The sustainable Guild of Students

Posted on: 29 April 2022 in Issue 1

The Guild of Students actively supports a diverse range of initiatives and activities to enable and encourage students to live, work and study sustainably. Laela Purvis-Greenway, the new Sustainability Manager at the Guild, tells us more about the Guild’s wide range of work.

“The Guild has always had sustainability at the forefront of its thinking,” says Laela. “We aim to improve our social and environmental impact throughout all activities and actions. We believe that one of the best ways to improve and enrich the student experience is to offer a variety of opportunities to forge new connections with people and the planet, become educated on world issues and have the knowledge to solve the most difficult problems that we face in modern day.

Laela continues: “Within the myriad of environmental and social issues that the world faces, are the many that directly and indirectly affect University of Liverpool students. The University offers education to people from all over the world, so the scope of sustainability issues is not limited to just those that the city of Liverpool faces. It is our responsibility to offer the best quality education and support so that we can help prepare students for these challenges, while also ensuring we take responsibility for the impact we have on the world around us.”

Education matters
The Guild’s main priorities stem from campaigns led by its student officers, as well as campaigns championed by Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS) and the NUS. “The NUS runs the annual Green Impact Awards which allows the Guild to audit and identify our environmental and social impact,” Laela explains. “It acts as a guideline for how the Guild shapes its sustainability initiatives, as we audit and report on aspects such as how well the Guild has developed student knowledge and understanding of sustainability issues, and how leadership and policy is shaped within the Union.”

Working with NUS, the Guild runs a Student Switch off project which aims to help students improve energy efficiency, recycling and other green behavioural changes while students are living in university accommodation. This project is supported by paid volunteer opportunities, with the Guild offering Flat Sustainability Champion training on how to improve energy efficiency, and waste management. “The overall aim is to promote new ideas, conversations and interest in consumption and environmental management while having a range of social benefits that allow students to meet likeminded individuals and champion good practice,” adds Laela.

Aligning activities
The Guild’s Sustainability Team works to offer students the chance to engage with sustainability, based upon the University’s institutional goals as well as key intergovernmental commitments such as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. “We respond to the interests and concerns of students, by offering events, Give it a Go sessions, volunteering opportunities and support campaigns that explore sustainability and further help students become meaningful and empowered agents of change,” says Laela. “These have previously included bike maintenance sessions, herb pot planting, plant pot painting, mindful study breaks and instructions to a hedgehog friendly campus.”

Whatever the activity, enabling students to make meaningful connections with each other is crucial, as Laela explains: “In the past two years of the pandemic, we have seen a rise in mental health issues and lack of connection to the people around us. We feel it is important that we make simple, mindful opportunities available to students so that they can not only connect with sustainability but also reconnect with peers that they missed during lockdown.”

The Guild also reaches out to colleagues and teams across the University to support its work, such as the University’s careers team. “We ran a Sustainability Leadership session that taught students how sustainability applies to their future careers as well as highlighting new job opportunities in the industry,” she adds.

SDG curriculum mapping
SDG Curriculum Mapping, a student-led audit of the modules taught across the University was recently completed. Developed by Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS), this programme offers training and resources to help students audit modules taken throughout 2021-22 and identify whether they include information and learning aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The audit is due to be completed by June 2022, and the subsequent report will be accessible to students via the Guild website. It will also be shared with the University’s Education for Sustainable Development Working Group, which embedding sustainability into the curriculum.

“We also make sure that students have all the resources they need to improve their own environmental impact,” stresses Laela. “Leave Liverpool Tidy" is a programme we run in partnership with British Heart Foundation and Fare Share. It aims to help student living in halls, and student populated residential areas, to prevent reusable items and food going to waste. We facilitate this by setting up donation banks, collection points, volunteer opportunities and events. This year’s Leave Liverpool Tidy will launch in May in preparation for students moving out of halls and rented housing at the end of the academic year.”

Give it a Go opportunities are also a great way for students to interact with sustainability issues by trying new activities. Forthcoming sessions include Beekeeping training and beeswax wrap making, weekly gardening opportunities, nature walks, night rides, and the LivCycle Bike Hire initiative. These opportunities are available for students and staff to sign up to via the Guilds website either in volunteering, events or Give it a Go.

Meet the Guild’s Sustainability Team
The Team is made up of Laela Purvis-Greenway, the Sustainability Manager, Arlisa Gilronan, the Sustainability Co-ordinator and Ruby Falcus, the Sustainability Assistant. Laela’s is responsible for the delivery of the Guild’s sustainability projects focused on education, engagement, and outreach while also maintaining partnerships with key stakeholders around the University. Arlisa is the Project Co-ordinator for the Guild’s sustainability-related Give it a Go and Halls-exclusive activities and Ruby supports the team by helping plan and run sessions with students.