Library Green Group

by Tom Mountford


“Say hello to your local eco-warriors!”

As I’m sure you’re all aware, environmental issues are very much a pressing matter in the world at the moment and (as any institution should) Sussex is pushing for better practices from its staff and students to help reduce its green footprint. With that in mind the Library Green Group has been formed to us here at the library do our bit.

While we’re obviously not going to make the library into a completely non-waste, ecological paradise the group has come together to put in small changes here and there that we can all do to try and limit the impact we have on our immediate and wider surroundings. A lot of the points that I’ll move on to you may have already thought of, some maybe you already do (great!) but we’re here to try and promote these practices into the wider consciousness of our colleagues and users. In this post I’ll offer some information on how you can help personally and some of the way we as a group aim to do the same. They’re dead easy and will make a difference!

Before we start I just want to make a quick note that in my building’s work I am obviously acutely aware of where the building falls down on some of these issues (namely heating and lighting). Myself and my managers will continue to try and make improvements alongside the University and SEF where we can but this is long, complex work that doesn’t change overnight. This group is separate to that work so that we can at least control some aspects of improvement.

Now, with no further ado…

Part 1. How can you help?

So to start with here are some suggestions (not orders!) on small ways we can all help in our day-to-day work:

Reduce Paper Use

  • When you’re running a meeting try not to print an agenda or notes for every attendee. Why not save paper by simply running the agenda electronically on the big screens provided in all of our meeting rooms and taking notes on a tablet or mobile device.
  • Do you have processes that use a lot of needless paper? For instance in the Library Support department we are currently working with Systems to create programmes to record our patrol and headcount stats, bypassing an existing system where notes would be recorded on paper and later transferred to a spreadsheet. This obviously also saves time and makes the whole process more efficient. Win win!
  • Make your own notebooks from scrap paper. If (like me) you often find half-used notebooks when cleaning out your desk, why not make your own at the start of the week from a few pieces of scrap paper stapled together. It’s not as glamourous but it saves sheets and sheets of wasted paper sitting in a drawer and not being used (it’s also very satisfying to throw away a completed to-do list at the end of the week!)

Reduce Plastic Use

  • The main one here is probably the amount of plastic water cups we use. If you can provide your own reusable water bottle that is the perfect solution.

Reduce Electricity Use

  • Even if you don’t fully shutdown your computer every night we can all remember to turn your monitor off. With around 100 staff PC’s in the building this does make a difference! And then at the end of the working week do a full shutdown of your PC and monitor so they’re not humming away over the weekend.
  • We all know the issues with heating in this building and we fully respect the right for you all to be comfortable as you work but before you switch on an electric heater have a quick think if it really is necessary or if putting on that extra woolly jumper or a quick walk around will do the trick
  • Turn off your office lights if you know you’ll be out for a while (obviously a tip only for those in single offices!)

Part 2. What we hope to implement as a group

Stationary Recycling

  • With over a 100 members of staff you can imagine the amount of stationary that we go through every year. With that in mind we will be putting together a collection point in each office area for people to put their spent stationary. Once or twice a year we will then run them all down to a drop-off point in Brighton where the everything will then get recycled. The facility that we’re using accepts any type of pen, felt tip, highlighter, marker, correction fluid pot, correction tape, mechanical pencil and eraser pen regardless of their composition. Your department’s member of the team will let you know where to find them.

Battery Recycling

  • This is something that we’ve done for a while (if you don’t know, the collection point is in the basement by the LSA’s workroom) but we are going to be expanding it into the public area so that it gives our users an easy location to drop in their used batteries. Thanks to Adam H for the suggestion on this one!

Waste Paper Collection Point

  • Instead of automatically putting misprints, old signage etc straight into the recycling bin we’d like to put an collection point for each office so that people can reuse that paper for note making. This should reduce the amount of fresh paper that we go through. Obviously make sure there’s nothing confidential on their first!

Food Waste Recycling

  • We will be supplying the staffroom with a bin exclusively for food waste which will then be used to feed…

The Library Allotment Patch!

  • After a bit of back and forth staff at Essex House have very kindly given us permission to use one of their large planters in their allotment. This is a really nice excuse to get out of the building, explore a bit of campus and meet other staff and of course grow some lovely, organic fruit and veg. This will be open to all staff although bear in mind that we have limited space at the moment (should this be a success I will be actively trying to seek us out a larger patch for next year). I’ll put out an email about this in a bit more detail very soon.

Lunchtime Talks

  • We are planning on inviting some environmentally conscious speakers to run a small programme of lunchtime talks over the coming months to help educate us on various issues and show us ways that we can help, not just at work but also within our personal communities and home lives.

That’s where we are currently but we aim to keep moving forward with this and keep staff and users engaged in this important subject. We will also be working with a member of the Students Union going forward which is great as our students vastly outnumber the staff and will be key in the overall success of this across campus. If anyone’s ever got any suggestions that they would like fed into the group just send me an email and I’ll raise it when we all next meet.

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