The easiest way to stop worrying about the future? Start shaping it...

2 December 2020

As we face a climate emergency and natural resources become critical, you have the opportunity at UCL to play an important role in shaping the future.

The easiest way to stop worrying about the future? Start shaping it...

UCL is in a unique position: we have some of the leading academics researching topics of sustainability from biodiversity to urban planning, engineering and the arts – you name it whichever department you are in – you can help solve our global challenges.

And we at Sustainable UCL are here to help. We are a 1st class University in the People and Planet University League – a league table organised by students which ranks universities against their sustainability performance.

UCL still has a long way to go through tackling academic travel, to reducing our use of resources, to working with partners in society to help tackle the climate emergency. This is why UCL has committed to the following by 2024:

Every student will have the opportunity to study and be involved in sustainability

We will increase our sustainability research, with increased focus on the Sustainable Development Goals

We will be carbon neutral, and zero carbon by 2030

We will be a single-use-plastic free campus

We will reduce waste per person by 20%

We will create 10,000m2 of more biodiverse green space on campus (that’s 2 football pitches!)

This is a big task, so we need the whole community to rise the challenge.

So what can you do?

Here are some of the opportunities you can get involved in to help UCL lead the way:

Be part of community of change makers

Here are a few stories of UCL Students making stuff happen:

As Democracy, Operations and Community Sabbatical Officer at the Students’ Union for the past 2 years, Carol Paige transformed sustainability amongst UCL student activities. She developed the Union’s first Sustainability Strategy, so it has a clear action plan to follow for years to come. The continued development and action on this strategy is ensured through a Strategy Implementation group, key senior management commitment, and annual refreshes of the document. Aside from strategic commitments, Carol also planned and hosted sustainability events throughout the year, such as the Sustainability Hustings, which highlighted that everyone has a role to play in ensuring that UCL is as sustainable as possible. She also facilitated the first Student Sustainability Council and the Sustainability Ambassador programme. Her inspiring work has engaged more students than ever in sustainability activities across UCL.

Harrison Cox is another inspiring UCL student, having been Highly Commended at the Sustainability Awards for the Student Award for Outstanding Commitment to Sustainability. He has been a member of the UCL Laws Green Impact Committee, which strives to improve sustainability in the Law faculty, and was a driving force behind their launch of their sustainability newsletter. He is also the conduit for re-establishing an environmental legal clinic within the faculty. You can sign up to help staff on the Green Impact scheme here as a Departmental Sustainability Ambassador. Green Impact is a UCL-wide environmental competition and accreditation scheme that allows departments and divisions to improve their environmental impact, support UCL’s Sustainability Strategy and engage peers and colleagues with these essential issues.

As the committee for the UCL Ahlul-Bayt Society, Lena Jasim, Abid Razavi, and Syed Qasim Naqvi worked hard this year to collaborate with other student societies and mobilise the Shia Muslim community to engage with the climate crisis. This year, they organised events to engage students in conversations around sustainability during Sustainability Week. This included working with the Climate Action Society and Pakistan Society to unite groups and learn from one another about their roles in achieving environmental justice, regardless of background. ABSoc also created their own Sustainability Report: a booklet providing information on the climate crisis, and steps individuals can take to become more sustainable in their everyday lives.


Small steps to leading a more sustainable life whilst at university

Studying at university – especially in your first year can be pretty full on. Here are some simple tips you can do to lead a sustainable life.

Use the app ‘Too Good to Go’ to save money and waste – Cafés at UCL and across London advertise discounted meals towards the end of the day.

Rent a bike for £10 a month and get free cycling lessons!

Get your bike fixed for free at UCL 

Check out the Sustainable UCL events page.

Use our showers and lockers if you are cycling or walking to university, see our cycling map here.

Save plastic, refill your bottle with our water fountain map and use the Refill London app.

Use shampoo, conditioner and shaving bars and a bamboo toothbrush to reduce plastic consumption.

Save money and reduce waste by buying sustainable sanitary wear e.g. reusable pads or a moon cup.

Eating less meat can greatly reduce environmental impact. Check out the vegetarian and vegan options offered by our catering services and across London.

Save money and eat healthy by growing your own food at Bentham’s Farm.

Last revised: 7 September 2021.

Hannah Biggs, Communications Coordinator, UCL Sustainability