Geography and sociology student Sarah Bacom is a student engagement promoter for the University of Glasgow’s Environmental Sustainability Team (GUEST). She works with the Estates and Buildings department of the University to create a culture of sustainability at Glasgow and to encourage students to adopt habits that cause less harm to the environment.
Sarah has also served as Campaign Co-ordinator for the Oxfam student society on campus, where she was involved with a ‘keep the cup’ initiative to raise awareness of the benefits of reusing the same cup, rather than throwing away takeaway coffee cups every day.
Sarah will now work on a similar campaign with GUEST – ‘ban the bottle’ - to encourage a reduction in the number of water bottles being sold on campus and replace this with the use of water fountains and reusable water containers.
“GUEST is absolutely incredible. It works to promote environmental sustainability on campus and to help students engage with environmentalism. We have seven different branches, covering everything from waste reduction to energy. I help to plan events and maximise engagement - show students that it’s quite easy to just change small things in your habits to become a bit greener.
The ultimate aim is to create an action-oriented university-wide sustainability policy. As the Student Engagement Promoter, I worked to create a sustainability culture – empowering the local and university communities through effective mediation between internal and external parties, and creating engaging events on environmentalism for students.
This led to the successful launch and execution of several projects, including the Glasgow Goes Green Week Festival 2017, which is the UK’s largest nationwide week of student climate action. All four universities in Glasgow partnered to create a festival that celebrated "What Does Green Mean to You?" by showcasing the versatile and engaging projects running throughout the city which promote a healthier planet and lifestyle.
As the Project Manager for the festival, it was my responsibility to manage its overall organisation. I was delighted that by the end, we’d had more twenty local and national community organisations and businesses showcasing their exciting initiatives and projects to over four hundred attendees from the local area.
I got a healthy dose of nature as a kid – going to national parks, hiking a lot. I want to preserve the environment so that others can experience what I’ve been able to experience. It’s really important to me to leave the world a better place than when I came into it, or at the very least, a preserved place. And if you just go for something, if you put your best foot forward and don’t get stuck on the what-ifs, then I think you can achieve a lot.
We talk about the future in my geography classes and it’s not always a ray of sunshine, but in the class, everyone is thinking – how can we change that, what can we do to alleviate that problem? To see that compassion and hope emerging in others is really exciting for me.”