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Franklin College and the Climate Crisis


In this article, three student reporters explore the climate crisis and how Franklin is playing its part to make a difference. 


In the age of the climate crisis, one dilemma that we must confront is the approach we take to tackle it; to be radical or play by the rules, to defy or compromise, to polarise or conform? 

Our sustainability club asks these same questions, answering ‘any action is worth taking’.

In an effort to encourage reduced plastic use on site, their initiative aims to install three new water fountains throughout Franklin, including replacing the existing water dispenser located near the Buzz.

Though seemingly small, this initial project is working towards “raising awareness of sustainability issues, and helping people at Franklin be more sustainable in their everyday lives”; climate change being an often overwhelming topic to tackle, combatting single use plastic bottles is a really accessible start-saving you money in the process.

The proposed new water dispensers would be located in the Buzz and outside of the college shop, but the question remains whether the D Block or the Art Block would be more effective locations for the third instalment.

Another part of this project involves the promotion and expansion of existing incentives to reduce single use waste: very few staff and students are aware, but in Costa, if you bring a reusable cup, you receive 20p off of your drink. There are also talks of introducing college branded reusable cups sold at an affordable price to further promote use of the water refilling facilities, should the budget allow it.

Now, where is this funding coming from? One potential source includes Anglian Water, which in of itself poses its own questions as to the ethics of involving the company that had a myriad of fines under its belt for leakages and polluting rivers and streams with sewage, including a £300,000 charge that was issues in June of this year for affecting 10km of the River Wid in Essex, killing around 5,000 fish.

It is possible that there are ulterior motives at play from Anglian’s perspective, and its investment could make us complicit in greenwashing, by providing this company with a long history of leaking sewage into our water, with an opportunity to distract from their past.

Is it okay, then, to accept help from this flawed company for our own gain? Is it all a PR stunt that this company would even be involved in, an attempt to invest in climate solutions to save face? Do intentions even matter if the impact is undoubtedly positive?

It isn’t up to anyone to make that decision for you.

Another pertinent aspect of climate change is the lack of biodiversity, which Franklin’s rewilding programme aims to combat by planting trees in the field behind college, and by planting wildflowers. This will gradually introduce a range of plants that will hopefully attract more pollinators, and nurture, even on a smaller scale, a bustling community of different species.

An investment not only in the college but also in the local area, we’re working for a brighter future, it starts here; the small actions can have the greatest impact.

Protests against the usage of single-use plastic cutlery and the storage of our college meals in Styrofoam boxes have taken place within the Student Union. When Styrofoam is not properly disposed of, chemicals can leak into the environment and contaminate water supplies. In addition, the manufacture of Styrofoam significantly contributes to global warming, due to its low weight and ease of crumbling, this "principle litter" can be detected in our already tainted oceans and water systems.

Thrifting Event at Franklin with Successful Turnout

According to ‘The global environmental injustice of fast fashion’ report 2019, fast fashion was at its peak in terms of destroying our environment. The constant unnecessary use of online shopping, throwing clothing items away at any first sighted locations including beaches etc., caused statistics to run high and encouraged more of the UK population to follow.

During 2019, the users of the current social and economic phenomenon increased in statistics drastically, however as of 2022 only 55% of the UK population continue to support the growth of fast fashion. Although this seems particularly high, from the previous statistics which were released, we have ourselves a winner. The reason for this outcome is the alternative options such as ‘thrifting’ which have become trendy and fashionable over the past months. Trends as such can be highly influential until they are thrown away and replaced with something more iconic.

Fortunately, thrifting has become the latest fashion and has continued to stay in first place for several months now and does not appear to be coming to an end. The real question is…. How long does our planet have left?

Franklin held a thrifting store located in the social courtyard where several weekly social events are held including the LGBTQ+ community club, enrichment, occasional food gatherings etc. The successful event was hosted by the thrifting club alongside Franklin staff. This event has an engaging turnout as of the range of items which were up for sale and the advertising which was shared through daily notices.

The event lasted from 9:00 - 4:00, allowing all students the opportunity to have a walk around and purchase and support the club. It came about by 3 Franklin staff members, Darcie Harding, Charlotte Morris, and Natasha Broadbent, who brought up the topic of sustainability in a staff meeting.

The inspiration behind the store was all from staff members and students who had said it would be impactful to promote sustainability by offering pre-loved, affordable clothing for their students. These clothing items have been sourced via donations of good quality pieces, “items you may lend to your best mate” by the Franklin students and some of the staff. For the people who donated some of their loved clothing, there is a reward system for the shop, for every 5 items that have been donated you receive a thrift credit which you are able to spend in the thrift store (the more items donated, the more credit earned).

The thrift store “provides positive opportunities towards the environment and makes sure things don’t go to waste”. Another positive opportunity this provides is that all the store's profits go to a student chosen charity. Students get to pick a variety of charities and each time a thrift event is held, people will be able to put counters in boxes that say the different charities and the one with the most counters is where the profits will be donated. In addition, a local company called Maranta donated various furniture and accessories to the college in order for them to be sold at the event.

Since the rise in issues such as global warming, and the negative impact fashion has on the environment and its carbon footprint, this new event Franklin has put on is having a very positive impact on creating awareness on these issues. With the increase in online thrifting apps such as vinted and depop, and massive fast fashion brands such as Pretty Little Thing creating a marketplace for pre-loved, sustainable clothing pieces, it shows people everywhere that you can still be fashionable and find the clothes you love while also being sustainable and helping the environment.

By Amelia Rawcliffe, Nesilah Maeroof, Jess Allan, Kiki Ramsden