Category Archives: Lifestyle

Sustainability tips and tricks for individuals on the move

Sustainability at Newcastle University  

At Newcastle University, we work on large-scale projects to decrease our carbon dioxide emissions and other negative effects of our activities. As well as this, we encourage sustainable behaviour from our community, and we want to support you with this action. 

Sustainability can be particularly tricky when you’re on the go, so we have pulled together some tips that may help embed some useful habits into a daily routine. 

If we have missed any tried and tested tips, write them down in the comments to share with others! 

Sustainability when you’re on the move 

  • Use your reusable water bottle and coffee cup. 
  • Use your existing reusable shopping bags – we all have them – it’s not sustainable to buy new ones each time you go shopping. 
  • Bring lunch with you to campus, and if you’ve not had time to prepare lunch, choose a takeaway lunch with less or no plastic packaging. 
  • Recycle waste correctly by following our guidance posters which are located above the bins in our buildings on campus. 
  • Walk, wheel, cycle or take the bus or metro to and from campus – you will be decreasing your carbon footprint and the University’s. 
  • Textbooks: buy online versions, second-hand copies, or borrow them from the library where possible. 
  • Shop second-hand for clothes, accessories, electronics, furniture, books… the list goes on! If you’re after physical charity shops, there are loads in the city centre and Jesmond.  
  • Dress for your comfort level in the autumn and winter: you might feel the cold more than others so please do wear appropriate clothing and extra layers. 
  • Talk about sustainability! Ask what it means to others, chat through sustainability action, and you might inspire them to do more. 

If you would like to read some additional sustainable lifestyle tips, check out our lifestyle section on the blog to learn how to introduce sustainability into your kitchen and bathroom.

Sustainability Network 

Want to stay up to date with climate action and sustainability at Newcastle University? 
The Sustainability Network will communicate information about climate action progress at Newcastle University, empower the community with knowledge on key sustainability themes, and advertise upcoming events. 

Join the Sustainability Network!

World Environment Day 2023

World Environment Day is an annual event that takes place on the 5th of June, this day was implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to raise awareness of global environmental problems.

Each year a different theme is selected, and this year’s theme is #BeatPlasticPollution

Plastic pollution is a global crisis that stems from the overuse and over production of plastic.

 “Of the seven billion tonnes of plastic generated globally so far, less than 10% has been recycled”.

(UNEP)

Plastic has many uses, unfortunately many of the common products made from plastic over the years are made for single use only. Some examples of common single use items made from plastic include:

  • Shampoo/ body wash bottles
  • Plastic cutlery, plates, and straws
  • Plastic drink bottles
  • Laundry detergent bottles or containers
  • Plastic bags
  • Food packaging

It is with the rise of these single use items that plastic has become a material commonly found in our environment in areas such as rivers, the sea, and forests in addition to the everyday environment.

Problems with plastic pollution

Causing harm to marine life

The various impacts of plastic and microplastics on marine life has been outlined by the UNEP “impacts to marine life range from physical or chemical harm to individual animals, to wider effects on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning”.

Many marine animals have been trapped in plastic, they have digested plastic and marine animals that have digested plastic that has contained toxins are based down through food chains extending toxicity to multiple animals.

Marine ecosystems as a whole are also being damaged by plastic as the material sinks to the bottom of seabeds and smothers coral reefs which prevents them from thriving due to a change in conditions.

Causing harm to humans

New studies are being conducted that research the impact of plastic and microplastic on humans. Some studies suggest that microplastics are making their way into humans through a plethora of ways, such as inhaling or digesting. Research is being conducted to understand the physical implications of this on the human body. This research is the first step in developing an understanding of how microplastics will affect humans, however it does indicate that a precautionary approach should be implemented before extensive harmful effects occur.

The harm of plastic pollution on humans is also visible through the social, economic, and political effects. Developing countries and governments unfortunately do not have the monetary means for highly efficient waste disposal methods. They also do not produce as much plastic waste as developed countries, but often other countries waste ends up in other regions. Developing countries often rely on the marine environment for water and food, therefore if the marine life is infiltrated by plastic pollution this then filters through to the community relying on it.

Causing harm to the climate

Plastic is produced from a fossil fuel (oil) which is a resource that needs to be used less worldwide if we are to prevent further climate change. The UNEP highlights that “plastic products create greenhouse gas emissions across their entire lifecycle” outlining the need to reduce plastic production to reduce climate change.

While plastic is harming marine life and marine ecosystems with its physical presence, plastic production is also harming the ocean through the warming and chemical change that is a result of being a large carbon sink. The world currently has a large amount of carbon within its atmosphere (a proportion of which is from plastic production) therefore the ocean is working overtime to absorb carbon from the atmosphere which is having a detrimental effect.

Resources for World Environment Day 2023

World Environment Day 2023 is about learning how to live in a society that relies on a resource that is causing extensive damage and cannot be ignored any longer. #BeatPlasticPollution will contain resources, guidance and information relating to the elimination of the plastic in today’s society.

The official campaign webpage for World Environment Day 2023 is: World Environment Day.

If you would like to learn how to reduce the use of plastic within your home, please read our previous posts about reduction of plastic in your kitchen and bathroom.

Event coming up:

Second hand market

Pop down and have a browse of the stalls selling items such as: books, clothes and other household items which will all sold by students. The sustainability team will also be at the event if you have any questions on how to best dispose of items that you no longer need.

  • Event date: Wednesday 7th June 2023Event time: 11am-3pm
  • Event time: 11am-3pm
  • Event location: Newcastle University Students Union, outside on the Luther’s Terrace

Green Careers: Why You Should Choose a Career in Sustainability

Over the past few years, there has been an increased awareness for the state of the planet and the need to take action to avoid further environmental crisis. Sustainability is becoming central to the way we live and, as a consequence, the number of jobs in the industry has rapidly grown. This blog post will address why working in sustainability is a good idea, why the industry is not just for environmental science graduates and how Newcastle University Careers Service can help you break into the industry. 

Why a career in Sustainability? 

Having a career in sustainability can be an incredibly rewarding. It offers the opportunity to make a positive impact and help create solutions towards a better future. If you’re passionate about making a difference and contributing towards a better world, working in sustainability can offer you a sense of purpose and fulfilment which you may not find in other professions.  

Sustainability work is also a growing area with a wide range of career opportunities. From the government to the private sector, there is plenty of work within the industry. These roles can be varied from policy development to marketing to analytics roles, there is something for every skill set. 

It is exciting to be able to make changes to an organisation that will decrease its negative impacts on the world, and increase its positive impacts. In addition to the work that you put in in your organisation for sustainability, other sustainability professionals that you talk to and collaborate with are a really supportive bunch of people – I love that us in the sector all help each other out with our work because we go through the same challenges and there’s no reason not to share solutions and best practice – we all want each other to be the most sustainable we can be. 

KatY, sUSTAINABILITY oFFICER AT nEWCASTLE uNIVERSITY

But I didn’t do an Environmental Science degree? 

No problem! While environmental science is an important part of the industry, it is not the only discipline relevant to the field. Sustainability is highly interdisciplinary and professionals from many different industries can work within the field. For example, someone with a marketing background could be a sustainability communications officer or someone with a law background could work within environmental law.  

Prospects provides a great list of some environmental career profiles but this is not an extensive list and there are more opportunities than listed here. Newcastle University also have a page for sustainability careers and development which has a useful list of professional associations, funding opportunities, upcoming events and job sites to find jobs in sustainability. 

Although I am still at the early stages of my Sustainability Career, I love feeling as if I am making a positive impact each day. I am able to use my unique background in humanities subjects (Combined Honours in Geography and Spanish) to help bring a new perspective to current environmental issues and help create interdisciplinary solution.  It is really satisfying to see the positive difference I can make, and I am excited to continue to develop my skills as I move up in the field!  

How Newcastle Careers Service can help 

Newcastle University Careers Service can be a great place to find support and guidance about entering the Sustainability sector. They offer a range of resources including career information and guidance, CV and LinkedIn checks and preparation for interviews. You can book an appointment with the career’s service on MyCareer and speak to one of the University’s advisors. 

All current Newcastle Students and recent graduates of up to 3 years can make appointments with the service. 

You can also visit the career’s service dedicated environment page for further advice on gaining work experience and finding jobs in the sector. 

A Look Inside the SESC: How Newcastle University Students are Making a Difference

The Student Environment & Sustainability Committee (SESC) is a student-led group which looks to improve sustainability at the University. The group aims to gather feedback and understand student priorities regarding sustainability. The SESC is chaired by the Ethics and Environment Rep and is attended by Environment & Sustainability (E&S) Reps from many academic schools. Any student can sign up to be an E&S rep, just ask about the position at your school at the start of each academic year! 

The History 

The SESC was created in 2020 following student Emilie Coutin’s year as Ethics and Environment Officer. During her time in this role, Emilie set up numerous activities, including regular Ethics and Environment Discussion Groups and a Student-Staff Summit, where students were able to put their ideas to members of Executive Board. When Emilie left the post, she put plans in place to create a Student Environment and Sustainability Committee, to feed into the [Staff] Environment and Sustainability Committee. This became the SESC we have today. 

Watch our video to learn more about Student Action at Newcastle University!

Who is in the SESC? 

Attendance at SESC meetings is notexclusive to E&S reps; any interested students are welcome to attend and contribute. Just get in contact with your school’s E&S Rep, or NUSU’s Ethics and Environment Rep to ask to join a meeting.   Meeting outcomes  are  taken to the University’s Environment and Sustainability Committee (ESC). The [Staff] ESC   is mostly made up of colleagues but is also attended by one or more Students’ Union Sabbatical Officers, the Ethics and Environment Rep & a postgraduate officer. 

We have representatives on the SESC from schools across campus including: Architecture, GPS (Geography, Politics and Sociology), Psychology, Combined Honours, SNES (Natural and Environmental Sciences), Computing, English, Planning and Business. 

Read on to find out what being a SESC rep is like from the reps themselves. 

Why did you choose to become an Environment and Sustainability Rep? 

Being an Environmental and Sustainability Rep provides me with lots of opportunities to get involved in increasing climate issue awareness, campus development and other activities. I also get the great experience of working alongside the people who are striving for the better future and care about making our University environmentally friendly. – Vladislava 

While in year 11/6th form, I decided to become a member of the eco committee when I became more aware of our impact on the environment. After stage 1 at university, I wanted to become more involved in the university in some way, so I volunteered to be on the Student Staff Committee for my degree as a stage rep. There was an open position for the E&S rep, and I thought this would line up well with my role from the past. – Sham 

What does your role involve? 

A lot of teamwork and doing your own research. I usually go through some ‘hot topics’ related to the climate change, sustainability, local development etc. and try to brainstorm some ideas of how to apply it at our University. During the meeting we discuss all possible solutions to current issues and Reps can present their thoughts.  – Vladislava 

Away from the SESC meetings, I have worked with staff in my school towards reducing our impact on the environment as a degree specifically. This is ongoing and I can gather feedback from others on my degree/ in my school on things to bring up at SSC meetings, where I can either take it to SESC meetings to discuss or meet with staff to seek improvements. In the SESC meetings I provide feedback on any ongoing campaigns and play a role in helping organise any future events. I also gather information which is to be brought back to the SSC meetings to be distributed to students around the school/ degree. -Sham 

What would you say to somebody who is thinking about taking up this role next year? 

Our future begins here and now, and you can change it! Be brave, curious and use your potential as much as you can!  – Vladislava 

There doesn’t have to be a lot of work involved to make a difference and if it is something that you are passionate about then it won’t be any work at all. It feels great to be able to make an instant difference to what is happening around you when making changes within your sphere or around the university/ planning events. – Sham 

Rubbish Revelations

Reduce, reuse, and recycle are three strategies that can help us protect the environment. The ‘Three R’s’ were first publicised in the 1970s around the same time the universal logo for recycling was created, but do you know what they really mean?

The ‘Three Rs’ are actually listed in order of importance.

Reduce

Reduce is the most effective of the three because it involves decreasing the amount of waste we generate in the first place. By reducing our consumption of goods and resources, we can minimize the amount of waste that needs to be managed or disposed of, which avoids all the emissions and pollution that are produced form recycling or disposing of the waste. However, we also avoid producing the emissions and pollution associated with the manufacturing and production of the items in the first place.

If you would like to learn more about waste reduction you can read our post about International Day of Zero Waste.

Reuse

Reuse is the next best option because it involves finding new ways to use items that would otherwise be thrown away.  Reusing or preparing items for reuse involves assessing the condition of items, and determining if they can be restored to a usable condition. This may include repairing damaged items, cleaning them, or upgrading them. Once the items have been restored, they can be sold or donated to others for use. At the University, we do this through our IT contractor and furniture reuse partners who take items for refurbishment or reuse. We also have a dedicated mailing list for furniture reuse available to all colleagues – it currently has over 600 members! Small amounts of furniture that need a new home can be listed for another member to claim to reduce the need for purchasing new furniture or equipment, and to prevent it going to waste.

Recycling

Recycling is the last of the ‘Three Rs’ but it’s still incredibly important. Recycling helps conserve natural resources, reduce landfill waste, save energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create jobs and economic benefits.

Putting the correct things in the recycling bin can be complex, as each country, each council in the UK and even each organisation may have a different list of what you can put in a recycling bin. To make it EVEN MORE complicated, just because an item has the recyclable symbol on it, doesn’t really mean you can recycle it!

Our new recycling posters provide guidance on what can go in our recycling bins and if in doubt, scan the QR code on the poster to check our Waste A-Z. If you’re STILL in doubt, then pop your waste into the general waste bin as this is better than potentially contaminating the recycling bins.

It is very important that the recyclables placed within the bins are clean and are not contaminated by food or non-recyclables as this could result in all the waste being sent to an incinerator rather than being recycled.

Keep an eye out for our posters around campus.

Where does Newcastle University’s waste go?

Our non-recyclables (the black bins) are taken to Wallsend and then loaded onto a trailer to go to the Energy from Waste plant at Ferry Bridge in West Yorkshire.  The plant burns the waste at high temperatures in a controlled environment to generate energy. The heat produced by the combustion is used to generate steam, which in turn drives turbines to produce electricity. The electricity generated by the plant is then sent to the National Grid to be distributed to homes and businesses. The Plant has advanced pollution control measures in place to minimize emissions and meet strict environmental regulations.

Our recycling waste is taken to a Material Recovery Facility (MRF). At the MRF the recycling materials that have been placed into the recycling bins are sorted and graded into different categories. They are then bailed and passed on to processing plants to be turned into new materials. For example, the PET (primarily plastic bottles) we produce is currently processed at the Biffa Polymers facility in Seaham, where it is turned from baled raw materials back into high-purity plastic pellets that is then sold to drinks makers and other manufacturers for a range of purposes, from food packaging to clothing. This is currently one of the most advanced PET recycling facilities in the world.

Our food waste is taken by a contractor to an anaerobic digestion facility. Here, billions of bacteria ‘feed’ on the food waste and produce a methane rich ‘biogas’ which is then used to generate electricity. 

Forms of commuting to get to Newcastle University

Commuting at Newcastle University

Commuting is a part of nearly everyone’s working or studying life at Newcastle University, which is why it is included within our Climate Action Plan. Staff and student commuting contributes to around 3% of the University’s scope 3 carbon emissions alongside other sources such as business travel and capital goods. For many years, travelling by car has been the preferred travel option due to convenience, however there are more sustainable methods of commuting that create less emissions such as forms of active travel. The University community can decrease their individual carbon footprints through acts such as adapting their commuting habits, this would also decrease the University’s.

Newcastle University scope 3 emissions – headline activity % breakdown (tCO2e) p19 from our Climate Action Plan

There are multiple forms of sustainable travel that we can use to get onto Newcastle University’s campus and this post aims to communicate the various benefits of them. We will also outline the facilities and initiatives that are available to staff and students which could make the methods of travel easier for you.

Active forms of travel

Active travel refers to the extensive variety of travel methods that require using your own body to get from A to B. This includes forms of travel such as walking, wheeling, cycling, running, and using a scooter. There are multiple benefits of active travel which include:  

Benefits of active travel

  • Environmental: Utilising active travel contributes towards the reduction of air pollution, as many forms of motorised transport contribute to air pollution. If we collectively avoid the use of private motorised transport when we can, we are able to reduce air pollution globally. This also helps to reverse the biodiversity loss that stems from increased global temperature.
  • Mental wellbeing benefits: It has been noted by Sustrans that “an increase in physical activity has been proven to be associated with benefits to mental health”. Therefore, if your form of regular commuting includes physical activity, this could potentially help to improve your mental health.

Walking, wheeling, scooting and running to campus

Walking, wheeling, or running to campus are excellent methods of commuting as they all include the benefits listed. When travelling by these methods to campus, it is worth noting that there are facilities available on campus such as showers and changing facilities which are available for staff and students to use.
Locations of these facilities can be found in Newcastle University’s Travel Plan.

Cycling to campus

If the previous methods of active travel are not suitable for you, cycling is an alternative option. This can be an excellent option if you have a longer commute and the University has some initiatives and groups that may help you with the transition.

  • The University has multiple storage facilities available across campus where you can leave your bike for the day. By providing storage facilities and compounds we hope to remove the worry about where to keep your bike while you are at work or studying. Information regarding where the storage facilities are and how you can get access to secure compounds can be found here.
  • The University also has a Bicycle Users Group (BUG) that University staff and students can join on Microsoft Teams. The group communicates information to each other such as safety tips, useful commuting routes and other travel news that relates to all cycling matters.

To be added to the BUG mailing list, please contact sustainable.campus@ncl.ac.uk with the subject “Join BUG”.

  • The University provides a cycle-to-work-scheme benefit that helps staff members spread the cost using salary sacrifice when they are looking to purchase a new bicycle. The scheme is provided and managed by People Services.
  • There are facilities available on campus for those who use forms of active travel such as cycling to commute to the University. You can shower and change in the facilities provided, the locations of this facilities are listed under showers/changing facilities available on campus.

Other forms of travel

There are plenty of other ways to travel to work when active transport alone is not feasible. These include:

  • Bus – Many bus routes are currently only £2 for a single and £4 for a day ticket. There are also other discounts available for frequent bus users.
  • Metro- A quick and easy way to get to the city centre. The Metro has many discounted travel schemes including a Student Metro Pass, a 19-21 Pop Card and many more. Use the General Ticket Finder to find the best ticket for your journey.
  • Rail- For longer journeys, rail can be a great way to commute. There are lots of options available to save on your journey including numerous types of railcard and season/flexi tickets.

Events coming up:

Sustainability Week: We are hosting a Sustainability-themed week in March. It will include a variety of in-person and virtual events and will conclude with an in-person Sustainability Festival on Friday 10th March. Please join us to learn more about sustainability and climate action at Newcastle University.

Fake bills February: Are you a first-year student who is worried about paying energy bills next year after living in halls? We are collaborating with ResLife who work within Newcastle University’s Accommodation Service to break down the confusion surrounding energy bills. With the cost-of-living crisis being a prominent element in everyday life for many students, we are aiming to help you feel more confident in understanding what you will be paying for. 

If you are a student who lives in one of Newcastle University’s student villages, you can enter a competition that will provide you with a mock energy bill so you can work out some missing figures that are missing by using the equations and information provided. Enter the competition here.

What is the Energy Price Cap and what does it mean for you?

The terms ‘Energy Price Cap’ and ‘Energy Price Guarantee’ appear almost daily on the news and social media. They seem very important but, unfortunately, these phrases are not well explained, and many people don’t understand what they are and what this means for them. This blog will help clarify these terms, allowing you to better understand the current situation and manage your bills better. 

What is the Energy Price Cap (EPC)? 

The EPC was introduced by Ofgem (the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets) in January 2019. Its aim was to prevent households on variable tariffs being overcharged by limiting what you pay for each unit of gas and electricity. It also sets a maximum daily standing charge (the fare you pay to be connected to the grid). 

The EPC is largely calculated off wholesale prices (those that suppliers pay), network costs (building and maintaining the network) and supplier operating costs. It applies to households on standard and default tariffs which the majority of people are now on. If you are unsure what sort of tariff you are on, consult your energy provider. 

Myth: The Energy Price Cap is the maximum you can pay per year. 

Fact: There is no maximum charge for an energy bill, just a maximum daily standing charge & cost per energy unit. The price given by EPG and EPC is the average amount a household will spend per year. 

What is the Energy Price Guarantee (EPG)? 

As a result of very high energy prices, the EPG was created by the government in October 2022. This provides a discount on the EPC as the government is subsidising the cost of energy. For example, between 1st January and 31st March the energy price cap is £4,279/year however with EPG discount, this is reduced to £2,500/yr.  

The EPC changes every 3 months, and each time it changes, the government provides a discount to keep typical household bills lower. If the energy price cap falls below the EPG in the future, the EPC will be reinstated, and you’ll pay this instead. 

What does this mean for my household? 

As of January 2023, a household with a ‘normal’ amount of energy use would pay the EPG of £2,500/year. This is set to rise in April to £3,000 a year and will remain at this level until the end of March 2024. This is much lower than what the costs should have been for this winter but higher than previous years. 

The government has also given all households a £400 energy bills discount in October 2022. This should have been paid to you in 6 instalments taking £66 off your energy bills each month. If you use a bills package like UniHomes or Fused you should receive the discount from them as a reduction in your bills. If you pay your bills to your landlord, they are legally required to make sure you benefit from the rebate

There is also further aid for households on certain means, pensioners and those with disability benefits.  

What should I do if I’m struggling to pay my bills? 

If you are worried you may not be able to pay your energy bill, make sure to seek help. There are resources to help you and make sure you are not left cut off. These articles from The Money Saving Expert and Citizen’s Advice have some useful advice about the support available and how to access it. 

What if I still have questions? 

For further information about how the energy price cap affects you, see these pages from NUSU and The Money Saving Expert

Travelling Sustainably

One of the largest industries on the planet is the travel industry. Every year, millions of people travel across the globe for business, to see friends and family or just for a holiday getaway. Unfortunately, this industry is accompanied by problematic environmental impacts. In fact, according to the International Council on Clean transport (2019), aviation contributes 2.4% of all global carbon emissions. As we realise it is not possible to completely stop travelling, we have put together a few tips to help make your travels as environmentally friendly as possible. 

An airplane flying in the sky

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  1. Fly Economy Class 

Flying business/first-class has a larger carbon footprint than flying economy class. This is because the business and first class seats are using much more space and are therefore accountable for a greater share of the aircraft’s fuel. Economy seats, especially on an airline with a high number of seats, are a lower impact option on the plane. 

  1. Travel slowly 

If you’re taking a short-haul or domestic trip, think about alternative methods of transport to flying. A train or coach can allow you to appreciate culture as you travel to your destination. If you’re looking for a sustainable way to reach a destination, check out this carbon saving emissions tool by Manchester University. 

  1. Try to avoid layovers 

Did you know that the highest amount of greenhouse gases of a plane journey, are released during take-off and landing? This means that if you make multiple stops on your trip the extra emissions can quickly add up. Connecting flights also mean you usually have to travel a greater distance, adding even more emissions onto the journey. 

  1. Find local adventures 

If it is not necessary for your trip to be abroad, why not explore your local area instead? There are often some great destinations within a few hours train or car ride away. Here are some great short trips you can travel to by train and by car from Newcastle. 

Local Adventures! Some pictures from our team of North-East treasures.  

Bamburgh Castle
Holy Island, Lindisfarne
St Mary’s Lighthouse, Whitley Bay

What about carbon offsetting? 

Carbon offsetting involves individuals or companies investing in environmental projects in order to balance out their own carbon emissions. This could include activities such as forestry conservation (to encourage plants that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere) or the creation of renewable energy resources. Whilst these projects may appear very beneficial, carbon offsetting does not come problem free. 

Carbon offsets do not work for the core issue of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. They often allow a ‘business as usual’ approach, encouraging an idea that you can just offset whatever carbon you produce. Furthermore, not all of these projects are realised, and sometimes those that are, aren’t completed to their full potential. For example, you may pay to create a forest, however if that forest burns down in its infancy, the project’s full efficacy is not reached. 

For carbon offsetting to be an effective action, it must be coupled with reducing your overall emissions and not just as a substitute for reducing. 

Have we missed one of your favourite eco-friendly travel tips? Let us know in the comments below! 

The Newcastle Clean Air Zone: Your questions answered

A Clean Air Zone (CAZ) has now been introduced for parts of Newcastle in order to improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Confused about what this means for you? This blog post will hopefully answer your questions. 

What is the CAZ and when does it start? 

The CAZ is an area within Newcastle where measures have been put into place in order to improve air quality. The zone covers most of Newcastle city centre as well as the Tyne, Swing, High Level and Redheugh bridges. Only buses, coaches, taxis, vans and heavy goods vehicles that do not meet Clear Air Zone emissions standards are affected by the zone. Private cars are currently not affected. 

Map of the Clean Air Zone in Newcastle City Centre. View an interactive map on the Newcastle CAZ (Breathe) webpages. 

The CAZ is now in place, however no charges will apply to vehicles (taxis, buses, coaches and HGVs) until 30th January 2023. Charges for vans and light goods vehicles will be delayed until July 2023 due to national vehicle supply issues. 

Why do we need a CAZ? 

Clean air is essential to our wellbeing. Poor air quality is linked to serious health conditions including heart disease, cancers and breathing problems. This can be especially serious in older people, young children and those who spend a lot of time driving. As a consequence, the government made it a legal requirement for councils to take action to reduce harmful levels of nitrogen dioxide emissions from vehicles. A CAZ is a highly effective way of doing this. 

Newcastle isn’t alone in introducing a CAZ. Several other cities have implemented them including Bath, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Portsmouth and soon Sheffield. 

A CAZ will also support important efforts to reduce carbon emissions from vehicles in the city. 

How do I know if my vehicle will be charged? 

You can check if your vehicle is affected by the CAZ by using the government’s online vehicle checker.  

Table showing a guide as to which vehicles meet the CAZ standards. Make sure to check your vehicle using the link above. 

If your vehicle does not meet CAZ standards, you can apply for funding to help replace/upgrade it so that it is complaint with the new rules. There is eligibility criteria and advice on applying for a grant online on the Newcastle CAZ (Breathe) webpages. 

Some vehicles are exempt from the new charges. These include emergency vehicles, agricultural vehicles, motor caravans and community transport vehicles. You can find a full list of national and local exemptions, and information on how to apply for an exemption, on the Newcastle CAZ (Breathe) webpages

How does the CAZ affect Newcastle University

Newcastle University has a fleet of commercial vehicles, for example, for the Estates and Facilities porter team, and some minibuses. 

The University will be ensuring that all our vehicles are in line with CAZ policy. 

What if I have further questions? 

If you have any further general questions about the CAZ, email the local council at caz.helpdesk@newcastle.gov.uk. 

Or for University-specific questions email the Estates helpdesk at ess-helpdesk@newcastle.ac.uk. 

Small sustainable swaps for your kitchen

Whilst some of these products may have properties that are more sustainable than other products that we are likely to use, the most sustainable option is to use what you currently have if it is in a good condition or you have plenty of it. However, should you run out of some kitchen essentials then you should check out the post below for some eco-conscious swaps if you would like to try something new. 

Washing up:  

While some households have a dishwasher, some do not, therefore we need to address the various amounts of single-use plastic involved with mainstream washing up practices. Here are a few easy swaps to reduce the plastic in your kitchen sink:  

  • Do you need a new dish scrubber? You could swap to a bamboo and wooden brush for washing dishes instead of a plastic brush. When buying one of these brushes try and get one where you replace the scrubbing head only instead of the handle and the head as this will cut down on waste in addition to plastic. Products made from natural fibres will decompose naturally in a compost bin however plastic sits in landfill for many years. Some places that you can buy these from include: Nil Living, Peace of the Wild and eco-living. 
  • If you use disposable plastic sponges you could swap these out for an alternative such as a loofah dish sponge, these can be bought from Nil Living.  
  • An additional swap would be to use a reusable container with a pump for washing up liquid instead of buying single-use bottles. To fill the container up, either take it to a refill shop (like Nil Living in Grainger Market) or order a refill of washing up liquid from various retailers online (however when doing this try to make sure it comes in a 100% recyclable packet. Alternatively, you could try solid washing up soap bars instead such as the ones sold in Something Good.  

Cleaning surfaces: 

Often the products that we use to clean our work surfaces in the kitchen are in the form of disposable wipes or single-use plastic spray bottles. Here are a few swaps that could eliminate both products from your kitchen and keep it sparkling and clean. 

  • Switch to cleaning products that send out biodegradable refill sachets (or recyclable packaging) instead of single-use products. Some that we recommend are Method or Ocean Saver. This means that the bottle you use for your spray will be continuously reused instead of the single use sprays that are commonly bought. 
  • You can also try reusable dish and dusting cloths which can go in the wash instead of kitchen roll or non-reusable wipes.

Washing clothes  

Unfortunately, even everyday necessary activities contribute to marine plastic pollution, and this includes washing your clothes. Many clothes are made (in whole or in part) from plastics such as nylon and acrylic, which release fibres of microplastics when washed and end up in our drains, waterways and the sea.

“Plastic particles washed off from synthetic clothes contribute up to 35% of the primary microplastic that is polluting our oceans”

Planet care
  • The initial step when attempting to prevent microplastics from reaching the sea starts from before washing and stems from buying. When looking to invest in new garments (second hand or new) you could try to opt for natural fibre made products such as cotton, hemp or linen that will not release plastic. 
  • You could also invest in a microfiber filter for your washing machine which will help to catch most of the fibres that are released during washes such as the one made by PlanetCare. Alternatively, you could use a Guppy Bag to wash your garments in which also helps to capture most of the fibres. 
  • When washing your clothes, washing machines often automatically opt for the higher temperature settings even when they aren’t required, so before you put a wash on you could turn down the dial to 30 degrees to save energy and your clothes from excess heat.  
  • If you have a garden to hang your laundry to dry outside instead of using a tumble dryer (particularly in the summer) this will also help you to save money and energy within your household. If you don’t have a garden, hanging your clothes out to try indoors and using a small dehumidifier is still more energy efficient than using a tumble dryer. 

Food 

Studies have shown that food systems make up somewhere in the region of a third of global carbon emissions. By being conscious of what and how much we buy, we can help minimise the food waste coming out of our households and into landfill where it breaks down and produces even more greenhouse gases. We hope this helps to give you some inspiration for how you can operate your kitchen with sustainability as well as tasty food in mind. 

  • You can opt for loose fruit and vegetables, if possible, you can take a bag with you to the market (such as Grainger Market) to carry them in and this way you will only buy what you need and will not be buying single use plastic. 
  • Try to eat seasonally to the country that you are in as this will mean you are buying better quality produce and will not need to be flown in. If you have a garden, you could have a go at growing some easy produce such as carrots, potatoes and herbs. 
  • To avoid adding food waste scraps to landfill, you could keep a food waste caddy in your kitchen and build a compost heap in your garden and use the output to add nutrients to your soil. 
  • Do you like to batch cook? We do too as it helps to save energy! Put your leftovers in Tupperware instead of cling film as these can be reused unlike cling film and it will also prevent spillages in your bag. You can save your takeaway containers after washing them to put your lunches and snacks in.  
  • We have also got a food waste post filled with tips for those who would like to reduce their food waste which you can find here: 

Events in January: 

Veganuary: If you haven’t tried a plant-based diet, Veganuary is a great opportunity to give it a go! Eating a more plant-based diet reduces the carbon footprint of our food.  

It is no secret that as an international community we need to reduce the harmful emissions that are an output from mass agricultural farming so if you are curious about participating in this challenge have a look at the Veganuary website and check out our recent blog post, please get in touch if you have any questions about this blog post or Veganuary.