The award-winning week was shortlisted against seven other events and groups for the National Societies and Volunteering Awards Collaboration Award.

Falmouth and Exeter Students’ Union Sustainability Week wins National Award

Falmouth and Exeter Students’ Union have won Collaboration of the Year at the National Societies and Volunteering Awards for their Sustainability Week, it has been announced.

Running from 4-8 November 2019, the week-long campaign was a result of SU-initiated research which found students wanted more concrete action on sustainably initiatives following the declaration of the climate and environment emergency by both the University of Exeter and Falmouth University.

The Students' Union Green Council, along with sustainability-focused societies, worked to create a new campaign to encourage the university community and local partners to embrace a new sustainable lifestyle.

The award-winning week was shortlisted against seven other events and groups for the National Societies and Volunteering Awards (NSVAs) Collaboration Award.

The judging panel said the campaign “tackled a serious issue in a fun but meaningful way. The number of societies and organisations involved is impressive.”

Sarah Redman, SU President Student Experience during Sustainability Week, said: “I’m absolutely over the moon that one of our main campaign and manifesto priorities, Sustainability Week, was awarded the Collaboration Award at the National Societies and Volunteering Awards.

“Massive thank you to everyone who worked on the campaign, especially the members of the Green Council, and in particular its Chair, Ellen Monaghan, for working tirelessly to put sustainability at the forefront of The SU and our campuses – congratulations!”

The project collaborated with the universities, community, and student organisations to create a holistic campaign which aimed to make Cornwall a beacon of sustainability and hoped to inspire wider behaviour change and fuel the climate change agenda on both Falmouth University and the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campuses.

Some of the week’s planet-focused events included bulb planting with campus staff, a beach clean with the Beach Clean Project, a bird feeder making workshop with Eco Soc and a repair café with The Renewable Energy Society.

A talk titled ‘Where are we now’ also took place following climate emergency declarations given by society leaders, the SU, lecturers, and the Universities.

Throughout the week there was also a vegetarian and vegan menu in The Stannary, the on-campus bar, as well as a sustainable business and society fayre.

The activity across the week led to increased memberships in sustainability focused societies, an increased awareness of green initiatives and the creation of a Sustainable Students' community on social media where students can share campaigns and ideas.

The collaborative nature of the campaign meant that students engaged far more in the events and became the most successful SU campaign of the year in terms of attendance and reach.

It also led to the Universities committing to trialling Meat Free Mondays, as well as considering campaigns focused on eliminating single-use plastics and materials.

The feedback collected at various events during the campaign was also used throughout the rest of the academic year to lobby the universities to commit to sustainable change.

Since Sustainability Week, more student-led behavioural change campaigns have emerged such as ‘Don’t be a Mug’ discouraging the use of single-use cups, and an Edible Pathways project in collaboration with FX Plus to create an educational trial of edible plants and trees around Penryn campus.

Ellen Monaghan, SU Environment and Ethics Chair, said: “We're thrilled that Sustainability Week was awarded the Collaboration Award at the NSVAs.

“Receiving this national recognition showcases how well our societies, representatives and democratic structures are working closely with the two universities, FX Plus and the local community to deliver change.

“Huge thanks to everyone involved with the campaign, especially to the student Green Council, who helped to plan and deliver the week.

“We’ve come leaps and bounds since last year - the success of this campaign is just one example of our collaborative efforts to put the climate emergency at the forefront of the SU and university priorities and make Cornwall a beacon of sustainability. There's plenty more to do and I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next!”

Professor Juliet Osborne, from the University of Exeter’s Environment and Sustainability Institute, said: “I’m thrilled to see these societies gaining national recognition for their projects, which represent our values so well and have left a legacy that is becoming embedded in everyday practice.”

It was also recently announced that the work of staff and students on the environment and climate emergency has led to the University of Exeter being shortlisted in the 2020 Guardian University Awards ‘Sustainability’ category.

Find out more about the sustainability work taking place at the University here:

Read more on the Falmouth and Exeter Students’ Union website

Date: 20 May 2020