Sustainability Week: ‘It’s a collective problem put on the individual’

| Mira Pohle

With the Sustainability Week, which starts today, the UT is trying to showcase its sustainability efforts. How sustainable are UT students and how do they feel about the topic? Three of them share their views. ‘I don’t really see how me changing myself is going to impact anything.’

Photo by: Gijs van Ouwerkerk

‘It’s not just important on the individual level’

Nicole Tschap, 25, an MSc student in European Studies and Political Science, says sustainability is very important to her. ‘I think I do what most students do: I use public transport, I use my bike, I eat vegan, I try to use less plastic and only buy clothes on eBay. I don’t take flights within Europe anymore; I take the train and I actually like it. I changed my behaviour and even my parents seem to adopt it and try to eat more sustainable and use their car less. I think I changed a lot throughout the last years of becoming more aware of climate change.’

Nicole reflects on her studies at the UT. ‘When you’re a Political Science student, you talk about sustainability every day and you know what’s at stake. It’s absolutely important, sometimes unfortunately not important enough for policy advisors to really change anything. The government and policy makers tend to make it a you-problem; we call it governmentalism. There is a collective problem that occurred like climate change, and they put it onto the individual. They tell us we need to change and adapt to climate change when the big players actually need to change their behaviour. It’s not just important on the individual level solely.’

‘I only recently figured out what the different colours mean’

Kristijonas Kairys, 23, a BSc student in Industrial Design Engineering, recognises Van Hoopen’s perspective. ‘I often buy plastic bags and don’t know much about what the UT does to be sustainable. I think they do well with the garbage disposal, I just wish they would put writing on the trash. I only recently figured out what the different colours mean.’

‘I think I’m moderately sustainable’

Celine Annika Japadermawan, 19, studying in the BSc Psychology, says she tries to be sustainable. ‘I recycle bottles, take quick showers, and reduced my energy consumption. But I could definitely be more sustainable, like using less plastic. I think plastic bags are good for storage but obviously they’re really bad for the environment. I think the topic is really important though, even though I don’t do much. Obviously, it pertains to climate change and the environment and without it, well, the world could end.’

When reflecting on the topic of sustainability at the UT, she mentions being pleasantly surprised. ‘I think the UT is one of the more sustainable universities, especially considering that I came from a different country that didn’t really focus on sustainability. One of the things that really impressed me was the paper towels in the bathrooms, which I know is a simple thing, but I’ve never seen it anywhere else.’

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