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Sustainable societies

Getting to know the Sustainable Futures Society

LSE has a vibrant community and student body passionate about sustainability, with over 15 sustainability-focused student societies. For Earth Day, we talk to the Co-Presidents of the Sustainable Futures Society, Alice Rigo-Saitta and Jorge Stevenson, about their fantastic sustainability work at the School.

"The main way we feel we can make an impact is through educating people so they can go further and tackle green issues themselves." 

Can you tell us about the Sustainable Futures society and what you do?

Jorge:  We have two separate prongs as a society. Firstly, we run the Sustainable Projects Fund – this is a £20,000 fund to which students and staff can apply to support projects relating to sustainability on campus.

We help students with their applications and in February (2022) we hosted a panel event attended by different stakeholders at LSE – including students and representatives from the catering division, finance division, and sustainability team – to allocate funding to shortlisted applicants.  

We then help with project implementation, advise students on running their projects and link them up with stakeholders.

Our second prong as a society is that we run student projects ourselves that don’t require funding. We currently have eight projects. We work with the LSE sustainability team to discuss areas we want to tackle with regards to sustainability at LSE and recruit project leads with a project mission.

Can you expand on some of the projects you’re working on?

Alice: One area we’re currently focusing on is sustainable fashion. It’s a topic that has been previously unexplored at LSE. We’re working closely with the fashion society to fund a vintage fashion show on campus, and we’ve been running pop-up sales. For example, we did one for Green week and another for Student Volunteering week. We want to increase awareness in this area as the fashion industry is responsible for about 10 per cent of global carbon emissions

We have funded another big project with LSE Careers to campaign for more sustainable career options. They are making videos and podcasts about sustainable jobs.

Jorge: Another key project involves investigating sustainable packaging at LSE. We’re trying to rejig current packaging and waste and pull it into one simple process that students can get behind. There’s a lot of misunderstanding in terms of what can and can’t be recycled so we’re trying to present to LSE stakeholders the idea of making everything compostable.

Another project is about embedding sustainability in education, where we’re trying to get sustainability on all courses throughout LSE. We’re working with departments, Professors and PhD students to make sustainability more of a focus.

The main way we feel we can make an impact is through educating people so they can go further and tackle green issues themselves. Once people start thinking about sustainability at a base level, it impacts everything they do in the future.

Alice: LSE has a lot of super smart people learning very cool things but in terms of sustainability education there is a lot of improvement to be made.

How many members do you have?

Jorge: We have different levels of members. We have members who are part of the society and help with some events throughout the year like fashion sales. We have about 120 of these members.

Then we have the project members who are students who are actively involved on a project. There’s about 35 members at this level.

Alice: A lot of what we do is very practical, it impacts campus very directly so people tend to be more involved than they would be in other societies.

Why is sustainability at LSE important to you both?

Jorge: It’s important everywhere. A lot of students at LSE will go on to have important roles and be at the forefront of their industries. The only way we’re going to tackle the climate crisis is to embed sustainability in all sectors and have it as at the forefront of people’s minds and not as an afterthought.

The only way to galvanise that is to introduce sustainability within education.

Alice: The definition of sustainability is to preserve resources to meet future needs. Everyone should, if they can, be instructing themselves on how to take a long-term sustainable approach and be those people who are able to make change in their jobs. We should do more. LSE can do more on this as an institution.

Jorge: Sustainability is something people must start accepting. LSE is adapting but no-one in the whole world is realistically doing it at a pace that’s necessary.

What is your one top tip for people wanting to make a sustainable lifestyle change?

Alice: Use your wallet wisely and consume less. Don’t buy fast fashion and, if you can, try and think about where your food comes from and buy more locally.

Jorge: Educate yourself about sustainability and try to make decisions based on the question: how does this impact the environment?

Alice: Join the Sustainable Futures society!

For more information about the Sustainable Futures Society or to join them, visit their webpage.