Three sustainability campaign ideas on food, recycling and responsible consumption

Get inspired by three sustainability campaigns outlined below. They address the topics of food, recycling and responsible consumption. Use these ideas to promote a green campus and sustainable university.

A sustainability campaign includes a set of activities, with the goal of achieving a positive change.

To make life a bit easier for you, we have provided a comprehensive list of different campaign ideas you can carry out at your university or college:

1. Sustainability campaign on food

Industrial agriculture negatively impacts the health and well-being of people and animals. Landscapes are transformed into mono-cultures operated by large companies with poor working conditions, pesticides create ‘green deserts’ without any biodiversity and animal farms are cruel places for animals to live. It’s time to raise awareness and offer tangible solutions.

Reducing meat and diary consumption, promoting organic and fair-trade food and supporting local family farms are all ways into the right direction.

Work with the university’s catering company to run a sustainable food campaign. As part of this campaign, you might organise these actions:

  • Meatless Mondays (no meat dishes are served on Monday’s at the university)
  • Vegetarian cooking workshops
  • Vegetarian lunches, including lunch talks
  • Sell vegetable bags from local farmers
  • Post vegetarian recipes on social media
  • Screen Vegucated or Cowspiracy (or another food-related sustainability documentary)

In this way, you can help to make a difference, inspiring people to change their own behaviours and lobbying for institutional changes at your university or college.

(Inspired by VU Amsterdam and HU Utrecht)

Distributing organic food can be part of your sustainability campaign

Distributing organic food can be part of your sustainability campaign

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2. Recycling

Plastics are a cheap, durable, and lightweight material to produce, package or transport goods. However, only 15% of all plastics are recycled. The majority ends up in landscapes, rivers or the oceans. Plastics decompose very slowly (your average plastic bottle takes up to 450 years), so they tend to stick around if not recycled properly. Over time, plastics kill animals and harm human health.

How much plastics are consumed at your university? How much of this plastic is disposed properly?

Collaborate with building managers and the waste manager to run a recycling campaign to promote waste recycling. You could do the following activities as part of this sustainability campaign:

  • Distribute reusable cups
  • Offer discounts for drinks if students bring their own cup
  • Improve labels for recycling bins
  • Produce a promotional video on waste separation
  • Organise a swap shop event to allow students to exchange second-hand clothes
  • Run an upcycling workshop
  • Distribute composting bins and worms to student houses

(Inspired by Wageningen, UvA Amsterdam, Maastricht)

A swap shop event to allow students to exchange second-hand clothes could be part of your sustainability campaign

Your sustainability campaign could include a swap shop event to allow students to exchange second-hand clothes

3. Responsible consumption

People in modern society don’t produce clothes or food themselves. They buy it. However, the products you buy might include toxic materials, be produced under bad working conditions, or pollute rivers and landscapes.

Responsible consumption is the vision that goods and services are produced and consumed in a way that protects workers’ rights and the integrity of the environment.

Co-create a sustainability campaign to promote responsible consumption among students. Here are some ideas for activities:

  • Host a quiz night on responsible consumption
  • Publish a physical and digital map of all sustainability, fairtrade or organic shops, supermarkets and restaurants in your city
  • Distribute these maps in bags to first year students
  • Run a city game to explore sustainable consumption in the city
  • Organise sustainability city tours to visit different locations on the map
  • Offer discounts for students at stores who are on the map

(Inspired by Groningen, HU Utrecht)

Include a sustainability map and city game in your sustainability campaign

Make a sustainability map and organise a city game as part of your sustainability campaign

Other ideas for a sustainability campaign

If none of those topics are of real interest to you, then you might want to organise one of the following sustainability campaigns instead:

  • Urge the university to divest its endowment from fossil fuels (Exeter)
  • Publish an overview of all sustainability courses and minors students can take at the university. Promote this overview among students to encourage them to take sustainability-related courses (HU Utrecht, Hildesheim)
  • You could also participate in national sustainability campaigns, by mobilising students to join climate marches, strikes and direct actions (Gothenburg)

We hope that these ideas inspired you to organise a sustainability campaign at your university or college. If running a campaign sounds too challenging, you could also start by hosting a sustainability event.

Mobilise students to join national sustainability campaigns

Mobilise students to join a national sustainability campaign

Run more sustainability campaigns with a Green Office