes. As of now, I am currently trying to shorten my shower to reach the recommended time to conserve water.

    Nadia: I always use the washing machine when it’s full, I use the rainwater collected in the waterbutts for the garden and washing the car.

    Isabel: To cut down in food waste, I try to always make a shopping list, to avoid buying products I surely will not use. I also opt for buying seasonal produce, as it usually has a smaller carbon footprint due to transportation costs and tends to be cheaper!

  • 3. Cycle, walk, car share, or use public transport instead of driving your car, as much as possible. Take the train instead of the plane when feasible!

    Nadia: I have commuted by bike to uni since 2003 - 3 years in the 4x4-terrifying Athens, Georgia, USA, where everybody has a car, and then 2 years in the lorry-crowded Aberdeen. In Lancaster, I’ve taken my bike everywhere from 2008 until I moved to the countryside in 2019, too far away from campus to commute by bike, given my ageing body.

  • 4. Avoid single use plastic, plastic bottles whenever possible.

    Nadia: The only plastic bottles which I use are milk bottles, which I always flatten when I put in the recycling box.

    Azizan: Whenever I go out, I always bring a reusable bag/tote bag in case I happen to buy something to avoid using plastic to carry them (and to not pay for it!).

    Spencer: Since the use of plastic bags have permeated into people life, we can not totally give up using them sometimes, especially plastic trash bags in the kitchen. My family and I only buy and use fully degradable plastic bags when we needed, which can be degraded in 3-4 months, though they are much more expensive than normal plastic bags for now.

  • 5. Encourage wildlife at home, school and work.

    Nadia: I keep bees, I make sure that my bird feeders are topped up during winter (they are my favourite Christmas decoration!), and I always leave some wild patch somewhere on my allotment and in my garden. In 2019, I created a pond in my front garden, and now I have fun to watch wildlife enjoying my works!

    Isabel: Lancaster is great for foraging! (Always be mindful and do your research when taking from the wild) The University has thyme growing in many public spaces, as well as dandelion! You can make syrup out of the flowers, eat the flowers or make tea out of the roots. It would surprise you just how many weeds are edible.

    David: Where I live at the moment, we regularly maintain the hedgerow, to keep it dense and provide some good hiding places for birds and small mammals. We’ve just put up some birdhouses and we keep the bird feeders well stocked. And the pond is kept fenced off to make things a little safer for the frogs- this seems to deter the cats a little!

  • 6. Reduce your carbon footprint.

    Nadia: I've kept my allotment since 2012, and since 2015 I am a Seed Guardian of the Heritage Seed Library, contributing to the preservation of some of our heritage varieties of vegetables. I also take care of my health: that is my utmost capital!

    Isabel: Growing up in the countryside in Spain, keeping a garden and foraging was very accessible, we kept fruit trees and common vegetables to use in cooking. Although as a student in Lancaster I can’t do that anymore, I keep herbs such as basil I incorporate in cooking. Other herbs such as cilantro are harder to maintain, so if I buy some, once it is starting to go bad, I dry it to use later.

    Buy Wonky vegetables! Less visually appealing or vegetables would normally go to waste in supermarkets, but this is just an aesthetic difference, they taste the same and are usually cheaper!

  • 7. Do not use chemicals that harm the environment.

    Nadia: I am a committed member of Garden Organic, and don’t even use any form of slug pellets since 2019. I don't want any chemical to end up in the environment or harming my bees!

  • 8. Don't litter!

    Nadia: As a kid, we learned this rule at school (in Switzerland): every day, classes took turns in cleaning up the courtyard at the end of a break. That's the sort of lessons that one never forgets!

    Azizan: I have seen some people carrying a trash bag while they went for a jog/hiking to collect rubbish along their path. I learned recently this is what we call ‘plogging’ - jogging/hiking combined with picking up litters. While keeping their body in fit, they are also helping to clean the nature!

  • 9. Take care of your health: sustainability is also "human sustainability", including yourself (body & mind).

    Nadia: I am someone who needs to spend time outdoors during daylight. So, I walk every day around my lovely village. I also use gardening and beekeeping as a way to get away from the daily stress. Taking up new challenges, especially if they involve Nature in some way, is a good way to keep body and mind healthy – at least for me!

    Azizan: Nowadays, due to the current restrictions of the lockdown, to entertain myself I go for a walk around the woodland trails on campus, and sometimes around town exploring the nature part. Nothing beats a free, enjoyable nature-oxygen-releasing walk to relieve stress while keeping my body away from the sedentary lifestyle.

  • 10. Be money wise.

    Nadia: Sustainability is also financial sustainability. So, I plan my budget; I only buy what I need, and I regularly use comparison websites to switch services when a deal comes to an end.

    Isabel: Recently, I have started buying more plant-based protein, as I have found that animal protein can be very expensive, as well as come in a lot of plastic packaging. Many times, you can find dry beans in bags that are easily reusable or recyclable. The quantity might seem small at first, but once soaked and cooked they become way bigger.

    (They also feature in many traditional Spanish dishes, so for me that’s always a plus!)

Contact

If you would like to get involved with the Maths & Stats Sustainability Group, please contact us.

Nadia Mazza

Professor Nadia Mazza SFHEA

Professor in Pure Mathematics

Algebra and Geometry, FST Sustainability Advisory Committee

B41, B - Floor, Fylde College