Last week a newly established sustainability society – RenewCastle – hosted Go Green Week on campus – a nation-wide annual celebration of sustainable development, meant to raise awareness of and facilitate debate on a variety of global environmental issues. The campaign became inaugural for RenewCaste, giving rise to their ambitious plans.
The week featured a series of daytime and evening events, aiming to carefully consider a particular problem and its impact on global ecology - be it food waste, meat and dairy consumption, global warming and climate change, transport use or clothing production - as well as to prompt its possible solution within the course of discussion.
According to Rob Noyes, one of the organizers of Go Green Week, the response RenewCastle got in the tent during the week was quite broad and diverse, with this visualised campus presence provoking thoughtful conversations in both positive and negative manners.
He said: “I’m really amazed by the amount of students’ support we have got, and I hope to stay surprised in the future as well”, he said.
The week promoted a wider collaboration within a number of societies and sustainability projects around the campus, marked by RenewCastle joining their efforts with A Second Life project.
Rob added: “If we can create a society which is an umbrella for all these great initiatives around the idea of sustainability on campus, and provide a platform for them to ‘get with’ people (rather than ‘get to’ people) – then that is the progress on our protest, that’s for the creation of a sustainable change that we need,” Rob said.
The first evening session of the week on Monday, advertised as “The ‘Bring A Sceptic’ Film Showing”, was headlined by ‘Cowspiracy’ documentary screening, exploring the impact of animal agriculture on the environment, and draw an audience of over thirty people.
“The highlight of the day for me was the fact that one guy, called Simon, who was a meat eater, felt confident and comfortable enough to stand up and talk about it in that setting, and there was absolutely no awkwardness around this situation, which on a personal level made me feel like we were going in the right direction”, Rob told The Courier. “At the end of the day, there is no helpful purpose in becoming eco-chamber, and rather than telling people all those ‘do good’ narratives, we want to help them to take ownership of these ideas, resulting in conscious decisions,” he added.
The second event of the Go Green Week on Tuesday was focused on the environmental movement.
Jess Poyner, member of the BAME Network, conducted talk on the issues of representation around the environmental movement.
“The people most effected by climate change are women of colour and indigenous women in non-western countries, and the fact that the Paris’ COP 21 talks undermine indigenous land rights goes some way to showing how this imbalance of power negatively effects climate change action, so I’m really glad the BAME Network got the chance to participate in Newcastle University’s Green Week and discuss the ways in which racism and neocolonialism leaks into the movement”, Jess said in her talk.
Wednesday afternoon was dedicated to upcycling workshop, carried out by Cheryl Lumley from All Round Creative Junkie.
The upcycling materials were used to decorate photo frames, ceiling lamps and other things.
Amy, the main inspiration behind the project, believes that upcycling methods can be applied in many different areas of life.
She said: “There are loads of ideas out there, with some being very simple; it is also helpful to both people and the environment, as we not only reduce the waste, but at the same time reduce the stress within us during the upcycling process, so anyone, young or old, should consider upcycling.”
‘The Green Man Festival’, which took place in the Venue on Thursday evening, presented an assemblage of stalls from all Go Green Week’s displays, accompanied by a spoken word poetry show, acoustic sessions, fashion displays, food from the Magic Hat Café and drinks on behalf of Stu Brew. The Venue also showcased the artwork of Fine Art students and musical installations.“I guess what we’re trying to do here is to make out of all these sustainable expositions “normality” rather than something exotic and one-off”, said Callum, another member of the organizing team. “The acoustic sessions performed by fellow students, the good food, friendly company and the atmosphere itself were somewhat a therapeutic experience, and, in my mind, the event was a huge success!” Saffron Mee, an attendee, said. “It was extremely refreshing to see so many people volunteer for, and turn up to an event promoting waste prevention, natural eating and community projects - it’s literally ‘renewed’ my faith in the student community as raising awareness of the bigger environmental issues - bravo, RenewCastle!”
The week culminated in a Tynemouth Beach clean-up, followed by ‘Heads in the Sand’ display for climate action to oppose government cuts on solar subsidies by 64%, and ‘Show the Love’ for the planet photo opportunity.
According to Rob, the preparation of the events week took about a month’s time, with an initial number of those involved raising from 7 organizers to around volunteers. “To be stewards of a more sustainable future, we need to engage everybody”, he said. “Surely, these lifestyle choices that we support are not easy to comprehend entirely, and there are signs that there are aspects within the movement that have some kind of stigma attached to them. Our society is here to strike new conversations and facilitating the debate, which at times gets shut down from both sides”, Rob said.