Turtles to tote bags: a year in the SGO


Turtles to tote bags: a year in the SGO

This year I have been part of the four-person team that makes up the Student Green Office (SGO). We are students, we are green, and yes, we do have a small office in the sustainability corridor that is poignantly located at the center of our University’s Canterbury campus.  

Surprisingly, one of the most rewarding parts of the job has been to learn more about our University than I ever imagined I would. Like the numerous green spaces that we are privileged to have on our University campus such as the Johnson Wellbeing Garden, small allotments spaces and our University’s green hopped ale which is produced every year using hops that are grown on campus. I met many brilliant staff members from various parts of the University as well as venturing to parts of the campus that I otherwise wouldn’t have known about. I have learned about how the University functions in a way that I wouldn’t have had I simply been a student. Working as a University employee, I have really felt like part of the University.

Image description: a group of students at a table covered in painted tote bags and art supplies in the Daphne Oram foyer

As part of my work in the SGO I have written blog posts about things that I am interested in such as Fairtrade Fortnight and turtles (still to be posted) which sums up how diverse my role in the SGO has been. One week we would be running a stall on an open day, talking to prospective students about the SGO, and the next we would be running a tote bag painting session as part of the library’s Stress Less events. This diversity has made the job incredibly interesting!  

With the variety of events, I have been involved in, meeting people and talking with them about sustainability has been at its core. I have drawn on my previous experience in retail and community campaigning where I would also meet a wide variety of people. For example, when running a stall in Touch Down you never know who you are going to meet! The diversity at our University is fantastic, with students of different ages, studying a wide range of subjects, from various backgrounds and from so many different parts of the world. Talking to students about the various aspects of sustainability is made much more interesting when their own experiences and ideas are so different. I have learned a lot from people and believe that difference makes us stronger as a community when we share with each other.  

When I first joined the SGO I was pleased to learn from the experience of Max and Holly, who were in their second year of working for the SGO, and it was a pleasure to become part of the team. The role has really helped me learn the benefits of learning from other people’s experience. Felicity Brambling-Wells, who leads the SGO, has been an excellent source of knowledge and experience to us in the SGO and I’m sure will help any students who work for the SGO in the future.

Image description: Tim at Tea and Toasty with a bottle of Three Choughs Ale

One of the highlights of my year working in the SGO was when we ran beer tasting sessions for students. Our University’s ale is unique. The hops are grown on campus, which is part of the Canterbury UNSECO World Heritage site and brewed at a local brewery, while the bottle labels are designed each year by students. The reactions of students at our tasting sessions ranged from ‘nope, that’s not for me’ to ‘that’s absolutely gorgeous’. I am a big fan of the University’s ale and it was fun helping students have a taste, especially those who had never tried ale before.

I also spearheaded our work that we did promoting Fairtrade during Fairtrade Fortnight as it is something that I am passionate about. We were lucky enough to receive samples of Fairtrade products from Divine, Equal Exchange, Coco Loco, Zaytoun and Karma Drinks. We believed it was important to promote the fact that Fairtrade is about more than chocolate, so it was brilliant that we had drinks and nuts to share with students… of course there was lots of chocolate too! We held several pop-up tasting sessions and also ran a competition.

Working for the SGO has been a unique experience and we are lucky that our University is the only one in the UK with an SGO.

You can read previous posts to find out more about our University’s ale:

For more on Fairtrade:

By Tim Licence, SGO Projects Officer #actingtogether             

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