July 20, 2020, by sustainablenottingham

A Year of 12 Years

Sarah Bertram is Head of Daytime Programming at the award winning University Radio Nottingham (URN). A recent addition to Sarah’s portfolio is her show: 12 Years to Save the Planet, for which she received a Student Achievement award at the SU Sustainability Awards. She reflects on the past year of recording, 12 Years to Save the Planet. 

In my third year of University I started a speech show on our very own student radio, University Radio Nottingham (URN), focusing on approaches to sustainability called 12 Years to Save the Planet, or 12 Years for short. I chose this name as this was the amount of time scientists claimed that we had left to make an impactful change before the effects of climate change and global warming were irreversible. 12 Years featured debates and interviews with the SU sustainability officer, Lee Taylor, other student members and leaders of the Sustainability, Fair-Trade, Foodprint and Left societies to name a few, as well as students entirely unaffiliated with anything eco-focused. A variety of issues such as: veganism, waste and how to have a more sustainable Christmas were considered on air and importantly, discussions were always brought back to facilities and societies available on campus and in Nottingham.


The show won a Student Achievement award for bringing the discussion of sustainability to a new area of student life and for raising our audience’s awareness about local things that they could directly engage with. It was important for me that students knew how easy it was to lead a slightly more sustainable life on a daily basis, having watched many people, for example, put the recyclable waste from their meal deals in the rubbish bin when recycling facilities were just outside the door. One thing we largely always came back to on the show was that, with regard to most issues, it is the large corporations who need to be driving the change and making sustainable choices, however, I wanted this show to make people begin to think about how their individual choices could, even on a small scale, begin to reduce their impact, because I believe that change is made through everybody doing something as opposed to a few doing everything.


Despite creating the show as a way to bring the issue of sustainability to the attention of those less sustainably focused, I learned a lot myself throughout the year. While I like to think that I am an eco-conscious person, through my interviews with the sustainability society and Lee, I was educated outside of the mainstream ideas of the movement towards a greener planet. I learned about societies who run incredible projects; I learned about Terracycle who have transformed recycling and waste disposal; and most significantly perhaps, I learned that some of the approaches that we think are helpful, and that the mainstream tells us are beneficial, have negative side effects that reduce their positive impact, and that in fact an entirely different approach to certain issues is sometimes less widely known about but far more effective.


12 Years Corona Virus Special: An Unprecedented Environmental Opportunity. I spoke to students about the positive and negative implications of the Corona Virus on the planet and what they had noticed in their respective areas of the country. Interestingly, some opinions were noticeably similar, for instance the considerable reclaiming of nature in both the cities and the countryside, but some opinions were markedly divided, for instance, the topic of how much of an effect working from home will have in the long run when considering travel provoked rather different responses. I also spoke to Dr. John Atherton: Pro Vice Chancellor, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and Professor of Gastroenterology to get a knowledgeable opinion with direct links to the University, for example he elaborated on how working from home was conserving considerable energy where lecture halls and buildings were not being heated and thousands of students weren’t charging their laptops in the libraries each day.


Overall, running this podcast was a very interesting exploration into sustainability, both in the world and in Nottingham, and the ever-growing movement towards a greener planet. Not everyone agreed with the approaches that we are taking, and not everyone agreed that certain issues were as important as others thought they were, however everyone agreed that something needed to be done and by having an open discourse about it we were at least keeping sustainability on the agenda. If you would like to listen, the episodes are all online on URN’s Audioboom and the link to the Corona Virus Special specifically is here: https://audioboom.com/posts/7612553-12-years-to-save-the-planet-the-corona-virus-special-an-unprecedented-environmental-opportunity




Posted in EnvironmentStudentsStudents' Unionsustainability