On 9th October, a few from our team ventured out to the Eden Project in Cornwall for the European launch of Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS).
Sir Tim Smit Eden Project creator opened the event and Jonathan Porritt both gave inspirational and rousing talks, it was such a blessing to hear passionate words of wisdom from such renowned environmentalists. They encouraged us to make our voices heard and it was satisfying to see so many faces in the room eager to change their university as well as the world. They reminded us that we have this knowledge of sustainability to apply to everything we do in the future, whether it is going to your next job, you can make more minds aware of issues surrounding this theme. Some memorable quotes were as follows;
There is no reason for a university to not meet the target of 100% renewable energy. It’s the first step we need to take.
The only way to see the world, is to see it in a visual way…
The Eden Project has so much to offer and I wished I’d more time to exlore
This beauty is called The WEEE Man and he weighs a whopping 3.3-tonnes, he is there to portray the actual amount of electrical waste the average British house chucks out in a lifetime. He was so tall and it was shocking to see how much stuff was on there, this goes hand in hand to what was said about seeing the world in a visual way, as it has more of an impact.
We then had a look at the WHOLE EARTH display, which is in the background of the above picture, again it was very powerful with images capturing so many words and stories. After that, we headed back up to where we had the talks and made our way to our chosen workshop.
Exploring the role of students as activists for wider social change.
The workshop was lead by REFDD (French Student Network for Sustainable Development, in French Réseau Français des Etudiants pour le Développement Durable) with Joan Whalley MP and house of commons environmental audit select committee 2010–2015 chair. They encouraged us to stand up and be noisy if you want change to happen.
Make sustainability sexy. Came the cry from the floor….
Three words. Three important words. It is so true, I had to add on to that point. I asked the host if I could expand upon that point, as that is my specialty, incorporating a bit of spice into sustainability. I explained to the packed room how crucial it is to make things sexy (or appealing as I put it). I told them how I was a Publishing Assistant on this digital magazine focusing on sustainability. When we create content for the student audience, we aim to make it quirky and fun because we’ve seen through the statistics this what students are watching/sharing. It’s a way of getting the message out, creatively entwined within.
To my surprise over a lovely vegan dinner, lots of people asked about the site and our strategy for engagement. Lots of people said they never really thought about doing that and many thanked me on inspiring them to go back to the university and do similar things. After dinner we visited the Biomes at night what a treat.
Networking was so fun with people there because I spoke to lots of students from different backgrounds and universities around the UK, meeting a lot of like-minded students who also had similar interests and personalities as me. The experience definitely gave me an insight into business networking and I discovered I had a new skill in this area of talking to new people about the digital magazine learning what others do. We were, however, definitely in a different atmosphere, as we walked inside the biodomes at night to see the beautiful plants from around the world. There was an art exhibition of sustainability created by students ranging from photographs to soundtracks. Darkness gave it a much more magical vibe, there was live music playing, adding to the experience.
This is just the beginning, I hope to go on to a few more conferences to build more connections, to inspire more universities and learn more ways of campaigning for sustainability here at our university and city.