The Last Straw

Posted in Sustainability by Brian Welsh on June 14, 2019

I am always inspired by the young people that I have the privilege of being surrounded by, whether they are inhabitants of our residences or members of our Nido Student team.

Their passion for environmental issues may be far greater than I showed in my younger years, but it is a passion that we definitely share.

A Changing Climate

Human-made climate change is a fact1.

When confronted by a huge problem, there is an understandable urge to bury one’s head in the sand rather than take action, and maybe the greatest danger today is from a lack of action – and that is something that we are working to confront at Nido Student.

 

 

The purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) sector is already playing a role in helping to reduce the overall carbon impact of residential accommodation in our cities.  Generally situated in city centres, most PBSA has little to no car parking as residents are likely to be able to walk or cycle to University.  Modern residences often have BREEAM certification and sustainable transport plans.

I was pleased to be invited to participate in a round-table event attended by energy, sustainability, M&E, IT and sector specialists.  It is evident, from a built-environment perspective, that a lot of positive work is being done.  What is increasingly clear is that remaining gains can come from encouraging residents to be conscious about their behaviour, in particular by managing the use of heating in residences (no different to what you do in your own home).

To reinforce this message in a fun way, and to say thanks for living with us, Nido Student teams handed hoodies out to our students.  After the “Hoodie Handout”, we invited residents to turn off their heating, electrical appliances and lights.  The event was very popular, and the message was important; hopefully we will all be more mindful when turning on our heating in future.

 

  

 

Plastic Pollution

Changing our approach to energy use is not the only thing we can do to help.  In common with most of the UK population, I have something of a Sir David Attenborough addiction, and I feel ashamed whenever I hear about the plastic pollution being introduced into our seas.  I was therefore delighted to read that the Government have confirmed a plan to ban a number of single-use plastic items (including plastic straws, drink stirrers and cotton buds) from next year2.

Whilst not going far enough for some, my view is that this is a good first step to reduce the destruction of our natural environment and I look forward to hearing further initiatives from this and future Governments.

At Nido Student we are doing our bit to reduce single-use plastic waste.  We know that the biggest impact we can have long-term is to create virtuous circles, encouraging our residents and team members to be diligent today and into the future.

To that end, over the course of 2018/19, we have held a number of litter picks around our residences, and we have distributed approximately 8,000 recyclable and multi-use items, including coffee cups, water bottles, bags for life and metal straws to our students (“the last straw” indeed!).

Not only can these in theory prevent 600,0003 individual single-use plastic items from entering our environment, but in encouraging our residents to reduce their reliance on single-use plastics in future, hopefully we can build up the numbers in time to make a material difference (pun intended) in our world.

 

Brian Welsh

CEO, Nido Student


Sources:

1 https://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/climate-change/

2 https://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/plastic-straws-drink-stirrers-and-cotton-buds-to-be-banned-from-next-year-a4148116.html

3 Calculation based on: items distributed x usage ration (50%) x 2 uses per week x 18 months of life