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A successfully sustainable year?

By Sarah Thomas

Tuesday 6 January 2015 Student journalists

NUS Journalist Sarah Thomas looks back at the progress the student movement made to cement sustainablilty in their institutions and in the community last year and hopes for an even 'greener' 2015.

So this is my last ever article for NUS looking at students and sustainability and what a year it has been.

I’ve written about everything from food wastage to bee hotels, visited NUS National Conference in Liverpool and the Chelsea Flower Show in London. I’ve learnt the true meanings of the words ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ and how when applied to products or services they mean very different things and I’ve also learnt about the many different sustainability projects that the NUS is supporting up and down the country. 

2014 for students engaging in sustainability was amazing, students have always done great things for their local communities, raising money for charity, bringing an economic boost for areas around universities and contributing to local politics. But never before have so many students belonged to sustainability projects making a real difference to our environment; and for the next year to come I hope that this continues and becomes bigger and stronger in 2015.

I also hope that in the 2015 general election sustainability becomes a central issue for all political parties. It is easy to be distracted by such issues as the economy or immigration levels but global warming is an issue which will affect all of us, regardless of class, gender, sexuality, race or religious beliefs.

It is a common struggle on which we are hopelessly divided; this general election could bring at least a long term and consistent policy on tackling climate change not only in this country but in Europe too. It is a policy like this that we sorely need.

We also need our universities to continue to step up their green policies by providing recycling facilities for students, purchasing more sustainable produce, educating students about sustainability and providing facilities and supporting students’ unions who engage in sustainable projects.

This year has been amazing for sustainability and long may it continue.


My name is Sarah Thomas and I am currently in my third year at Keele University studying History and English. As well as completing my degree and writing for NUS, I also read, sew, knit, bake and dance salsa. My interest in sustainable living and environmental issues really developed when I undertook a History module focusing on the developing thought of the environment and mankind’s impact on it over the course of the past two hundred years. This was an eye opening experience and made me evaluate the impact that my own actions have on the environment around me and how I could live more sustainably.

It is this passion that I have for environmental issues that meant that writing under the ‘sustainable students’ theme is perfect for me. I took the opportunity to write for NUS because as a national organisation, it really makes a difference to students’ lives up and down the country. As environmental issues are a problem that our generation will have to deal with, both in the present and the future, this is the perfect opportunity to provide a student perspective on one of the biggest challenges that we face in society today.