The Green Paper The Sustainability Lab, BANgor university

This is the last issue of the Green Paper. The Sustainability Lab team would like to thank those of you who have collaborated with us over they years to bring sustainability to life at Bangor University.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all. Stay SAFE!

In this issue we are focussing on:

  • United Nations Goal of the Month - Climate Action
  • Students to explore SHAPE researchers’ impact sustainability
  • KESS 2 Case Study by Rob Brown
  • Seiniau Uchel Carbon Isel
  • Resource Efficiency (Waste Management) at Bangor University
  • Sociology and Climate Change
  • Green Gift Ideas
  • Plant of the month
  • Book of the month

United Nations Goal of the Month - Goal 13, Climate Action

This month the focus is on Climate Action - Sustainable Development Goal 13. 2019 was the second warmest year on record and the end of the warmest decade (2010-2019) ever recorded. Climate change is affecting every country on every continent. It is disrupting national economies and affecting lives. Weather patterns are changing, sea levels are rising and weather events are becoming more extreme.

Greenhouse gas emissions are projected to drop about 6% in 2020 due to travel bans and economic slowdowns as a result of COVID-19. This is still short of the 7.6% annual reduction required to limit global warming to 1.50C. Once the global economy recovers, emissions are expected to return to higher levels.

Many countries are using their recovery plans to shift towards a clean, green and more resilient economy.

What can we do?

We all have a part to play, and even small changes can add up and make a big difference.

  • Turn off lights and appliances when not in use
  • Walk or cycle when possible
  • Share, don’t just like. If you see an interesting social media post on climate change, share it so others in your network see it too
  • Stay informed. Follow local news and find out more about this goal here


Students to explore SHAPE researchers’ impact sustainability

The British Academy and Students Organising for Sustainability UK (SOS-UK) have launched a collaborative ‘SHAPE Impact Projects’. The aim is to engage students and academics across SHAPE disciplines (Social Sciences, Humanities and the Arts for People and the Economy) in realising the relevance and impact of their subjects in tackling environmental, social, and economic sustainability challenges.

The Sustainability Lab collaborated with the College of Arts, Humanities and Business, M-Sparc, Pontio, and Treborth to apply to be part of the scheme. Three Universities have been selected to participate, Bangor University, The University of East Anglia and Manchester Metropolitan University.

Eight students at Bangor University are taking part with support from staff at BU led by Dr Tara Smith, School of Law. They are working on two projects and follow a multi and inter-disciplinary ‘living laboratory’ approach. The first is on ‘Supporting Future Generations at M-Sparc’ and the second is on ‘Enhancing Sustainability in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Curriculum’.

Reporting in early 2021, the entire project is taking place on-line.

Dr Molly Morgan Jones, Director of Policy at the British Academy, said:

“Students have long been at the heart of movements for climate justice and social justice. I’m so excited to see us furthering this by working with the British Academy on the SHAPE Sustainability Impact projects, which provide an amazing opportunity to bring together students and academics from arts, humanities and social sciences, to take action for climate change and social justice.”

Students Finn Cowan, Allanah Quinney and Samantha Newman in the boardroom at M-Sparc speaking to Pryderi ap Rhisiart (M-Sparc)

Main photo: Sofie Roberts (M-Sparc) with students Samantha Newman, Allanah Quinney and Finn Cowan on the roof of M-Sparc where there are plans to install new solar PVs

Digging the dirt on soil health

Soil is a finite and non-renewable resource. It is key to providing a wide range of goods and services such as sustainable food production for a growing population and resilience against climate change. However, increasing the intensity at which we are using soil resources is beginning to cause significant damage.

Rob Brown’s research project, funded by the European Social Fund through KESS 2 at Bangor University, explores the link between the small molecule chemicals that provide the building blocks for life and a soil’s biological health.

Rob says, “Having an in-depth understanding of the changes in the microbial function under different soil conditions is likely to lead to better management of soil resources in the future. My research so far has shown that metabolomics and volatilomics are both able to provide very responsive and sensitive differentiation of soil quality. We have also shown that drought conditions strongly affect the metabolic processing of soil microbiology.”

Rob Brown

KESS 2 is a pan-Wales higher-level skills initiative led by Bangor University on behalf of the HE sector in Wales. It is part-funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) convergence programme for West Wales and the Valleys. For further information about how your organisation could benefit from participating in KESS 2, please contact the team at Bangor: kess2@bangor.ac.uk

Seiniau Uchel Carbon Isel

On Wednesday 25 November pianist and composer Tristian Evans performed two pieces for the ‘Seiniau Uchel, Carbon Isel ('High Pitch, Low Carbon Sounds') project. The project was designed to bring young people's concerns about Climate Change to life and to blend this into a creative piece reflecting the seasonal changes to the weather and the more worrying climate change that is taking place gradually to our earth.

A multi-media composition called 'Water, Sun, Wind, Light' was live-streamed on an AM channel. Inspired by old and new words relating to the environment, Tristian has composed piano pieces in response to the climate crisis we face. Adopting the process of recycling in a creative context, it interweaves old religious tunes, visual material from the archive, texts from the Bible, and youth voices, all of which come to life in two multimedia works for the piano. ‘Water, Sun, Wind, Light’ integrates environmental words chosen by children and young people alongside images to accompany a piano score.

The second piece, Land (Creation/Legacy), which responds to the idea of creation and inheritance from the ground, is then performed by Biblical references and the pianist's family background in Anglesey during the nineteenth century.

Sofie Roberts, M-SParc Low Carbon Officer says

"It was a privilege to be part of this exciting project and it was great to watch Tristian's performance live from my sofa! M-SParc has been developed to create well-paid jobs in the region, in various sectors. Low Carbon is one of these sectors and we have worked hard to bring attention to the sector, with events such as our Energy conferences, and working together on projects such as High, Low Carbon Sounds. There is a strong link between art and Science and Tristian through his composition has brought what has come to light once again".

Tristian says "It was a pleasure to work with M-SParc and Bangor University on the High Carbon Sounds project. By weaving the voices of youth, old films and contemporary images, the multimedia work for the piano seeks to offer a creative response to the climate crisis. Taking into account the constraints faced by artists in the wake of the pandemic, it was a pleasure to perform once again, and to reach a new audience by streaming the performance on Pontio AM. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to this project, funded by the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol".

A performance of the Bangor University project in partnership with Pontio and M-SParc, sponsored by the Coleg Cymraeg.

You can watch the performance here or via the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol Resource Library

Resource Efficiency (Waste Management) at Bangor University

Bangor’s Resource Revolution!

Some things are better apart… Help us become a more sustainable University by moving from a mixed recycling system to a separated one.

Your one orange mixed recycling bin will soon become three:

  1. plastic, metal & cartons (orange lid)
  2. paper & card (blue lid)
  3. glass (red lid)
The new segregated recycling bins on campus

By separating our recycling this way, we aim to improve our recycling rates and produce cleaner, higher-quality recycling with a greater likelihood that the recyclets will be used here in Wales or in the UK. Bangor University currently reuses, recycles and composts 61% of our waste, we aim to increase that to 70% by 2025. Our new bins are also made out of 100% recycled plastic!

Our recycling system will change on the following dates:

  • Office, lab and teaching areas - 14th December 2020
  • St Mary’s Halls of Residence – 21st December 2020
  • Ffriddoedd Halls of Residence – as soon as possible in the new year (recycling is already separated in Ffriddoedd and so students can continue as they are until the new bins are delivered).

Sociology and Climate Change – We need to be at the table.

Earlier last month, the School of Philosophy, History and Social Sciences (SHiPSS) ran a series of public on-line lectures as part of the Festival of Social Science, showcasing how social science can help explain and develop solutions to issues and problems within society.

One of the themes was Sociology and Climate Change that set out to demonstrate the need for Climate Change to be on the social science agenda and calling for the need for an interdisciplinary approach to understanding and tackling the Climate change crisis.

The three presenters each focused on particular aspects of how social science research can contribute:

Dr Gary Robinson discussed the role archology and social sciences can play in archiving and understanding narratives of place and belonging in locations that are being and will be changed by global warming e.g. sea level rises, and discussed how historical analysis of changing landscapes and communities can inform current events;

Dr Corinna Patterson, set out the case for the need for climate change to be on the Social Science agenda and to be at the heart of discussions to understand and find solutions to tackling climate change, focusing particularly on issue of power, inequality, civic empowerment and local and global participation and responsibility;

Dr Marcel Stoetzler explored how a Marxist economic analysis can be applied to, not only understanding social class inequalities, but to understanding environmental exploitation and discussed Marx's concept of the metabolic rift between humans and nature, and the runaway expansionary logic of the capitalist mode of production.

Green Gift Ideas

By Rebecca Lewis

Hello! My name's Rebecca and I'm in my second year of BSc Environmental Conservation at Bangor University. My aim is to help the world in anyway possible and I think writing for the Green Paper could be a great place to start. As we work together to make the world a greener place.

It’s hard to plan during uncertain times. We don’t know if we’ll even see family members this year but still want them to know you are thinking about them without breaking the bank without the anxiety of going out. The best solution is to shop sustainably using local sellers on Etsy. As they offset carbon emissions from every delivery. Some items are a bit pricey, but you can save the items into your favourites and wait until they are on sale and sometimes sellers send you discounts. You can purchase items and send them as a gift without an order receipt which is less paper and right to their door. Cutting out the unnecessary unrecyclable Christmas wrapping paper and will be a welcome surprise through the post. Or for yourself, no judgement here! Tis the season to treat yo self! (Parks and Rec fans will know what I mean.)

But there’s no shame in not being to afford to buy presents this year. If so, why not re-gift something you’ve already got. Like a book you loved reading, send it with a note or card telling them that this is your favourite book and you think they’ll love it as much as you did. Or make something, do something you’re good at and make a gift or some homemade vouchers offering up your skills. Know someone who works too much, send them some cheesy ‘take a break’ vouchers. Paint, draw, knit, bake – it’s the thought that counts, it might be a bit difficult to send baked goods in the post but there are companies that specialise in this, it might be worth researching how they do it.

Many sellers have YouTube channels showing the behind the scenes of seller life (I love to watch them.) They often give tips and tricks on how to make stuff yourself or gives you incentive to support their small business. Use YouTube to teach yourself a new skill and make a gift. Many YouTubers have discount codes and free trials for online learning sites like Skillshare (you’ve probably heard of it before.)

There are many great, unique items available from Etsy at all price ranges. Support a small business rather than a big corporation like Amazon this Christmas and filter your search list to the UK to support a local business. But remember to only buy what you can afford, it’s not worth going into debt over. Here’s a few local Etsy sellers and gift ideas to let your loved ones know you are thinking about them this Christmas even if you can’t be with them.

Battle Green Box - Is a Caernarfon based, family-run business selling zero waste and eco-friendly products. They sell individual items or gift boxes ready made at all price ranges. It would be a great gift for anyone eco conscious or that special someone in your life that could do with being a little bit more eco-friendly.

Anna Gwenllian - Another Caernarfon based seller with beautifully illustrated prints, tote bags, notebooks and cards with uplifting quotes and sayings in Welsh and English some of which are hand printed with eco-friendly inks at budget friendly prices.

YRcandles - A small studio in Somerset hand-pours soy wax candles with a mission to help create relaxing rituals at home which is perfect for quieter Christmas this year. Sending a Christmas scented ‘hug in a jar’ will be a warm welcome.

NB: there are many outlets offering similar products. A mention in this article does not equate to an endorsement by the Sustainability Lab or the University. Please research the outlet/product for yourselves.

Plant of the month

By Natalie Chivers, Treborth Botanic Garden Curator


(Ilex aquifolium)

Festive, neat and prickly. Holly is a well-loved shrub that provides dense cover and good nesting opportunities for birds, while its deep, dry leaf litter may be used by hedgehogs and small mammals for hibernation.

It is common in woodland, scrub and hedgerows, happy growing in the shade of other trees, especially oak and beech.

The small, white flowers in spring are followed by the characteristic bright red berries on pollinated female plants.

The flowers provide nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinating insects. The leaves are eaten by caterpillars of the holly blue butterfly, along with those of various moths, including the yellow-barred brindle, double-striped pug and the holly tortrix.

The berries are a vital source of food for birds in winter, and small mammals, such as wood mice and dormice.

Holly branches have long been used to decorate homes in winter. The tree was seen as a fertility symbol and a charm against witches, goblins and the devil. It was thought to be unlucky to cut down a holly tree.

Holly grows happily in the understory of the woodland at Treborth Botanic Garden and some of the foliage and berries are used in our Christmas wreath making workshops.

Book of the Month

Difficult Women: A History of Feminism in 11 Fights

By Helen Lewis

“Well behaved women seldom make history” – Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

The women featured in the starring roles of “Difficult Women” in Helen Lewis’ book most definitely live-up to the sentiment of the well-known quote.

Across 11 chapters, Lewis introduces and discusses a plethora of women all of whom took up causes close to their hearts, earning the badge of “Difficult Woman” in the process. Covering topics from the right to vote and the right to play football through to access to education and safe abortions, Helen Lewis tells the stories of the women who took on the system and precipitated changes that many take for granted today.

Some of the more well-known names are there – Christabel & Emmeline Pankhurst, Margaret Thatcher, Rosa Parks – but Lewis spends most of the book on the stories of Difficult Women you are less likely to have heard of.

Meet Lily Parr, the heavy-smoking, teenage pioneer of women’s football in the early 20th Century. Jayaben Desai, an immigrant to the UK from Gudjarat, India, who led a two-year strike of workers at a film-processing laboratory near London over working conditions. Sophia Jex-Blake, who fought tirelessly for the right to qualify and practice as a medical doctor at a time (the late 19th Century) when women were not considered “naturally suited” to such work and were not permitted to study at any Medical School in the UK. The list goes on.

Lewis freely admits that few if any of the women she has written about are flawless or perfect. They, like all of us, are human and whilst celebrating their determination and achievements the book also acknowledges their contradictions.

Do you know any “Difficult Women”?

History is littered with examples of Women derided and dismissed as simply “Difficult”; those who upset the status quo and step out of their socially defined roles to stand up for causes they believe in.


Synonyms: Ambitious, Challenging, Demanding, Formidable


Synonyms: Problematic, Bothersome, Prohibitive, Severe

To those opposed to them, “Difficult Women” are very much Women who stand up for themselves, their rights and their beliefs have long been castigated under the banner of being “Difficult”. Difficult in these cases is often a thinly veiled synonym for a wide range of traits considered “undesirable” in the fairer sex; loud, bossy, strident, opinionated, dedicated, driven.