By Niamh Casey
The Students’ Union launched their #SustainableMonday campaign at the beginning of February with the aims being to offer NUI Galway students advice and encouragement to live more sustainably and to highlight the small changes we can all make that will have a big impact on our planet.
Helping students take environmentally-sound action is a priority for the Students’ Union, and so each Monday in February they will be setting challenges, through which they will highlight tips and information on ways to live more climate-friendly. Speaking with Róisín Nic Lochlainn, the Welfare and Equality officer and the head of the campaign, she said “The climate crisis is possibly the biggest challenge facing our generation which is why I felt having dedicated days to sustainability is so important! We recently launched the SU environmental and sustainability working group which helped massively in the planning of the sustainable Mondays.”
Students’ Union President Pádraic Toomey spoke of his delight at the launch of the new initiative,
“We are delighted to launch our #SustainableMonday campaign this month. This year we introduced our SU Clean Ups and they were a huge success showing how much our students care about the world they live in. This campaign will show that by making small changes in our lives, like our choice of toothbrush, we can be part of the move to a sustainable future.”
The campaign has been launched as a replacement to the pre-existing sustainability themed week. This way the SU hopes to achieve a more lasting effect by drawing attention to the cause throughout the month. Each Monday will have a specific theme, with the first one being dedicated to sustainable eating. The goal was to encourage students to cut down on the amount of meat in their diets. Nic Lochlainn spoke about this, telling SIN, “We used the #meatfreemondays on our social media posts and others tagged us in their veggie food stories (they can win a Keep Cup if they tag us with their hashtag). We want to encourage students to try and go without meat at least once a week and SULT had some cheap, easy vegan recipes up on their social media.”
The following Monday was a two-minute beach clean-up challenge, which NUI Galway students have shown great participation for in the past. Last Monday was the Get Walking challenge, where people were asked to tag the SU in photos of their walk. This also tied in with the Students’ Union’s February Kilometre Challenge, where students walk, run, or cycle a set distance throughout the month in order to raise funds for different Galway charities like Galway Rape Crisis Centre, Galway Autism Partnership and Helplink Mental Health.
Next Monday the SU will be posting general tips for students on their social media on how to live more sustainably. Some of the tips include getting a reusable water bottle/Keep Cup, carrying reusable shopping bags, do a local area clean up and try not to buy into fast fashion. However, Nic Lochlainn added, “it is emphasised that fast fashion is a necessity for most students, and the wider population, so we won’t be pressuring anyone at all in that regard.”
The Students’ Union will also have lists of eco-friendly period products, cheap yet sustainable shopping lists and different charity shops around Galway, as well as online classes on how to make your own clothes.
To sum up, Nic Lochlainn added “This campaign is very much about thinking globally by acting locally. We will be encouraging our students to look at sustainable food and transport choices.” Overall, the movement is about bringing awareness to eco-friendly and sustainable living habits that students can incorporate into their everyday lives and use going forward into the future.