Writing: Kirsty Thomson
Illustration: Abigail Sarah Featherstone (Artbyabbx)
We are living in a society which is becoming more and more environmentally aware. Whether it be current trends like sustainable, trash-free living or the emergence of DIY cosmetics, we are discovering new small ways that we as individuals can help to make things that little bit better for the environment. For the avid green thumbed folk out there however, it can feel disappointing sometimes that we can’t make a difference on a grander scale. While eradicating plastic from my weekly shop feels great, I often worry about how big a change I really am making. Thus brings me to this list: 6 big AND small ways you can be an advocate for environment as a student in Edinburgh.
1. Sign up to the Social Responsibility and Sustainability Newsletter put out by Edinburgh University. You will get updates on what is being done to help the environment at Uni and you’ll be the first to hear about upcoming events. Whether it be by going to the Potterrow Market (which next will be held on November 21st!) or by joining the GESA Reading Group to discuss current issues like Fracking, the newsletter is a great way to kickstart your sustainability and environmental awareness adventure.
2. Look into joining a local activist group. A particularly good one in Edinburgh is the ‘Edinburgh Sustainability Meetup’. With over 1000 members, they organise a whole variety of different events and workshops where you can learn more about being environmentally aware in Edinburgh. While they have more casual things like upcycling groups and community gardening, they have also established the Permaculture Community Classroom, which is a group that meets up every two weeks at the Edinburgh and Lothians Regional Equality Council. What is great about these groups is you can be as hard-core as you please. If you prefer to live sustainably in a more quiet way, you can. If you want to be active in the debate, you can do that too.
3. Get involved with the Edinburgh branch of the Scottish Green Party. Anyone can join, and they offer various things which you can get stuck into. You can choose to attend meetings, hand out leaflets, work with the fundraising and communications team, and support local events. The application process is quick and easy, and the Edinburgh branch meet once a month on Tuesdays, with committee meetings held once a month on Thursdays. If politics is your thing, it is a great way to not only get involved, but to meet with other people passionate about the same things as you.
4. Consider becoming a member of a group like GreenPeace UK. Whether you’re just interested in getting more information about climate change and what people are doing about it in your local area, or you want to donate to regional projects and join the campaign effort, groups such as these are very accessible to everyone. They have pages on platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, so you really haven’t the excuse not to check out what they’re up to.
5. As many of us students know, there are clusters of treasure trove charity shops dotted all around Edinburgh. While most people might pop in for a vintage jacket or an old book, it is well worth looking into taking up a voluntary position. Oxfam notedly published their Weather Report in 1983, and since then have been recognised as being pioneers within raising awareness around climate change. Though you may not be the humanitarian providing care packages to some of the world’s most desperate countries, in donating your time you are helping to make a difference.
6. Make an application for the University’s Sustainable Campus Fund. The University of Edinburgh announced in 2016 that by 2020 they aim to reach a state of sustainability whereby the University will have a zero carbon emission level. As a part of this, they have the ‘Sustainable Project’ in which students and staff alike can propose an idea they have for reducing carbon emissions. The project is supported by the uni before being submitted to the Utilities Working Group where it will be put into practice. Applications can be made to https://www.ed.ac.uk/about/sustainability/students/go-zero-carbon-by2040/sustainable-campus-fund.