Eco-students win “green” prize
(10 April 2008)
Durham University’s Sustainable Living Action Group has won a national award for its work on environmental initiatives.
The University-funded, student-led group beat 8 other shortlisted universities to win a coveted ‘Green Gown Award’ earlier this month at the Environmental Association of Universities and Colleges (EAUC) conference. The group was honoured for its success in encouraging students to live more environmentally-friendly lifestyles. Seven different Green Gown Awards were up for grabs and the Sustainable Living Action Group picked up the award for best student-led initiative. The Green Gown Awards, organised by the Higher Education Environmental Improvement project (HEEPI), acknowledge the achievement of higher education institutions in increasing environmental sustainability. Formed in September 2006, the Durham University group is the first programme of its kind in the UK and is a pioneer of behavioural change schemes in UK higher education. While other such UK student initiatives hold one or two events annually, the Sustainable Living Action Group holds campaigns all year round raising both student and staff awareness. The best ‘student-led initiative’ award acknowledges their success in challenging and changing student behaviour to increase environmental sustainability in the University. The group's actions have included the ‘plastic-bag-free-Durham’ initiative and the eco-friendly ‘Green Move Out’ campaign, encouraging students to recycle more of their rubbish when moving out of University. The group has also been involved with community projects such as the Durham City Fairtrade Partnership. The group isn’t afraid to use innovative ways to promote their message: previous campaigns have included the building of a ‘Rubbish Mountain’ in front of Durham Cathedral from the waste of two colleges, and a naked photo shoot advocating recycling. The campaigns have resulted in environmental improvements across the University including increased recycling rates and reduction in electricity costs. The Sustainable Living Action Group has a full-time University-funded coordinator as well as the support of the University administration which has enabled the group’s success. Anthony Crowther, Durham Student Union Environment Officer, said: “We are thrilled to achieve this award. It’s great to have been recognised for all the enthusiasm and effort we’ve put in over the past two years. “We are not going to rest on our laurels however. There’s so much more we can do and the Green Gown is a great boost to our efforts to make Durham an even greener place! “Hopefully the Sustainable Living Action Group can be a model for other Universities looking at how they can put students at the heart of their environmental improvement initiatives.” Dr Antje Danielson, Deputy Director of Sustainability at Durham University, said: “Winning the Green Gown Award is a well deserved recognition for the students running the Sustainable Living Action Group." “They have worked very hard, putting in many hours and a lot of creativity. The students are true social leaders!”