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My sustainable choice: Andy Harmer, Environmental Operative

Date 17.11.2021

The eyes of the world have been on the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), held in Glasgow. Here on campus, our COP 26 week of action was jam-packed full of events, guest speakers, workshops, and local sustainable business demonstrated the sheer scale of ways business, research, and individuals are working to make changes to tackle the Climate Crisis.

Andy Harmer, Environmental Operative, took time out of his busy schedule to explain the small change he has made as part of his role here at the University, which is set to make a big impact.

Andy said: “I joined the University in May 2021, after completing my Adventure and Environmental Studies degree at the University of Cumbria, in the heart of the lake district. I’ve got a real passion for the natural world, I enjoy open water swimming, hiking, kayaking, and other outdoor sports, but I was concerned about the damage being done to such a beautiful area, particularly the levels of litter left by people.

“One element of my role here at the University is litter picking, I also do this in my spare time around Northampton, and wherever I travel. Quite soon into my role, found that I was using anywhere up to 35 plastic bags while litter picking on campus. I knew there had to be a better way to do it.

“I found the 4Ocean products, a range made from materials and plastics collected from the sea and repurposed into everything from bags, to bracelets and hats, and invested in one of their reusable bags, which is made from a recovered fishing net. I now use this for my litter picking on campus, to avoid using single-use plastic bin bags, and prevent unnecessary plastic waste.”

In the time Andy has been working at the university, he’s saved over 900 single-use plastic bags being used. Which is a whopping effort, and which will only grow over time.

As part of Andy’s role, he’s seen first-hand the levels and kinds of waste generated on campus and urges us all to think before you bin!

Andy said: “A really simple step everyone can take is to think before you bin – if even half of the students and staff get into the habit of being rubbish aware, it would create a huge impact.

“On campus, we’ve got clearly marked bins for each kind of waste, please do take the time to use them correctly. Just one piece of incorrectly disposed of rubbish can contaminate a whole bag and could mean in it can’t be recycled fully. If you get into the habit at home too, you’ll see how easy it can be to change your rubbish habits for the best.”