LLB (Hons) Law student Kate has always tried to lead a sustainable life and, when she came to ARU, found that her concerns were shared across the University community.
My family and I have always kept track of our water usage, mended clothes, used natural solutions for cleaning, renewed, re-designed and fixed things. We were never poor – we just grew up overseeing beautiful landscapes and knew that we had a role to play in ensuring that these remain intact for future generations.
Outside the window, we saw beautiful fields – not landfills for millions of uniform T-shirts 'fashionable' for an hour; we saw rivers – not easy ways to throw refuse; and forests – not places for logging. Not knowing the technical definition of sustainability, we just didn’t want to behave recklessly, and thought of the consequences for our nature.
With time, I realised that not everyone thinks the same. I also realised that it is my and my peers’ responsibility to educate and spread awareness, to protect our only place of habitat, and empower others – kids, young adults, adults and elderly – to lead a more sustainable life.
When I came to ARU, I felt that my concerns were shared by many more people than I thought, and at a much higher level. I was so proud of my university, actively moving away from plastic cutlery, uploading our lecture notes online instead of printing (thousands of pages every trimester!), and using digital screens, online portals and social media to share information.
As the President of the ARU Law Society, I was proud to lead one of the 'green societies', continuing the paperless campaign. We only produced digital meeting minutes, never printed posters and communicated our updates and information digitally with the help of various ARU departments. Collaborating with other societies, I always advocated for paperless advertising. At the end of the day, everyone has a smartphone or a laptop, an email and at least one social media account – so let’s save the forests and stop printing posters! By taking our sustainability strategy forward and informing our members about the benefits of it, I really enhanced my pitching, persuasion, teamwork and digital skills, and learnt so much about social media marketing.
At ARU, I project managed the ARU’s first Sustainable Fashion Week 2020. Under the supervision of amazing Victoria Tait, GSI Education for Sustainability Lead at the time, I created a versatile programme of events covering sustainability and corporate social responsibility, sustainable practices in fashion, and new ways to feel good about yourself without buying endlessly. SFW was a huge success, attracting 400 registrations, and educated ARU and the wider community of sustainability and sustainable fashion. Our SFW supported ARU's wider Sustainability Strategy and inspired other sustainability-orientated events.
As part of SFW, I coordinated a project interviewing ARU staff and external organisations about sustainability. These interviews, including those with Nu Wardrobe and British Heart Foundation, covered various aspects of sustainability and helped educate the public on how to make conscious changes to their lifestyle. I also engaged the ARU Students' Union Vice Presidents and President in sharing sustainability facts and tips, boosting students’ engagement with the topic.
Having joined ARU as a staff member for the Faculty of Business and Law, I played a major role in developing, and am now coordinating the FBL Digital Newsletter. I was honoured to be a partner of and to support several student-led sustainability-orientated projects – including the Money Festival and ARUSS 2021. With my team, we are currently working on new ARUCPD (Anglia Ruskin University Certificate for Professional Development) modules, such as Sustainability Leadership Skills and Sustainability Reporting (titles TBC).
My engagement with sustainability helped me gain and hone, probably, 99% of my existing skills. I learnt negotiation, project and events management, interviewing, budgeting, working with and leading teams. I learnt public speaking, boosted my creativity collaborating with inspiring and passionate people, and developed a network of connections for future projects. I have learnt so much from these people, and from events I organised or attended. I want to continue learning and helping our students make a positive impact, and a conscious lifestyle change.