It’s that time of year again when the students are back and the trees are not quite brown and so we can still feel inspired about Green Week. The Saint’s Emily Hill caught up with this year’s colourful Environment and Ethics officer for the SRC (Student Representative Council) Nathan Ruby.
The Saint: It’s your first big event as an official; are you pleased with the line up?
Nathan Ruby: There have been some crazier moments but now things have come together and I’m really excited about the events coming up this week. Each event is geared towards a particular environmental theme and designed to teach people about that theme through fun! For example, on Friday Fife Diet are coming with their bike-powered smoothie maker. You choose your ingredients then you hop on the bike and cycle your way to a fruity deliciousness. One of the best things about this event is that it provided me with an opportunity to engage with the local community, something which students often neglect, and I’ve loved working with Fife Diet.
TS: Is this a potential favourite event for the week then? Or do you have other recommendations?
NR: I really think there’s something for everyone this week, from film to art to music to food, and that’s how it should be; the environment is for everyone after all. Personally though I honestly can’t guarantee what I’m going to enjoy the most. Even the best made plans have some unexpected outcomes, particularly when there is so much going on. However, the final day of Green Week should be a highlight, in terms of its environmental significance at least. The One World Reclaim Energy conference is being held here in St Andrews, with people coming from across the UK to talk about the environmental issues. I’ve heard Sir David Attenborough might be in attendance…
TS: Really? [Sceptical]
NR: Well no – got you! – but we are working on getting him to come up later in the year, preferably when the students are still here, unlike this summer.
TS: What do you have planned for the rest of the year? Other than a mythical Attenborough appearance.
NR: We really want to raise the profile of the environment in St Andrews, expanding old initiatives and promoting new ones. For example the inter-hall energy challenge will be back, with £1000 on offer for the greenest hall. We also want to bring back the popular cycle-tricity event, where sports teams can compete to generate the most power. New projects include the community garden by Albany Park and potentially planting a majestic oak in the quad…
TS: Really? [more scepticism]
NR: Well I thought if it went in print it might be more likely to happen! It would be nice though, right? Anyway we also hope that Green Week will be thought provoking, that organically people will come up with ideas and feel that they can get in touch so we can work on them together.
TS: Why is Green Week so important to you?
NR: It provides an opportunity to remind the town, students and locals, that green concerns are still concerns even if we have a new recycling bin system. There is still a widespread belief that sustainability is not an ‘everyday and everyone’ issue but one for ‘environmentalists’. This is simply not the case. There are things you can do in your own house, hall or dorm room and people need a greater awareness of that. The high level officials can make as many laws as they like but just prohibiting things will not promote long term change in people’s mindset. Leaders in the environmental field have been saying for a long time that change needs to come from the grass roots up, not from the tree down. The first step is awareness and hopefully Green Week will get people talking; communication is the first step towards change.
The Saint wishes the Green Week team all the best for the coming week. If you would like to get involved with future green events, you can contact Nathan on firstname.lastname@example.org