Starting a Sustainability Society at University.

Green and Bop are a society at the University of Sheffield founded in November 2019, by Eleanor King and Florenne Earle Ledger. The focus of our group is to encourage students to live a more sustainable lifestyle and we wanted to take this opportunity to tell you a bit more about what we do!

How the idea came about.

In the summer of 2018 Eleanor King and I were looking back on our first year of university. It had been an exciting year, but we felt like we wanted to do something more worthwhile with our time. Due to a common interest, something sustainability focused seemed like a good idea. We considered making earrings or headbands out of recycled materials, but all of it had been done before and nothing seemed plausible. We got thinking what we had enjoyed over the last 8 months, as it was our first year we had been on many nights out. It came to our attention how unsustainable a lot of the elements of student going out culture were (and still are). So then came the idea of creating a society that would promote an eco-friendly lifestyle at university, by appealing to students who enjoy socializing and care enough about the environment to consider making some small changes. We want Green and Bop to be a light-hearted, environment focused collective that takes the anxiety and pressure out of trying to be more sustainable.

Where the name came from.

The name Green and Bop is a play on words referencing the song Lean & Bop by J Hus. As we aim to make student going out culture more sustainable the name of the society references dancing as well as being ‘green’. We want to reach the many students out there who care about the environment, but not enough to partake in serious climate focused events run by other amazing sustainability groups at the university. Not to say that we don’t hugely respect these societies, but we aim to appeal to an audience that are interested in becoming more eco-friendly, but not as interested in the facts and figures behind it. To do this our first point of call was to tackle the un-environmentally friendly elements of nights out.

Our plan to make student culture more sustainable.

The major flaws we identified within student culture were a lot of single use plastic being used both in clubs and late night takeaways. As well as this, nights out often give people an excuse to unnecessarily buy brand new outfits, potentially from unsustainable fast fashion companies rather than wearing what they own already or shopping second hand. We also considered how the use of taxis harms the planet, encouraging large groups to walk to venues rather than getting several Ubers to and from, contributing to CO2 emissions. I should add that we do not condone people walking around late at night alone or in small groups; this was a suggestion specifically for a large party. Based off this we fashioned our idea of an eco-friendly night out consisting of a slow fashion outfit, walking to and from the venue and not buying a takeaway sold with single use plastic forks or unrecyclable containers. We also formulated plans to appeal to clubs and venues (including the Sheffield SU club, Foundry) to stop using single use plastic. We also had plans to host our own live music events with recycling bins for bottles, preventing people from supporting businesses that use single use plastic and getting like-minded, eco-conscious individuals all in one place.

Due to COVID-19, our focus has deviated from nightlife, we now focus on promoting little changes people can make to live a more environmentally friendly life, like supporting slow fashion and small independent businesses around Sheffield. We promote vegan and veggie cooking/dining and plastic free shower products etc.

Our favourite moments as a society so far.

One of our main successes as a society is our clothes swaps. We hosted two events at Foodhall, one in November and one in February. Anyone and everyone was encouraged to bring something of their own and swap it, or even to take things without bringing their own. The aim of this was to reach out to all members of the community and bring them together to celebrate slow fashion to see how easy and ethical it can be. We would have liked to host more of these events but Coronavirus made this impossible. Foodhall are an amazing organization, they run a ‘pay what you feel café’ and make meals for anyone who wants one! Prior to Coronavirus they hosted all kinds of events from woman and non-binary DJ nights, to pottery classes. We love to support and promote organisations like this that are Sheffield based and have a positive impact on our community.

In May 2020 we worked alongside the sustainability committee at the university, proposing a bill to the SU to cut all ties with fast fashion brands. The sustainability committee pioneered the event, we were only a small part but never the less we are very proud to say it was successful and the Students’ Union is no longer affiliated with fast fashion brands! This means that sample sales in Fresher’s week will no longer go ahead and university merchandise will be more ethically sourced.

Our plans going forward.

Our plans for the future are to keep our online presence thriving as much as possible with our blog and Instagram remaining active, in the hope of reaching a wider audience when we can host in-person events soon. The blog which has just launched is another part of how our society plans to move online, we have planned articles to follow on the likes of sustainable Sheffield eateries and eco-feminism! We are also accepting submissions if you are interested in writing for us, email or DM us.

We plan to do some more online collaborations with other organisations. In November we worked with Solidaritee, another society at Sheffield university raising money and awareness for refugees.

Keep an eye on our socials @greenandbop on Instagram to see what we are up to. You can also like our Facebook page or email us to join our mailing list to be the first to know of our upcoming events.

Florenne Earle Ledger

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