With the University of Surrey Climate Week starting next Monday, and running from 20th-26th March, SUBCULTURED decided to catch up with the society behind the events, for our latest Society Spotlight interview. Read on to find out more about the society and how you can get involved around campus next week.
What is People and Planet Society?
We would call ourselves activists, but not (necessarily) the placard-waving, chaining-ourselves-to-things type! We care about issues such as sustainability, human rights and corporate responsibility, and so we are activists in the sense that we come together to take action, in order to make a positive difference.
Our projects have included a campaign for the University to end its financial support of the fossil fuel industry, and for the University to engage in more sustainable practices.
How do you guys tie into the People and Planet Network?
Our little group at Surrey is actually one part of the People and Planet Network, which has over 2000 active members in Britain. The Network have several ongoing projects and campaigns, including their excellent University League, which gives a detailed breakdown of how sustainable each university is… as it turns out, Surrey used to be “First Class” for sustainability, but has now been downgraded to a “2:1”!
We know you run local campaigns, why do you think it’s important to have a voice locally?
Although the big campaigns are very important, we do like to focus on local issues. Let’s face it, overcoming apathy can be a challenge sometimes, and when you tackle local issues you can show yourselves and other people that you can make a positive difference, and help your community. People and Planet is really about forming connections with each other in order to help others and improve the world we live in – how better to engage with people than by starting with our own local community?
Similarly, what do you think individuals can do for the environment and/or for other people around the world?
There’s lots of things that people can do, but here are a couple of things which I think are especially important:
- Buy less unnecessary stuff. Everything we buy comes with a carbon footprint – which means the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere in order for an item to be produced and transported. Cheap clothes made in another part of the world can have a huge carbon footprint, and often, the places in which they are made don’t treat their workers all that well. So buy less, higher quality items which you will love and will last for a long time, and buy ethically.
- Pressure your local institutions/authorities to make changes. This could be your university, your local or national government, or businesses. They are in positions to make really big positive changes which will have huge impacts, and holding them to account is probably the best thing you can do to help the environment and encourage ethical practice.
What is Climate week, when is it, and what can students expect to get involved in during the week?
Climate Week is a week of free events on campus during March 20th – 26th. There will be workshops, activities, film screenings, talks from expert speakers and more.
There is honestly something for everyone! We have collaborated with as many societies as possible to bring the best possible experience to Surrey students. For example, for the more chilled out student, we’re hosting an Outdoor Meditation Session with ZenSoc. We also have workshops to unleash your inner creative self; such as gardening, and even a climate oriented art class!
Apart from workshops, we have also been very busy organising panel talks and debates. With the new Trump administration, climate change within the government is beginning to seem like a controversial topic. For this, we will be collaborating with debate soc and pol soc for an exclusive panel debate centred around this issue.
We have so much more going on, and you can find out more about this at bit.ly/surreyclimateweek
How exactly can fellow students get involved during climate week?
It’s simple! Start by attending any one of our events over the week. This week is all about learning about an issue that is all too often put to one side. Engage with our speakers and event hosts, and don’t be afraid to ask questions and challenge them! In fact we have a whole debate during the week where you can do the latter. We know everyone has a busy schedule, and if you can’t make it to the events, Monday is the perfect day to get a general feel for climate awareness. For the whole day, the LT concourse will be filled with various organisations and stalls. It’s the prime opportunity to get your questions in and just find out more.
Earth Hour also coincides with climate week. On Saturday, for one hour, millions of people across the globe will be switching off their lights to raise awareness on climate change. This is a campaign on an enormous scale, and you can find out more about how to take part here: https://www.earthhour.org/celebrate-earth-hour
What can people interested in joining the society do?
They can come along to our meetings! We are a small and friendly group, who meet every Wednesday at 7PM in room 06AC03, and often head to Wates afterwards. Don’t be shy – newcomers are always welcome!
Text by Katt Skippon
Illustration by Wiktoria Wojtaczka.