Students play a key role in solving the climate and environmental crisis

How does the energy crisis affect students’ everyday life? How can I change my own consumption habits in my own life? How do I identify a responsible company among many? For example, these themes were discussed at the Sustainability Days organized by the Student Union of LUT University (later LTKY) last November. The Sustainability Days were theme days that lasted three days, when there were programs focused on sustainability and responsibility in both LUT campuses in Lappeenranta and Lahti. The Sustainability Days were part of the “Sustainability upholds, uphold sustainability” project of the National Union of University Students in Finland. Students’ climate anxiety is growing rapidly, which is why LTKY also wants to give its own contribution in bringing responsibility themes to students’ awareness.

On the first sustainability-themed day 15.11., the topic was responsible consumption. In the morning, fairs considering energy consumption were organized on the campuses, when a few energy, housing and environmental companies came to present their activities to the students. After the fair, a panel discussion was organized in the university cafeteria in Lappeenranta on the topic “How can I live environmentally friendly and consume sustainably? How can I reduce my electricity bill?”. The panel discussion included speakers from the city of Lappeenranta, LUT University, and South Karelia’s Martat. Each speaker had a slightly different background, which is why the discussion was nicely conducted from many different angles. The last activity of the day was the Climate Puzzle workshop organized by LUT-Junior University. In the workshop, the participants were able to calculate their own carbon footprint, and then think of ways to reduce the footprint in the form of a game.

The theme of the second day was ‘climate food’. LTKY’s board organized an escapade in the lobby of Lappeenranta’s Student Union Building, where students were encouraged to reduce their food waste, as well as told about the climate and environmental effects of food waste. In addition to this, during the day, a workshop held by Reilu Kauppa Finland was organized online together with the Student Union of the University of Lapland. The topic of the workshop was “Is there enough food? The effects of the climate crisis on food security”. Throughout the day, the university’s two restaurants also focused specifically on serving vegetarian food.

On the last sustainability-themed day 17.11., the topic was recycling. The day started with a flea market held by the environmental engineering guild Pelletti ry, where any student could bring things and clothes to sell. In connection with the flea market, a recycling game was held. In the game participants could test their own recycling skills. The day culminated in a corporate responsibility-themed workshop held by Eetti ry, where we discussed the truthfulness of the responsibility promises of different stores. The workshop involved the students, and the participants got to check out the websites and responsibility reports of the different companies.

Students are indeed in a key position in solving the effects of the climate and environmental crisis. For this reason, I think it is important that the themes of responsibility are kept as a
visible part of the activities of various higher education institutions, and that training related to the topic is organized. The National Union of University Students in Finland is also a pioneer in this field when it started the Sustainability upholds, uphold sustainability project together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland. The project has nicely brought responsibility themes to the awareness of students at eight different campuses in Finland for two years. At least we at LTKY are going to establish sustainability themed days as part of our annual activities, even though the SYL’s project has officially ended. I hope that the same thing is aimed for in as many other places as possible!

Suvi-Tuuli Ryhänen
Board member of LTKY 2022 & 2023

This blog post has been published as part of the project Sustainability holds us up, uphold sustainability, run by SYL and eight student unions.

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