Green and Blue Space – Green shoots, or premature harvest?

Image courtesy of Stirling Student’s Union.

The Green and Blue Space were recently recognized at the NUS 2015 awards in three separate categories, Green Impact Gold, Environmental Innovation Award, and Green Impact Union of the Year – the latter two being for Small Commercial.

If you haven’t seen the Green and Blue Space, its nestled in the atrium across from the Deli – where the Travel Agent used to be, if you’ve been on campus that long! It is a new project, occupying a space that was gifted to the initiative by the University.

The project offers a range of services from running a food co-operative, sourcing fresh organic foodstuffs cooperative members, and students that want to purchase the items. They also take donations of unwanted items from pots and pans to ponchos and parasols; all of which are free for other students to obtain, free of charge, if they have need of them. A small reading corner, and a craft station are also amongst the services on offer. Finally, as befitting a project that is environmentally focussed, a recycling service is provided for those items that you want to recycle, but just aren’t sure where to do so.

Stepping outside the confines of the premises, the project has aided in the reduction of around 600kg of carbon emissions over two months through their food waste scheme. This scheme was present in two halls, pulling in 990kg of food waste. To add to that, the donation station has taken – since it was started in December 2012 – around 15 tonnes of domestic products. Additionally, any non-perishable food that is donated to the space is either given to students, or local food banks.

The space goes beyond being an environmental project. Seventy-Six students volunteer with the project, covering a variety of roles. The space then providing a social, communal, role in the student community – not just a recycling and co-operative food shop function. This really is a service that provides for the students that volunteer, are members of the co-operative, and any other person on campus – staff or student – that wants to make use of their facilities.

Alasdair Ibbotson, student trustee and volunteer at the Green and Blue Space, had this to say about the project:
“”I’m really proud to be involved in the great work the Green & Blue Space does and it’s really rewarding too. The fantastic impact it makes on University life together with the opportunities for friendship and personal development are one of the best bits of the University.”

Lauren Marriott, our Vice-President Communities, also reflected on the successes enjoyed by the project and the place that it holds in the student body:
“I am so proud of the achievements the union has made with regards to environmental and ethical initiatives. It’s fantastic to have these recognised on a national level. The work the union does around environmental sustainability is beneficial not only to the 76 volunteers that give their time, but also the wider university community and Stirling community itself. Given the categories of the awards we won, it is clear that we are a leading organisation in running student led environmental projects. This is a legacy we must ensure continues.”

A legacy that should continue. That is the aim of all successful projects, to ensure that they can continue to deliver their services that have already been recognized as having a positive impact in their targeted areas, whilst developing new, innovative services and initiatives to take the enterprise to new heights.

As you may be aware, the atrium is currently undergoing a redevelopment phase. Plans are in the early stage. With the space that the project enjoys currently gifted on the provision that terms may change, it is a reasonable question to ask if this redevelopment would trigger such a change in terms. We reached out to Karen Plouviez, Director of Estates and Campus Services, who sits on the design board and enquired as to the future of the Green and Blue Space in the light of the redesign.

Ms Plouviez was kind enough to reply with the following statement:

“The success of the Students’ Union in the NUS Green Impact Awards is excellent news and to be welcomed as part of the University’s overall demonstration of its commitment to sustainability.

“The University has supported a number of the Union’s sustainability activities, including providing a temporary home for the Green and Blue Space when a retail unit in the atrium became vacant.

“The project to transform the atrium into a vibrant and student-centred space is at an early stage of design, and no final decisions have yet been made about what activities and services will be located in the new space. Students’ Union representatives are directly involved in the development of the project.

“The need to find an appropriate space to allow the Green and Blue Space activity to continue is part of the overall considerations.”

So, what now for the Green and Blue Space? Seeds that have been carefully sown over the past few years, and lovingly nurtured have started to germinate, the first delicate shoots sprouting. Shall these shoots be allowed to develop, grow into the full bodied organisms they are meant to be, or will we see their untimely, and unfortunate demise. Time, as it always does, will tell.

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