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COP26: Taking small, practical steps to protect our planet

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I work in the pre-assessment team in Darlington where we receive student finance applications and supporting evidence from applicants at the beginning of their journey into further and higher education.

When I started at SLC, back in 2010, I noticed that we were throwing away a lot of plastic wallets which customers sent to us containing their documents. I’ve always been passionate about recycling and keeping things out of landfill, so I made a case to our facilities team about doing things a bit differently. SLC was really supportive, and I started a 10-year long project of sorting all the wallets we received into those we could reuse and those we could recycle. We have since donated 73 kilos of pristine plastic wallets to, among others, Darlington College and to our community hospice: reducing our impact on the environment and saving some money for these local organisations too.

My colleagues in Darlington know all about my passion for reducing waste. I do not support mass-produced Christmas decorations which leave a big carbon footprint and fill up landfill sites. Around Christmas time I collect all Quality Street wrappers from colleagues and create my own window decorations. I’ve also taught a few teammates how to knit and crochet – simple skills that can help reduce the amount of energy and resources we consume when we buy new goods. Making things from scratch, no matter how small or imperfect can help boost our mental health too – something we’ve all become more mindful of during the covid-19 pandemic.

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SLC has got behind my efforts to make a difference, and for me, that makes SLC a better place to work. In future, I intend to use one of our paid volunteer days* to pick up glass by the seaside, or to do a litter pick with colleagues along the river Skerne in Darlington.

I’m personally optimistic about COP26. I would like everyone to feel empowered to make a difference at home, in the community or in the workplace – just as I have.

*At SLC, colleagues can apply to volunteer for up to one day each year to support the local community and SLC will pay their standard pay for this time spent volunteering.

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