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Sustainability like an oil spill

door Redactie

Radboud University (RU) has gotten a step closer to the realization of its sustainable ideals. Last Tuesday, the new Radboud Green Office was officially opened. With this, Nijmegen follows the example set by numerous other universities around the Netherlands, which have had a Green Office for a while.

Original text: Vincent Veerbeek
Translation: Lorin Posthumus

An example of progress
The Green Office has to become the place to be to propose sustainable ideas for students and employees at the RU and the Radboudumc. The office will have a connecting role between the sustainability projects that have already started. ‘At the moment, there is already a lot going on’, says Thijmen Sietsma, who is the green office coordinator. Sietsma is already mapping all the projects, like experimental gardens and the construction plans for the new Maria Montessori building. The Green Office will be situated in TvA1 with a progressive office that aims to serve as an example for the offices around the campus. ‘I want to furnish the office with secondhand furniture’, says Sietsma. ‘It needs to become an example to show that things can be done differently, for instance by not using paper anymore but by using erasable notepads.’

Students in charge
It is not yet clear what exactly the office will be doing, because at the moment there are five open vacancies for the students who will be leading the office. ‘I want students who work for the Green Office to have an important role in choosing the projects.’ Being the coordinator, Sietsma will have a supporting role and give direction where needed but leave the rest to the students who are in charge. Because students are an important audience for the Green Office, the university has made the conscious choice to have the office be led by a student team. ‘It is important that students continue to make sustainable choices even after they graduate and leave university.’ Sietsma wants to raise more awareness above anything else. ‘Hopefully awareness about sustainability will spread across the university like an oil spill.’

The blacksmith’s secret
Even though AKKUraatd has been pleading for a Green Office since 2013, the actual realization of it had to wait until Nijmegen was proclaimed the official Green Capital of Europe. The RU is far from the first university with a special point of contact for sustainability issues. At the University of Maastricht, the first Green Office was opened in 2010 in an effort to put sustainability on the map. Since then, most Dutch universities have opened a Green Office, like the universities in Wageningen, Utrecht and Groningen. At the moment, the Green Office in Maastricht consists of six permanent student employees and thirty volunteers. ‘Apart from creating our own projects and events we mostly want to help students and employees realize their own ideas, for instance by sharing practical information with them’, says Camilo Straatsma, educational coordinator at the Green Office in Maastricht. The Green Office helps people to get in contact with each other. ‘In some cases, different groups within the university work on a comparable project without knowing it’, explains Straatsma. ‘At one point, there were two institutions working on mapping sustainable restaurants and shops.’ Nijmegen can learn a lot from cities like Maastricht, and Sietsma is planning to take advantage of that. ‘We do not want to reinvent the wheel, because there is already a lot of available knowledge out there.’

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