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Student profile: Lizzie Hunter

Meet Lizzie Hunter, final-year Geography student and Sustainability Officer in the Students’ Union. Tomorrow, Wednesday 22 April, is Earth Day. Lizzie shares her top tips for helping to protect our planet and volunteering opportunities you can do from home.

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Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am a final-year human geography student. I decided to run for Sustainability Officer in my final year because I’d been a part of the Students’ Union’s Green Mary sustainability group since coming to Queen Mary, and saw an opportunity to work on various sustainability-related projects while helping to run the group.

Tell us a bit about what the Students’ Union has been doing to support sustainability. 

We’ve been really engaged with sustainability this year, thanks to our Executive Officers and Sustainability Coordinator, Tom Stockton. We started the year off in September leading a march down Mile End Road as part of the Global Climate Strike. We’ve also held events such as the Re-use Fair and a clothes swap, helping to reduce waste, and were able to offer volunteering opportunities such as campus gardening and canal clean ups. We have worked with local community groups, such as Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park, getting involved with bulb planting in the local parks. The bulbs in Shandy Park opposite the Queens’ Building at Mile End are now in bloom!

The Students’ Union has also created a sustainability action plan for the next year with actions and targets to achieve. This includes reducing waste, improving recycling, engaging students and enabling the student voice. We’ve also passed a student council motion to lobby Queen Mary to declare a climate emergency, and created a board of students from across the University to raise issues relating to sustainability.

Describe your average day/week as the Sustainability Officer. 

I often meet with Tom and others within the Students’ Union to help plan upcoming events and campaigns. Fortnightly, I help run Green Mary student group meetings, helping students plan campaigns based on their specific passions.

I also meet with students to talk about what actions Queen Mary should be taking to address the climate crisis and what we can do to lobby change within our University.

I love how different each week is based on what issue we’re working on, and it gives me the opportunity to meet so many lovely people.

What’s the best thing about your job? 

It’s great to be able to work on projects that I am passionate about and I have a lot of flexibility to shape my work to my personal interests. I have a huge interest in sustainable fashion, so it was great to be given the opportunity to run a clothes swap and raise awareness of the impact of fast fashion. I also love that I have been given the opportunity to meet people who share my passion that I wouldn’t have otherwise.

As it’s Earth Day tomorrow, Wednesday 22 April, what top tips would you share with those looking to do something to help protect our planet?

My top three tips would be firstly, to think about the small actions you can take to create collective change, such as eating less meat and buying more secondhand clothing. Secondly, I would say find ways to lobby the government and corporations to take action on issues that are important to you, such as divesting from fossil fuels. As a Queen Mary student, my top tip would be to join Green Mary and help create sustainability based campaigns and events on campus! 

What actions can we do from home to support the sustainability agenda during the Coronavirus lockdown?

During the lockdown period, although it’s a lot harder, there are still lots of ways to participate in sustainability campaigns and initiatives. For example on our social media (@qmulsustain),we have been sharing various volunteering opportunities that can be done from home. For example, this week we highlighted the Missing Maps project where from your laptop you can help map areas around the world where humanitarian organisations are trying to meet the needs of vulnerable people. 

What’s your favourite place on any of our campuses? 

Regent’s Canal! I have fond memories of spending summer evenings sat by the canal with friends when I lived on campus in first year. A close second is the top floor of the Graduate Centre at Mile End, I love the view and always reminds me why I chose to move to London.

What are you going to do after you finish university?

I still haven’t made a decision about what I would like to do after university. A geography degree is broad and has given me a lot of options. I would like to work in sustainable fashion, or working to make less sustainable fashion more sustainable. I would also love to work for an environmental NGO.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party? 

I have always struggled with this question because I can never narrow it down. A sustainability-themed party would include Lucy Siegle (a great environmental journalist), Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez (the future US president), and David Attenborough (it’s a given). A wildcard would be Freddie Mercury (if they can be dead or alive) because I am secretly a huge Queen fan and he would have some amazing stories.

You can find out more information about Green Mary at qmsu.org/green or follow them @qmulsustain to keep up to date and find out about events and campaigns to get involved in.