Wolfson goes green(er) in 2020

With a good shot at a Gold Award, a new Green Society, and plenty of sustainability initiatives, this may be Wolfson's greenest year ever.

Launch of Green Society

The College has put sustainability firmly on the agenda this year with a host of new initiatives. Here are just a few of them:

The Green Society

WCSA Green Officer Charlie Barty-King galvanised the Wolfson community into collective action by starting the first ever Wolfson Green Society. After a successful launch event on 6 February 2020, the Society has already launched and completed a number of projects with many more underway. These include ways to save energy, manage emissions, reduce waste, increase recycling, and embed sustainable practices into all ares of College. A series of Green Talks will start in Easter Term 2020, beginning with The melting Arctic and its global impact on 22 April by Wolfson alumna and former EU Ambassador at Large to the Arctic, Marie Anne Coninsx.

PhD student Charlie Barty-King heads up a meeting of The Green Society .

Sustainability Committee

The Carbon Reduction Committee meeting of 16 July 2019 actioned Dr Stephen Hoath as Chair and Professor John French as a Committee member to write to Council on utilities consumption trends and annual GHG emissions as a matter of urgency. With a need for action against climate change, and to widen our brief to encompass sustainability and green impact issues, we also suggested the change of name from 'Carbon Reduction' to 'Sustainability' Committee. In September 2019 Council agreed with this change and other suggestions including additional WCSA and staff members for the new Committee. Sustainability as an imperative for Wolfson College was also taken up by the Council.

Green Week

The Green Society ran a full schedule of events during Green Week 3-9 February.

Plants were sold from the Club room on Monday, an organic wine tasting was held in Fuchs House on Wednesday, Thursday saw a Green Movie Night, Saturday was for litter picking and the week concluded with a wardrobe swap on Sunday.

Green Formal Hall on Tuesday featured local fare including Ely leek and potato soup, chalk stream trout, Suffolk foraged herbs, carrots and parsnips, east Anglian kale and Lincolnshire cauliflower. All beverages served were organic. Delicious!

plant sale
Benji and Scott choose some greenery for their rooms.

The Student Garden

Started in 2019 with help from Senior Gardener Oscar Holgate, the student garden has produced bounty practically year-round, from spring peas to summer aubergines to winter kale. With a donated greenhouse, tools purchased at a car boot sale and some handy carpentry from Chris Clarke, the garden is off to a good start again this year. Students meet regularly on Sunday morning to plan, hoe, harvest and drink tea.

Harvesting in the student garden
Benji and Ali harvesting in the student garden.

More food options

Head Chef Sam Frost and his team have introduced a raft of new vegetarian and vegan options into the daily menus at College. Among the more intriguing new plant-based items are:

  • Breadfruit (the fruit of a tropical tree with a fibrous texture)
  • Nutritional yeast flakes (a condimentto sprinkle on soups, stews, casseroles, salads and pasta)
  • Oat milk and rice milk
  • Vegan cheese
  • Chick pea water (used to stiffen meringue)
  • Vegan cooking chocolate
  • Egg substitutes

Outside the kitchen, Food Services Manager Charles Correa has been replacing plastic and disposable paper cups around College, and encouraging reusable options.

The Green Impact Awards

Wolfson was awarded 'Gold' in the University-wide Green Impact Awards in 2017 and 2018, but we failed to enter in 2019. But now, with a revitalised Green Impact Committee chaired by Emeritus Fellow Dr Stephen Hoath, we are on track to regain our Gold status.

The Green Impact Awards cover everything from setting the temperature of fridges to cutting trees when it is least likely to affect nesting birds, and the closing date to enter is 24 April 2020.