Cutting the Carbon: The University of York’s One Planet Week

Katie Nash

In the midst of our current climate crisis, we all need to consider lifestyle changes that could help our planet. For students in particular, it can be difficult to know what we can do to make a difference, especially on a low budget. To help educate people about climate change and the importance of caring for our planet, the University of York, for its fourth consecutive year, has launched One Planet Week. 

The project took place from 10th-16th of February, and is designed to emphasise the importance of behaving in a sustainable manner. This year’s theme is Zero Carbon, with the university focusing on limiting CO2 emissions by considering resource consumption, sustainable transport and the energy efficiency of buildings. Past themes have included Sustainable Materials (2019) and Zero Waste (2018) as a focus for the project.

The university website defines the objective of the scheme as: “…to provide a platform from which to promote awareness, share knowledge and celebrate sustainable actions to staff, students and the wider community.” Indeed, the notion of “celebrating” sustainable actions is something we should all be taking in our stride during our current climate crisis. 

Activities included an ethical fair, with stalls promoting local sustainable initiatives such as Yorcafe which is based in Tang Hall. Their “junk food project” aims to reduce food waste by collecting unwanted food from supermarkets and turning it into meals and snacks which can be purchased on a pay-as-you-feel basis. This is an excellent initiative for both the environmentally-conscious and those looking for a low budget meal!

Other activities include collaborative tree planting with members of the local community such as schoolchildren and a combination of open lectures which were accessible to the public as well as students.  In addition, there were college based events such as an upcycling event and a Friday ‘food fest’ to promote the use of low carbon food. 

One Planet Week Intern, and third-year Human Geography and Environment student, Sophie Gavriel said: “One Planet Week is an exceptional opportunity to unite students and staff across disciplines and departments, as well as the wider community. The week allows people to bring together knowledge and raise awareness for one of the most current, topical issues.”

As an English and Related Literature student, one aspect that seems to be neglected on our course is exploring environmental issues. Whilst environmentally-conscious weeks such as this are excellent ways to get students from all disciplines involved in climate-related issues, I would arguably question whether our curriculum should include more texts which focus on environmental issues in order to combat climate change. 

To find out more about One Planet Week, visit the University of York’s Sustainability page.

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