University of Sussex Students' Newspaper

Sustainable Sussex Fortnight Encourages Green Action

Lucy Spencer

ByLucy Spencer

May 13, 2024

From 15 – 29 April, the University’s Students’ Union, Sussex Sustainability Research Programme (SSRP), and a range of campus food spots collaborated to bring to the community Sustainable Sussex Fortnight, a two-week event with over 16 events and activities to attend. 

The University of Sussex is keen to promote sustainability, having recently implemented a biodiversity policy based on the feedback from its community. Their two key objectives focus on achieving a net gain on biodiversity and increasing the percentage of campus designated to nature to 42 percent by December 2027. The Campus Nature Walk, hosted on 29 April, was a perfect opportunity for students to observe the University’s progress. This guided tour of campus’s most biodiverse areas was also part of a worldwide citizen science event – City Nature Challenge – in which biodiversity hotspots across a multitude of schools were recorded.

The Sustainable Sussex Fortnight began with Green Futures, a careers event enabling students to build the required skills to apply for environmentally-friendly jobs. During this programme, attendees were able to hear from inspirational speakers from various green job fields, and were encouraged to take part in an interactive sustainability challenge. 

Following on from this, SSRP Fellows Dr Perpetua Kirby and Dr Rebecca Webb, both from the School of Education and Social Work, discussed the importance of education that can adapt to the sustainability challenges of the 21st century. Perpetua and Rebecca’s passion for sustainability is influential, with many MA Education students choosing to attend this event after being taught by the pair during the Autumn term. The Badger spoke to one student, Kiarra Bolade, who said, “Perpetua and Rebecca showed me that teaching can and should involve exploration, particularly of the world around us, and that all learners should be encouraged to do what they can to combat climate change.”

Also during the first week were two workshops hosted by The Veg Bowl cafe in Arts C, entitled “How to Grow Food From Waste”. These enabled students to discover how disregarded ingredients can lend themselves to a thriving garden of crops. As well as this, the cafe conducted a seminar on how to keep shop-bought herb plants alive, which proved useful as each herb variety requires different methods of care.

Arguably the most notable event of the fortnight was Pitch for the Planet on 24 April. This is an annual competition in which young social entrepreneurs propose their ideas on how to best face this generation’s key sustainability concerns. Read more about the prize on page ___.

The second half of the Sustainable Sussex Fortnight, Climate Justice Week (CJW), sought to address the interconnected crises of climate change, economic exploitation, and systemic racism. By bringing together a diverse range of voices, the University was able to prioritise justice, equity, and inclusion whilst addressing the climate crisis. Additionally, CJW aimed to inspire individuals and communities to make meaningful changes, such as reducing consumption and adopting more ethical practices.

During CJW, some students were given a  tour of Veolia’s Material Recovery Facility in Hollingdean, where over 60,000 tonnes of mixed recycling from East Sussex is collected and sorted. Veolia was awarded a 30 year waste management contract by Brighton & Hove City Council in 2003, and keen to educate people on the importance of recycling and for members of the public, including students, to observe firsthand what happens to their household waste. The members of the University in attendance, including the current Student Living and Sustainability Officer, Niamh Tickner, were given some invaluable tips on how best to recycle, including making sure all waste is clean, dry and loose (not in a separate bag) before disposal. Ensuring recycling is compacted is also important as larger objects tend not to be picked up by the trommel – a slow-rotating machine used to remove small contaminants from recycling. Finally, dispose of vapes in the recycling station outside Falmer House, as many contain batteries which can cause the machinery to malfunction.

The fortnight marked the end of the academic year for many students, and hopefully provided learners with the determination to enjoy a sustainable summer!

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