Page last updated at: Mon, 15 November 2010 16:15 PM GMT Printable version

Building a greener future

by Jules Roebuck

The famous Gherkin building in London. Photo by Ilan Tasche.The sustainable design society was set up last year by students on the MA Fashion and the Environment course at LCF shortly before the annual UAL Go Green Week which promotes the university’s sustainability agenda to fellow students and staff.

Due mainly to the structure and inefficiency of the UAL college buildings scattered around London, our university has a disappointing environmental track record.

In the 2010 People and Planet University Green League we achieved a ‘lower second class award’, coming 72nd place out of 133 UK universities. Although the Students’ Union achieved maximum points in their assessment review we believe that more can be done.

By working to engage students in the importance of sustainability issues and ways they can reduce their environmental impact, we can improve in other areas of the green league assessment.

As the creative industries change and adapt to incorporate sustainability agendas they will create improved products. We believe that UAL should be recognised not just as a hub for producing creative talent but also for producing work and alumni who are passionate about creative and sustainable innovation and can champion the change throughout the various industries that UAL graduates enter into.

The events we have been involved in so far have been mainly fashion based, as the society members were all fashion students. Events for Go Green Week 2010 included a swap shop, an Italian vintage pop-up boutique, mending workshops, crochet and knitting classes and an evening of talks focusing on different areas of sustainable fashion by industry professionals.

Comprehensive appeal

Whilst these events were successful and raised awareness regarding the issues, we felt that we could not attract a larger proportion of UAL students focusing solely on fashion-based events.

At the start of this academic year, we signed up more new members from varying courses. By working together we are able to learn from each other and learn new things regarding sustainability in fields different to our individual areas of study.

By representing a broader range of courses we have more comprehensive appeal, which is a great new move for the society. This will be particularly useful when planning the schedule for the 2011 Go Green Week.

With each member bringing new information and ideas we will be able to create a diverse series of events and activities to bring UAL students together to learn new skills, learn about how sustainability is relevant to their area of study, see examples of students work, and to be updated with the UAL sustainability agenda and ways they can make a difference.

Sustainable initiatives

Another aim for the society this year will be to work more broadly around these events, to include community and industry. For previous events we have worked with the Ethical Fashion Forum and TRAID (Textile Recycling for Aid and International Development), and so for future projects we hope to work with a range of businesses and community groups pursuing exciting sustainable initiatives. 

Some new members have joined to learn more about sustainability in design, and others that are well informed are keen to develop sustainable alternatives in their specific area of study.

Some courses are able to incorporate sustainable initiatives better than others, but a vital element to the development of the UAL sustainability agenda is to ensure that these issues are implemented throughout curriculum and research in all areas.

We can’t change our environmental impact overnight, but we are working to bring together those that are passionate about sustainable in design from any UAL course to inspire others and create an innovative reputation for sustainability at our university that we can be proud of.

If you are interested in joining the sustainable design society please check out the page on the website or contact


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