Fairtrade Fortnight 2018

Student Experiences in sustainability

Are you passionate about the environment?

Without the dedication of students, a lot of our projects could not have been a success. Below are a few blogs written by former students who have worked within our team; both on paid roles and volunteering on projects. Like what you read? Then come be a part of our team!

Each year there are paid and voluntary opportunities to work with us. These areas could be centered around recycling, food and Fairtrade, communications and engagement and the natural environment. You can volunteer with us at anytimedownload this PDF with more information and complete and return this form.

Mark Rufus – 2017 Graduate & Sustainability Intern

“I graduated with a degree in Education (PGCE). It was exciting and challenging, but I decided that I wanted to use the skills learnt for an alternative career.

I didn’t have a clear understanding about what sustainability entailed, but I decided to apply for an internship (Graduate Trainee Project Officer) in the Sustainability Team to gain more experience in project management. I was about to find out how broad this area can be.

My project was working on implementing an internal furniture reuse scheme. It may sound boring, but reusing furniture saves money, reduces waste and emits fewer carbon emissions. Working with the campus teams, I looked to Warp it, an online platform that gives organizations a place to redistribute surplus items. Writing a business case and engaging with stakeholders, I learnt how important sustainability is and how it can benefit organisations like a university.

This internship gave me the opportunities to develop old and new skills that will equip me for my future career.”

Adissa Savane – 2017 Graduate & Sustainability Events Intern

“I graduated in Human Resource Management. I didn’t have much knowledge on the subject of Sustainability when I was offered this internship. All I knew was that it covered many aspects related to the environment and nature. This role gave me transferable knowledge and an understanding of what project management entails.

My role lasted three months, and it focussed on delivering the annual Ethical & Fairtrade Fortnight campaign.  This was a key campaign to help with the University Fairtrade awards.

I was working with key partners to manage, organise and coordinate the Fairtrade Fortnight across all three campuses in order to educate people and make them aware of what to eat, drink and even wear. Seeing the scale of this event for the university, it was stressful stuff but I believe I will achieve something positive for my future career.”

Jade Burnett – 2016 Graduate & Sustainability Intern

“As a shiny new graduate of Greenwich, I was really excited to be involved and have a positive impact on the curriculum. During my time I was working with academics, programme leaders and students to design a sustainable framework that will be tailored to the needs of the University.  I am enthusiastic about showing educators the increasing student (and employer) demand to integrate sustainability into the curriculum and communicate the significance of sustainability to their disciplines.

When I first accepted the role, I lazily misjudged sustainability as an unapproachable term concerning the environment, and the prospect of engaging with it professionally was very daunting. I realise now that sustainability encompasses so much more; it is about balancing human and economic well-being with respect for the Earth’s natural resources.

I find myself now looking at the products I am buying, asking where my food is coming from, how ethical the company is and just how much am I wasting? I have learnt the impact of my individual consumer status, but the most significant shift is the realisation that I don’t have to be perfect. I have now learnt that regardless of how small, every behavioural change that I make is valuable and this is something that I am keen to communicate. So ask yourself questions and critique your choices- you play a valuable role in creating a sustainable future.”

Jazmine Linklater – 2016 Graduate & Sustainability Events Intern

“After graduating from my Creative Writing degree, I never anticipated becoming a Trainee Sustainable Futures Research officer. Interestingly, it turns out it’s something I’ve been banging on about for a long time; to my friends, my family, anyone who provokes a debate… Why do you use plastic? Did you know about the impact of farming on carbon emissions? Are you certain that the makeup you’re using doesn’t test on animals? Have you ever looked up the laws around what ‘free range’ can mean?

So, yeah, I’d been talking and worrying about sustainability for quite a long time – I just didn’t realise the heading it fell under. Being offered this internship was much more than an opportunity to learn; it was an opportunity to exercise some influence.

Within the first few days I learnt about some crazy stuff the uni’s already done towards being green – that I had no idea about. These are things we should be shouting about! In the same week I also learnt to prune apple and pear trees in our community garden at Avery Hill, which, if you haven’t visited yet you absolutely must.

I’m super excited for the Fairtrade Fortnight Campaign. A little nervous about organising events on such a big scale across all three campuses, but the cause is one I believe in wholeheartedly, so I’m certain it is going to fun!”

Ellen McKee – 2016 Project Volunteer

“During my time working with the Sustainability Team I have been surprised at the sheer scope of what sustainability entails. One hour I could be writing a report on water use and the next be rifling through a trolley for anything left over from the Student Reuse Project!

What I’ve come to realize on this placement is that it can be easy to stick our heads in the sand when sustainability is bought up. It is a term that can engulf all areas of life and therefore can seem quite daunting. However because of this very nature, it is so EASY to get involved with!

Another of my roles was to engage students in the Student Switch Off campaign. The issues addressed by these projects  affect us all therefore it is vital that everyone gets involved from students and lecturers to the wider community. As for me, I will be finishing my degree over the next year and looking for a job! I know that whatever job I go into I can incorporate sustainability and bring something new and exciting to the table.”

Ramone Pennie – 2014 Graduate & Sustainability Events Intern

“I graduated in 2014 and was an intern with the Sustainability Team for 3 months. I have learnt that pushing forward an idea is like a presidential campaign.  It’s not easy. To get a message across is one thing but to make sure that that message remains in the minds of your intended audience is another. My time here has definitely helped me to be a lot more confident in my conviction and staying true in what I believe in; just because you may be part of the few does not mean its incorrect.

Sustainability is an issue that isn’t getting enough traction and seeing the efforts to make it a topic to talk about and address is inspiring. My colleagues have shown me another part of the university which I never knew about but wish I had.

It has definitely helped with my knowledge (and lack of knowledge) on sustainable issues and how it can have a strong impact both in and outside the university. Today I can say not only am I part of an awesome and unique team, but all the skills learn will be valuable in the future.

No two projects are the same which makes working all the more interesting. It is a challenge at times; researching, organizing and planning for events, but taking the risk and putting the effort in makes all the difference. I must admit it puts a smile on my face knowing that I am part of a team that is trying to push forward this mentality.”

Jamal Pennie – 2014 Graduate & Sustainability Intern

“All good things must come to an end. I graduated last year in Building Surveying and the lessons learned from this internship are invaluable.  This past week I have been working alongside my team to push forward the Sustainable food fortnight events.

I had a preconceived notion of what it takes to run an event and how to communicate ideas. I was surprised on just how epically wrong I actually was. I learned that just because you feel so passionately about something, it does not necessarily translate to anyone really caring at all. From my tiny life experience change is mostly difficult, so it is understandable that it is a slow process for some of these values being accepted.

There are a number of ways to reach out to students and making sure marketing was on point is crucial. Some people just wanted a free flap jacks and a chat (yes there was free flapjacks) while some wanted vigorous debate on issue surrounding issues.

I have had an interest in sustainability for some time now, but that was from the outside looking in. I feel proud that I have had an impact however small to the sustainable awareness within the university. I have learned how far sustainability stretches and how many different types of communication can be applied. This is one of the best experiences of work you can get. It’s that blend of responsibilities which makes the internship such a brilliant opportunity. I will definitely take the principles and approaches learned and apply them into a career in the construction/property industry which is in need of it.”

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University of Greenwich Sustainability Blog