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Alexandra Starks: Sustainability Awards auditor experience

Alexandra Starks reflects on her experience as an auditor for the Sustainability Awards at FloWave and the Institute for Academic Development.

As an undergraduate in international studies, I spent a lot of time thinking about issues related to sustainable development. Now, as an MSc student in global health, I still consider sustainability issues: a healthy environment contributes to a healthy population. However, both of my programmes put a definite focus on environmental issues in the developing world, and both were more interested in policy creation than anything else.

So, when I saw the opportunity to get involved with the Department for Social Responsibility & Sustainability through the Sustainability Awards, I jumped at the chance. Not only did it give me the opportunity to learn more about sustainability in a very different context, but I got the chance to be trained to conduct environmental audits, and actually put that training into practice!

Aside from the useful skills that I picked up, being an auditor gave me the chance to visit departments that I never would have seen, and interact with staff in a way that I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to otherwise. During my audits, I made my first trip to King’s Buildings, and got an insider tour of the amazing FloWave facility. Then, I got to visit the Institute for Academic Development, and found out how the staff there are making their student workshops more environmentally friendly.

Although the Sustainability Awards are designed to get University departments involved and learning about how they can be more sustainable in their practices, I think I learned just as much as they did. The Department’s willingness to let students take the lead and conduct these audits makes the whole experience hugely valuable; being an auditor gave me a ground-level perspective on ways to implement sustainable practices, but it also made me more aware of things happening outside of my little corner of George Square, and even prouder of the community that exists here at Edinburgh.

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