5 things I learned from being your Live Smart Co-ordinator

My final week as Live Smart Co-ordinator and as a student is now sadly coming to a close. Like many other students, I will be moving on from my studies and adapting to the new graduate world that COVID-19 has created.

Reflecting back on my time as your Live Smart Co-ordinator I’ve realised it has prepared me for many ways in the future. It’s been one of the most rewarding job roles I’ve ever had! (Special shout out to the rest of the Sustainability Team who are the most lovely bunch and most amazing at what they do!)

I’ve learnt loads this year, but here are my top 5 things I think all students should know…..

1. Sustainability is more than the stereotypes

Charlotte at our Live Smart Campus Roadshow

The first and biggest thing I have learned from my role as Live Smart Co-ordinator is what sustainability actually is to its fullest extent. Most assume Sustainability is about litter picking and saving the environment…but really it’s about so much more!

Before I could get underway with planning the Live Smart Challenge I had to familiarise myself with what exactly Sustainability is and how it connected with the concept of Live Smart.

That’s where I discovered something we call the triple bottom line: people, profit, and planet!

These are all linked though – think about something like walking or cycling to uni instead of driving:

  • To you (the people bit) – exercise is great for your wellbeing, and reduced emissions also support better health
  • To your finances (the profit bit) – walking is free and cycling significantly cheaper than driving
  • To the environment (the planet bit) – reducing emissions helps us slow and stop climate change

I bet you didn’t think sustainability would cover this much! I’m so much more mindful of the world around me now.     

2. Sustainability and the Law – how sustainability links to your degree

Charlotte and Jojo at Hawkwood

Studying Law has been both challenging and eye-opening, but it’s a massive subject and at the moment my course only focuses on some of the most conventional routes and paths of the subject.

My mind was really opened though when I had the privilege of attending the Hawkwood Climate Action Lab in Stroud where I got to hear a talk by Jojo Mehta on “Ecocide”. Jojo and the late Polly Higgins have been the driving force and pioneers of “Ecocide Law”.

For those law students out there you may be familiar with the crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity, ingrained within the Geneva Convention and crimes punishable at a full international level.

Thanks to Jojo and Polly though, Ecocide (the large-scale systematic destruction of the natural living world) will soon be up there with these crimes.

The Hawkwood Ecocide workshop made me realise there was so much more than the traditional “commercial” and “criminal” routes law students are often told of. The workshop has now inspired me to look for careers in less conventional industries like international aid and sustainability and environment law.

I urge everyone else to get out there and research how sustainability links with your interests and course discipline and you might just be inspired too!

Read my blog on Ecocide here.

3. Learning about sustainability is easier than you think

No one is an expert on sustainability. Whether you are a top climate scientist or just a regular student, everyone is constantly learning and moving forwards. That’s really the only way any of us are going to vision and build a better future for people and the planet.

One thing I’ve really learnt this year though is just how easy it is to get a grip of the sustainability basics.

Follow the Sustainability Team on social media for regular links to tips, articles or even free short courses you take to skills up! 🙂

We’re on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

4. Sustainability will give your career the edge

Nancy Harris – winner of the 2019 Radical Sustainability Competition

First of all (shout out to the brilliant Future Plan team) getting some real-world experience whilst at uni is pretty invaluable!

Work experience in sustainability though is really an extra edge. With more and more employers incorporating triple bottom line sustainability into their corporate strategies, more and more employers are looking for graduates with the knowledge and skills to take this forwards.

Working in the Sustainability Team as Live Smart Co-ordinator I’ve learnt so much: how to envision alternative futures and influence not just individuals but whole systems to create change.

One of the biggest skills I have progressed on though is problem solving. The nature of my job meant I had to work out various methods, alternatives and routes to combat problems – whether that be working out how to maximise student engagement with the Live Smart Challenge, or switching our activities online through things like the Live Smart at Home series.

Not only have these various challenges improved by problem solving but also my adaptability and how I’ve been able to continue and progress in challenging situations. Of course that’s not been without the help of the rest of my colleagues in the Sustainability Team! But that has also only improved my collaboration skills and resource management too!  

5. Wow – how inspiring are UoG students?!

Entries to the 2019-20 Live Smart Community Challenge

To end on my final note, the most amazing thing about being Live Smart Co-ordinator is being able to see and reflect upon all the good things we have worked towards within the Sustainability team.

One of the most satisfying things is all the students I got to speak to and work with for the Live Smart Challenge. The Live Smart Challenge was all about community and some of the challenge entrants really grasped the concept and nailed it to a tee, we had entrants such as Ben Hughes who used his own initiative and created his own designs and concept for a derelict old leisure centre building to become a new community space that would integrate all members of the community. Other entrants such as Elijah who helped create and develop a friendly and sustainable community garden and improving the area for the local wildlife.

Read more about this on the blog here.

Being the face of our online Instagram series Live Smart at Home has also seen loads of students get engaged, whether it was the quiz or those of you watching how to make a safe and sustainable face mask. From the Live Smart Challenge and the Live Smart at Home series it’s amazing to know that so many of our students out there have been inspired to take their own initiative and got engaged with what we do at Live Smart.

I encourage everyone reading this to think about sustainability a little bit more and I hope I have been able to pass on at least a little bit of knowledge.

For the rest of my final year students out there, good luck for the future and think twice about Sustainability! UoG Sustainability Team – it’s been a pleasure!

Very best wishes,

Charlotte Homer – Live Smart Co-ordinator 2019-20

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