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Sustainability

Many students within the University of Sussex are concerned about ethical and environmental issues; whether it be decolonisation, energy usage, biodiversity, or fair labour conditions in their supply chain.

Do you have an idea for planning, running and leading a project, initiative or campaign on environmental sustainability? Or maybe you would just like to be involved? The Students’ Union are always keen to hear from students so that we can support you to drive positive change.

Join with like-minded students on Facebook in the "green community on campus".

Go Green Week is a week dedicated to events centered around sustainability in February. We have previously had cycle-powered karoke, paperless bingo, eco-crafternoon, clothes swaps and more! Funding and support is available for you to put on events, fundraisers, get guest speakers in and more. Get in touch with events@sussexstudent.com for more information.

Please see here for local volunteering opportunities.

Green Impact

Each year we take part in the NUS Green Impact scheme in order to help monitor and reduce our negative and increase our positive environmental impact. The Green Impact ‘workbook’ provides Students’ Union’s with a set of criteria to work towards. It helps us to ensure our operations are maintained and improved, environmental sustainability is embedded in the Union’s ethos and helps to engage and bring together students and staff to collaborate on bringing about a sustainable future. For 2018/2019, we once again achieved the highest accrediation of 'Excellent' in the scheme.

This included sccoring well above average across several criteria, including our Campaigning & Influencing section and our Outcomes section. The main campaign we reported on this year was Decolonise Sussex, who did some amazing work and highlighted the ways in which climate change can be thought of as a racial justice issue. For our Outcomes section, we repoted on the positive outcomes our work on sustainability has had for students, the students' union, the university, environment, and local community. This included calculations of the carbon we have saved through things like our no fly policy, work on coffee cup and plastic reduction, and more. 

Highlights include:

- lobbying the University to split up the Health, Safety and Environmet Committee to provide a dedicated Sustainability Committee. This has been started, and is chaired by the Vice-Chancellor. We are planning on starting a student sustainability committee, which will feed suggestions to take to the University Committee by Ijlal, your Society & Citizenship Officer.

- our no fly policy saving 30,596 KgCO2e across three sports trips which took coaches and trains over flying

- the bars committing to no single use plastics through Freshers' Week, and signing up to trial a reusable cup scheme

- implementing a 30p coffee cup charge, following which the Union Shop's output of single use cups reduced by 40% in March compared to October

- saving 180 crates of items from going to waste by keeping them for the Freshers' Free Shop; 20+ crates of food and sanitary products were donated to charity
 

Student-led campaigns

Current student-led campaigns fighting for a more sustainable planet, and a more sustainable society for all:

Sweatshop Free Sussex - campaigning to get the University to sign up to Electronics Watch & ensure responsible labour conditions in their electronics supply chain.
Ecosia on Campus - campaigning nationwide to persuade Universities to use Ecosia as their default search engines & plant trees with every search. The group expanded their campaign after successfully lobbying Sussex University to switch to Ecosia. 
Decolonise Sussex - campaigning to decolonise the curriculum and fight for a University that recognizes all knowledge as equally valid, and empower students to be leaders in driving change.
Access Sussex - Campaigning to enable all students to access the University of Sussex campus by ensuring that students with disabilities (visible or invisible) do not face discrimination and raising awareness amongst all students and staff about disabilities and the issues and access requirements students face in their everyday life at Sussex.

Research

The findings of the 2018 NUS sustainability skills survey show:

How important when choosing which University to apply to is;
How seriously the University takes environmental issues: 21% said very important, 29% said somewhat important
How seriously the University takes global development issues: 28% very important, 29% somewhat important

How important is it to you individually that you learn the following skills, attributes and knowledge during your time at University:
Understanding how human activity is affecting nature
39% very important
41% fairly important

Using resources efficiently to limit the impact on the environment and other people 
39% very important
44% fairly important

Considering ethical issues linked to your subject
54% very important
33% fairly important
 

For the full report, including what ways students think are best to incorporate learning about the environment in their course, please see here.

Some environmental intiatives, projects and campaigns by the Students' Union 

  • We have passed a plastic-free policy and have acknowledged the climate emergency as a concern of students, due to referenda

  • Our bars have banned plastic straws, recycle where possible, re-claimed furniture and have reduced plate food wasteage since the introdcution of the 'build-your-own' menu

  • We have implemented a 30p charge for single-use coffee cups, to encourage people to bring in a reusable mug. We stock ecoffee bamboo mugs in the Union Shop

  • We have increased our range of plastic-free items in the Union Shop, such as shampoo bars, "Aquapax" water in cartons, bamboo toothbrushes and plastic-free tampons and sanitary towels

  • None of our outlets sell Nestle products due to student referenda 

  • There is a great selection of sustainability and community action focused groups to get involved with, visit our clubs and societies page

  • Our outlets have increased vegetarian and vegan options

  • We have water fountains and coolers around Falmer House to reduce the use of plastic bottles

  • All new staff at the Students' Union recieve an environmental induction

  • We have a no plastic bag policy at Freshers Fair and provide large recycling bins 

  • Our Events team consider their environmental impact when planning events and we encourage students to do the same

  • Students groups and staff can hire out items such as whiteboards, cups and a projector to avoid using disposable items