March 9, 2023, by Leah Sharpe
Sustainability Challenge: A Personal Reflection
By Megan Sharma-Bradley, second year Film and Television Studies student
What new knowledge have you acquired about sustainability?
I have learned about the extent that the university considers sustainability, but also has a long way to go. Key milestones such as achieving the 2010-2020 Carbon Reduction targets and 2021’s Strategic Delivery Plan are a great start. However, with research and responsible climate consideration, we can collectively do much better. Individual action and behavioural choices are small, but important elements are a much larger issue.
I have also learned about specific grassroots initiatives which the university are taking part in, which students are not often made aware of. These include the Pack for Good scheme for pre-loved item donations, trialling carbon labelling on university food menus and staff carshare schemes. I was not previously aware of the biodiversity initiatives at the university such as composting 500 tonnes of garden waste per annum; these listed examples are things that I have learnt about within the first Sustainability Challenge session during a presentation from staff members.
The problem that your concept was trying to solve
The concept that my group and I devised was ‘Combatting Food Waste at UoN’. Although food waste is not the biggest issue on campus, starting small was our approach; as food waste accounts for 5% of UoN’s carbon footprint. We wanted to have an aspect of charity in our pitch so that we could give back to both nature and humanity, as these two aspects go hand in hand when it comes to sustainability.
In terms of the details, we wanted to centralise available leftover food within a university platform for students to collect near to food outlet closing times. In addition to this, we wanted to donate leftover catered halls students’ meal card balance to the charity, Emmanuel House. We conducted a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Targets) and realised that there were many factors on this being successful, but we were open about these with the judging panel, and open to improvements.
What skills have you developed and how are they going to be useful in future?
Public speaking and teamwork are the skills that I have developed the most during the Sustainability Challenge. Working with a diverse range of people is a necessity within a future graduate career, whatever sector that may be within, and the interpersonal skills I have developed have led me to take an increased interest in sustainable initiatives.
In addition, we were given a Pitching Masterclass from Frasers Group during our second session which gave us valuable advice from professionals who have worked with sustainability projects within their careers. What ties these two skills together is communication, whether that is verbal, through discussions with your group, or presenting your ideas to a professional judging panel and other students. I have become more confident with presenting my thoughts, and this will help me with future university work, and settings within a future career.
Why would you recommend participation in future events?
I would recommend participation in future events to any student from any course because sustainability is something that we are all accountable for, both in our personal lives and our future careers. You will meet a variety of people on the challenge and it’s an opportunity to bring both personal experience from your own sustainability/climate-based actions and any degree experience into considering how the university operates within a wider context.
As I was part of the first cohort of the Sustainability Challenge, and by taking part, you will encourage the project’s growth, meaning that more can be done to improve standards of sustainability at UoN. This also provides great experience for networking, taking part in other extracurricular and SU activities, and can help aid your awareness of sustainability in your future career.
Whether you know a lot about the logistical aspects of climate change or are simply enthusiastic about doing your bit for the environment, this is an opportunity for you.
Keep an eye on the Careers and Employability Instagram for 2024 sign-up dates!
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