Eco Office: Who’s keen to take the challenge?

The Sustainability Office is re-launching its popular Eco Office program for 2019, and we want you and your department to get involved with us!

eco office ferns

Even though sometimes working in an office might feel a little distant from the natural world, what we use and how we behave in the office has a real impact. You can view Eco Office a little like a health and safety checklist, but for the environment!

The Eco Office programme is a four-step process, and includes making simple (yet effective) changes in some key work space areas: energy, transport, water, recycling and waste reduction, paper use and buying ‘green’.

The best bit is, there is an optional Eco Office Certification process your office can participate in because we believe recognising your achievements is important! Once your office has signed up to the programme, your team has the option of taking a baseline sustainability assessment to see what you’re already doing, and where you might need some help. Then, together with the support from the Sustainability Office, you work through our simple, 4 step process to see how you are progressing in becoming a fully-fledged Eco Office!

After the completion of each stage, you are awarded a certificate to proudly display on the wall. Sounds like a good place for some fun inter-department competitions…

While we know that many of you are doing wonderful things to ‘green’ your personal and work lives already, we want to relaunch the programme as a way to support office-based behaviour change for sustainability. Who’s on board?

Download the Eco Office Guide here. It’s full of tips and ideas for greening your office, many of which are relevant to the Eco Office Certification Process. Interested in learning more, or want to know where to start? The Sustainability Office team can come and chat to your department, and help answer any questions you may have about becoming an Eco Office.

Email for more information, or how to get started. We’d love to hear from you!



Spring into cycling at UC!

What better time to take advantage of the warmer days and longer evenings than Biketober? (that’s right, Bike + October = Biketober!)

Earlier this month, UC Sustainability and UC Bike celebrated their first ever Bike Fest: a celebration of spring, and all things cycling! This coincided perfectly with Biketober, Christchurch’s annual festival of cycling. A recipe for a cycling party if you ask us!

Later in the same week, we also offered two Cycle Skills Sessions for UC students and staff, to practise some safe road cycling skills. We ran these sessions alongside Connie from Go Cycle Christchurch, and we had a blast! Read more about these sessions, and how you can be involved next time here.

So, what happened at the Bike Fest?

We invited our Christchurch cycling community to come along and celebrate with us – on bikes of course! See the photo highlights of the day below.

We had a bit of everything going on, for every type of cyclist – and those who aren’t cycling yet, but are perhaps keen to start. We had a BBQ serving up a free lunch, the smoothie bike pumping out pedal powered banana and blueberry smoothies, competitions and giveaways, cycle skills sessions sign ups, city cycle way maps and Biketober promo, on-the-spot bike repairs, the Rec Centre running watt bike competitions for free spin classes, and more! It was a fantastic day in the sunshine to celebrate all things cycling for our UC community.

A perfect spring day to celebrate our Bike Fest!
Free kai always brings a crowd!
The UC Bike team about to begin the ‘slow race’
Meg from the CDHB and the famous smoothie bike!
Andy from Around Again Cycles offering on-the-spot repairs, and explain the UC student and staff cycle deals



C Block Lawn: the perfect place to celebrate cycling on campus!
The Rec Centre’s famous watt bike competition ready to go!
It’s hard work eating sausages and lying in the sun!


Dr Bike and Around Again Cycle’s fix it clinic proved popular as ever.
The smoothie bike in full swing!
George, winner of the ‘slow race’ taking home an Eco Tanka and a reusable coffee cup!


Connie and Dawn from Go Cycle Christchurch, offering sign ups to their free cycle skills sessions and handing out Biketober promo.


We hope you all enjoyed learning about the ways you can become involved with cycling at UC. We can’t wait for our next cycling event: keep your eyes peeled!

Want to hear about more cycling related events like this? Join our Bicycle Users Group (BUG)! We’ve created a commuter cycling community at UC, and we’d love you to be a part of it. Sign up to our email list, and be the first to hear about events like this, as well as workshops, social rides, cycle meet ups, campus cycle parking updates, and other cycling events that we think you’ll love (both on and off campus). Interested? Sign up here!

Finally, a huge thanks to our supporters and sponsors of our Bike Fest, we couldn’t have done it without you!


Cycle Skills Sessions

Cycle skills session (permission)

YAY for confident, safe commuter cyclists!

Last week UC Sustainability and Go Cycle Christchurch hosted two free 45 minute cycle skills sessions for UC students and staff, to help get more of us cycling confidently on the roads this spring.

We held these sessions on Ilam Fields Tennis Courts, away from cars and any hazards, and practised our basic road skills – signalling, looking behind, safe stops, controlled zig zags, and discussed some tips for staying safe on the roads.

We also spent time chatting about safe routes and other ways to get involved with cycling in our city – like the range of activities offered this month as part of Biketober (Christchurch’s annual festival of cycling: Bike + October = Biketober!)

And: we ended the sessions with seven big smiles! A huge thanks to Connie from Go Cycle Christchurch for offering us these sessions.

Missed out this time, or interested in attending a session like this? Send the UC Sustainability Office an email, and we can update you on our next upcoming session (looking to be March 2019). Alternatively, contact Connie directly. She runs sessions like this once or twice a week all over the city, for a range of levels, and all for free! You can find out more on her Facebook page called Go Cycle Christchurch, or send her an email to book into one of her sessions.

Don’t have a bike? The Sustainability Office can help you organise a bike to borrow for the day from the UCSA’s Bike Share Scheme. It’s free, all you need is a staff or student ID, and you can borrow a bike and a helmet until 5pm weekdays. See more on the Bike Share Scheme here!

Want to hear about more cycling related events like this? Join our Bicycle Users Group (BUG)! We’ve created a commuter cycling community at UC, and we’d love you to be a part of it. Sign up to our email list, and be the first to hear about sessions like this, as well as workshops, social rides, cycle meet ups, and other cycling events (both on and off campus). Interested? Sign up here!


We would love to run these sessions on a semi-regular basis, and build up to running short confidence rides on the quiet streets and cycle ways around the university. Again, if this sounds like you, be in touch, and we will aim to run these in March 2019.

Until then, happy cycling UC!

UC Sustainability


Fairtrade Fortnight at UC: Highlights reel

As a Fair Trade Accredited Campus, one of UC Sustainability’s biggest campaigns on campus each year is Fairtrade Fortnight. This two week celebration of all things fair trade is coordinated by Fairtrade ANZ, and aims to increase consumer awareness about the benefits and impact that choosing fair trade products has, by looking for their Fairtrade mark.

Fair trade supports marginalised farmers and workers in developing countries, enabling them to take care of their environment and to build a better and more secure life for themselves, their families and their communities. By changing the balance of power in trade, purchasing fair trade creates a real, positive difference in people’s lives, from the farmers and workers growing crops, right through the supply chain to the place where you buy the end product.


What does this mean for UC?

Being recognised as a Fair Trade University means our community is committed to being a socially responsible institution. We demonstrate this by supporting fair trade growers and producers in our department kitchens, campus retail outlets, through our supplier contracts, and by encouraging our University community to become aware of key global, social and environmental issues that affect real people and their communities around the world. Learn more about our Fair Trade journey at UC here.

UC is proud to stand with fair trade producers and encourage ethical sourcing. To support this, we are committed to purchasing Fairtrade and World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) certified products.

Being recognised as a fair trade campus means we also have a responsibility to raise awareness about the benefits of fair trade, and engage our wider community with our Fair Trade University status. We’re so proud, and we want you to be too!

Fairtrade Fortnight 2018

Te Reo translation.jpg

This year, UC Sustainability celebrated all things Fair Trade by holding a series of events, activities, talks and presentations for our UC community to participate in. We wanted to not only show off our wonderful Fair Trade producers that we have on campus, but also to engage and educate our UC community about how important choosing fair trade products are. We hope that by learning the stories of the people behind the products you buy, that you’ll feel inspired and motivated to begin learning more about fair trade, and find your place to make change.

We hope you enjoy having a look at some of the photos we’ve included in this ‘highlights reel’. It was a busy and full on fortnight of all things fair trade and ethical, and we’d love to run an even bigger and better version of events next year.

Have an idea for a fair trade event you’d like to see on campus during next years Fairtrade Fortnight? Or a company or brand you’d like to be able to support on campus? Be in touch with us! We’d love to hear from you.

Event One: Presentation and Q&A with Trade Aid NZ

Andrea Brewster from Trade Aid’s education team came in to UC for a one hour presentation on the work Trade Aid has been doing in NZ and around the world since 1973. As New Zealand’s largest importer of fair trade and ethical products, including green coffee beans, Trade Aid has been illustrating over the last 40 years that it is possible to use business to build a better world.

Andrea shared Trade Aid’s history of successfully combining development and trade, including her own personal connections to the social enterprise. She then introduced us to the 10 principles of fair trade that Trade Aid operate under, as part of their guaranteed fair trade status with the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO). More on WFTO and their membership organisation here.


We then were introduced to their key partners from all around the world, including a few case studies of their trading partners in India and Bangladesh.

How can we get behind social enterprises like Trade Aid, and make a real difference? By supporting Trade Aid’s journey by purchasing their fairly traded products: crafts, coffee, teas, sugar, chocolate, homewares, bags… (the list goes on!) and by learning the stories behind each beautiful and hand crafted product.

andrea trade aid
Andrea introducing us to Trade Aid’s key producer partners: this case study was CORR – The Jute Works in Bangladesh

“We’re about trade, not aid” was perfectly summed up by Andrea, as she described the relationship Trade Aid has with their producers.

There is so much to discover about Trade Aid, and Andrea did a fantastic job sharing the story in just an hour! We learnt how positive, respectful and fair trade systems helps producers improve their lives, heard stories about the skilled artisans behind the products, saw how buying fair trade products changes the world for good.

Phew! Want to learn more, and see what Trade Aid has to offer? See their website and online store.




Event Two: Ethical Fashion with Little Yellow Bird


We were lucky enough to have Samantha Jones, CEO of ethical clothing and uniform company, Little Yellow Bird (LYB) come in and speak to us as part of Fairtrade Fortnight – we bet many of you didn’t realise that LYB is actually one of UC’s preferred suppliers for apparel (and Sam is UC alumni!)! See the UC news article here, on our unique relationship with LYB.

LYB uniform

LYB pride themselves on making uniforms and branded apparel that is “better for people and better for the planet.” They make wardrobe staples from rain-fed organic cotton, and are created in fair trade factories in India, before being shipped to NZ where they sell their products online. Sam spoke to the incredible producers of the apparel, the organic cotton farms (where they trace the cotton from farm to factory floor), and the final products that they bring to us (including the new lines coming soon!)

We were very lucky to have Sam along for a one-hour presentation on ethical clothing and production. During the Q&A we touched on the challenges of an ethical company coming up against fast fashion, her experiences in India, and her relationship as a UC student, and now a UC supplier!


Event Three: Fair Trade Fair, meet our suppliers!

Our biggest event of Fairtrade Fortnight this year was our Fair Trade Fair, where we invited our UC fair trade suppliers to come along and share their stories, plus give away  fair trade tastings of their products to plenty of hungry students and staff!UC 18-0264-01

We were lucky enough to have Common Good Coffee Roasters (our UCSA coffee supplier) handing out fair trade cold brew, Trade Aid showing off their crafts, teas, coffees and of course their famous chocolate tastings, Karma Cola on the fair trade cold drinks, All Good Bananas supplying free fair trade bananas to hungry students, and Office Max (our department supplier of fair trade products) doing an awesome fair trade prize pack!

karma-cola-1024x512 drink no evil
Karma Cola and their iconic slogan: Drink No Evil. With fairtrade certified sugar, vanilla and real organic cola nuts, sourced ethically from their partner in Sierra Leone – Karma Cola is the real deal!

It was an awesome event, and we hope you managed to come along and try some of the fair trade goodies on offer. We also hope that you enjoyed meeting the people and businesses who bring us the amazing fair trade products on campus, and got the chance to hear their stories, and see how they are doing business for good. As a university community, we are so proud of our fair trade suppliers and the work they do, and so it was a pleasure to have them along to this event.

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Trade Aid’s stall at our Fair Trade Fair, displaying their range of teas, coffees, chocolate, nuts and dried fruit.


UC 18-0264-02
Karma Cola handing our free tasters of their products: their original Karma Cola, and their other flavours: Ginergella and Lemmy Lemonade.

Event Four: Fair Trade Film Night – Black Gold

Black gold 2

Our final event for Fairtrade Fortnight was a cosy film night, with fair trade hot chocolate (thanks to Trade Aid) and delicious fair trade baking from our wonderful Eco Volunteer team, with bananas supplied by All Good Bananas!

We hung out on some beanbags and watched the 2006 film Black Gold (directed by Nick and Marc Francis), an eye opening documentary on the history of the coffee industry in Ethiopia – the birthplace of coffee. We followed the journey of an Ethiopian coffee farmer from the coffee plantations to London and Seattle as he fights for the 74,000 struggling coffee farmers in his coffee co-operative, Oromia Coffee Farmers Co-operative Union (OFCFU) to receive a fair price for the coffee they produce.

black gold baking
Some of the delicious fair trade baking thanks to our Eco Volunteer team!

Reviews and acclaim:

Remarkable – A moving but scandalous story. Black Gold has extraordinary power” DAILY TELEGRAPH
Poetic and hard-hitting critique of the global coffee industry… Beautifully shot and edited” WASHINGTON POST
After watching Nick and Marc Francis’ film Black Gold, you might want to add an extra shot of conscience to your cup.” LONDON EVENING STANDARD
Gorgeously-shot… Black Gold shows that improving human rights can sometimes be as simple as paying more for your morning coffee.” Film Critic

We ended the film night with a discussion about fair trade coffee, and by remembering the enormous power we have as consumers. By choosing to purchase fair trade coffee (and other commodities such as tea, chocolate and sugar) we make a huge positive impact to the lives of the farmers, growers, and their families. We learnt that since this film, OCFCU has been recognised as guaranteed fair trade with WFTO, and is one of the co-operatives that Trade Aid has partnered with to import their beans into NZ. Even better: the roaster that supplies all the UCSA cafes on campus (Common Good Coffee) uses OCFCU’s beans in their blend! A pretty amazing connection to be found… right under our nose!

Have we convinced you to check it out yet? Watch the trailer here. The good news – you can get the DVD out from UC’s central library!

Learn more about the OCFCU and their story here.

We had a fantastic fortnight celebrating all things fair trade and ethical on campus, and we can’t wait to do it again next year! Thanks to our fair trade supporters, sponsors, suppliers, our wonderful volunteers, and all of those who came along to our Fairtrade Fortnight events on campus.




Students take on Plastic Free July!

Hey guys! George, Juliet and Poppy here! As part of Plastic Free July, we have been working with UC Sustainability to share with you guys how we have been cutting down on our single use plastics, both on and off campus. You might have seen Poppy’s takeover on the UC Sustainability Instagram (@ucsustain, check it out!), but if you missed it, here’s all the info on what we have been up to this month.


Plastic Free July - Say No to Single Use Plastic 300ppi

The top four single use plastics are plastic bags, cups (coffee cups), plastic straws and plastic cutlery. There has been some progress around uni in terms of providing alternatives for single use plastics which we think is rad, but there is also a lot you can do to help! This can be as simple as buying a bamboo toothbrush (super hip and not expensive – literally $5), bringing your own coffee cup and lunch container to uni, dining in at restaurants/cafes or bringing your own reusable bags to the supermarket.

We have taken it to the next step, by heading out around Christchurch on our bikes in search of a few more ways to reduce the use of single use plastics and save some pennies at the same time! We hope these are of some help to you!


 Our favourite locations for bulk food and household items:

Bin Inn – Stanmore Road, also Lincoln Road and Hawke Street (New Brighton).

What we loved:

  • How strongly they encourage you to bring your own container/jar to reduce costs and eliminate packaging (you’ll never throw away another jam jar again!)
  • Every type of bulk foods imaginable i.e. oats, nuts, couscous, rice, pasta, muesli, spices, lentils (pictured here)
  • Even liquids such as oils, honey, molasses, vinegar… on tap!
  • General household items i.e. dishwashing liquid, spray and wipe, laundry powder and dish wash powder (just BYO bottles, and/or tip the liquids into old spray bottles when you’re home)
  • Friendly service – the Bin Inn in New Brighton has a ‘Jar Library’ to help you out if you forget to bring enough jars/containers.
  • Serious money saver!! Bulk items are always so much cheaper than pre-packaged supermarket alternatives, plus you also get an extra 5% off if you BYO containers.
  • See all of Bin Inn’s products here
  • Or, See Bin Inn’s videos for handy tips on bulk shopping!        Our favourite thing about Bin Inn was making our own peanut butter! We reckon it is cheaper than Pic’s. The little jar in the picture was about $2 of peanut butter. Recognise this from the Instagram takeover? We hope this helps you never spend $$$ on peanut butter again!

Piko Wholefoods – Corner of Barbadoes Street and Kilmore Street

What we loved:

  • The range of certified organic bulk foods available i.e. rice, lentils and oats – a huge range of gluten free options too
  • Also yummy tea, coffee, breads etc.
  • They are big supporters of Fair Trade products – LOTS of fair trade tea, coffee, sugar, nuts, spices, cold drinks, cocoa and chocolate options! YAY!
  • It’s encouraged to bring your own container/jar for your bulk goods (or they often have spare containers there for you to use!)
  • A wide variety of ingredients/items either wrapped in paper or in packaging that looks like plastic BUT can be composted in your home compost bin!
  • A little more pricey, but a great place to visit every now and again for your specialty goods, or yummy treats. Imagine a bit more of an upmarket Bin Inn. Although the maple syrup (buy it on tap) was the cheapest we’ve seen anywhere! Yum!
  • Nice vibe and super friendly people. They also run yoga workshops and classes in the upstairs space!


We hope this helps anyone out there who is thinking about going a little more plastic free (and for those already doing it! Go you!). All these little changes do make a huge difference, plus they are fun, and give you a sense of satisfaction, to know that you are doing something positive for the planet and your pennies!

Huge thanks to Poppy, Juliet and George for their Plastic Free July inspiration! We think the tip about the peanut butter rocks, what was your favourite? #plasticfreejuly



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Our coffee on campus: for the common good

We're changing for good image

Some of you may have noticed the UCSA cafes seems to have switched coffee suppliers. Out with Jailbreaker Roastery, and in with Common Good Coffee Roasters. But what you may not have realised… is it is still the same supplier, just rebranded! (which explains why it still tastes so delicious…)

Change is good. Same coffee, same people, new name, bigger story!

So why do we love Common Good Coffee so much?

  • It’s Fair Trade certified (and as a Fair Trade accredited university, we would drink no less)
  • It’s organic (no nasties)
  • Its delicious (obviously)
  • Its roasted locally (just down the road at Addington Coffee Co-op in fact)
  • Plus, we know exactly where the beans come from (the Ethiopian Sidamo bean in there comes from Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union, with premiums from coffee exports returned directly to farmers, and also used to fund initiatives such as food security and organic farming programs)
  • And finally, all Common Good’s profits are reinvested back into communities around the world (ok.. tell us more)


Common Good Coffee Roasters is part of a bigger picture. MUCH bigger in fact. They are part of a wider business called Common Good, which acts as a vehicle to give consumers, producers and their communities the ability to make the changes in their lives that they wanted to see.

They began this journey 10 years ago, under the familiar names of Jailbreaker Coffee Roastery, Liminal Apparel, and Addington Coffee Co-op, roasting and making the delicious coffee you drink on campus, and also providing ethically made tee-shirts and bags. Over 1 million coffees, untold tons of coffee beans, and thousands of ethical tee’s and bags later, they were ready for the next step. Part of the business is now shifted and based in Kolkata, India, where the team behind your daily coffee has been creating jobs and employment for women in their communities, through their apparel and wristband business, now called Common Good Apparel.

Excited? Inspired? Still have questions? Check out their website, to see and learn more about how they are doing business for good. Or: follow them on Facebook and Instagram on @commongoodcoffeenz

So. It’s more than just your cup of morning coffee, but at the same time.. it’s all about that cup of morning coffee. We are all part of a journey to make good a little more common. And we are proud to have them here at UC!

Catch Common Good at this year’s Fair Trade Fortnight! From the 3rd – 16th August, UC Sustainability is holding talks, movie screenings, and a Fair Trade Fair at UC. Keep your eyes out on our Facebook page for more info.



Plastic Free July is almost here!

Only a few more sleeps until Plastic Free July – what have you got planned?

A group of UC students are so passionate about reducing plastic waste that they are taking on the Plastic Free July challenge!


Plastic Free July is a worldwide charitable foundation that aims to raise awareness of the problems, dangers and amount of single-use disposable plastic in our lives, as well as challenges people to do something about it. Over 200 countries around the world participate in the challenge, and we are one of them!

If you aren’t already trying to minimise single use plastics in your life, this Plastic Free July is a great place to start! You can do the challenge for a day, a week or the whole month. You can try to refuse all single-use plastic or try ‘just’ the top 4: plastic bags, water bottles, takeaway coffee cups and straws. Check out their webpage for resources, information and motivation!


So, what are we doing about raising awareness at UC? The Sustainability Office has nine wonderful volunteers who are going to be sharing some of their experiences and challenges during their take on Plastic Free July! Poppy, Juliet and George are planning on exploring Christchurch and letting us know their favourite spots for zero waste grocery shopping and other essentials. They also promise there will be lots of coffee involved (in reusable cups of course), so prepare for some café chat too!

PFJ bottles

Emily and Helena are also doing some blogging, and their focus is BYO reusable cups and containers. In what looks to be a eating and drinking crawl of Christchurch, Emily and Helena will be checking out where you can take your own containers for takeaway food and drinks, and letting us in on the best spots in the city.

Finally: Jess, Jessica, Varvara and Helena are holding a DIY Zero Waste Essentials Workshop on Tuesday 24th July, from 12pm – 2pm in Undercroft 101. They’ll be showing off their sewing and DIY skills, and teaching you how to make your own produce bags, beeswax wraps (gladwrap is out!) and even face and body scrubs (and you get to take it all home!).

Keep your eyes on our Facebook page for all the event information, and tips and tricks from our volunteers on going plastic free for the month (or, longer!).


Are you keen to take on the Plastic Free July challenge too? You don’t have to go all out! You can choose to do it for a day, week or the whole month and you can either refuse ALL single-use plastic or the TOP 4: plastic bags, water bottles, takeaway coffee cups and straws. Have a look on the website for ideas on how to get started (and no, you don’t need to sign up)!

If you’re interested in being involved in sharing your experiences during Plastic Free July, please contact the UC Sustainability Office, they would love to hear from you!

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