By Faye Murphy and Aoife Kiernan
Green Week was launched with a ceremony commemorating the 20th anniversary of Trinity’s green week. This year’s theme is “repairing our broken food systems”, chosen by the popular vote in November.
The ceremony began with Michele Hallahan, sustainability advisor to the Office of the Provost. Hallahan spoke of how society’s “broken capitalist economy” has been letting down cultures worldwide. She spoke fondly of the many initiatives and changes that have occurred in the past year, from a change in provost, the election of a vice provost for biodiversity and climate action, as well as a new sustainable travel policy for staff and new green lab initiatives. Although many of these initiatives are due to small people groups, she announced that no action on a university scale without “unified efforts” and “unified passions.”
Sam Foley, the Environmental Officer of TCDSU, gave the student perspective for the event. Foley praised the student-led initiatives currently taking place. She believes that the “desire for social change is self-evident”, especially on a curriculum, divestment and food choice level. She believes that “sustainability is for everyone” that everyone has a different perspective to bring to the table.
Senator David Norris, who was described by Hallahan as a “long-time champion of human rights”, has opened 19 of the 20 green weeks. Norris, who saw the population of earth triple so far within his lifetime, believes that it is vital we continue and maintain the conversation around the climate crisis.
Provost Linda Doyle mentioned that although there is a lot to celebrate, green week reminds us that there is still a lot to do. We have the opportunity to change, but simultaneously, the burden that we must act on or the earth will continue to die in front of us. She believes that Green Week gives us the opportunity to think on a personal and university level of how we can make changes.
Iseult Ward, the co-founder and CEO of FoodCloud, an NGO helping businesses to redistribute food waste to charities, was the next to take the stage. She began with the many disappointing statistics of food waste. Still, Foley mentioned that she is hopeful for the future due to small actions currently taking place and believes young people are the driving force for change. She states that the 140 billion meals that FoodCloud had prevented from ending up in the landfill due to their work would not have been possible without the community of environmental activists. Food is something that brings us together; every culture and community around the world is influenced by its cuisine and food security. Therefore we must inspire and encourage others to make changes to create a better world for us all.
To close the ceremony, Michele Hallahan offered the audience a chance to imagine a world where everyone is fed, where ecosystems are cherished and a world where it is a sovereign right to be a part of nature. She then stated that this is not just a dream, it was a reality in the past, and it can and will be a reality again if we make the appropriate changes. Although these changes “should’ve started 30 years ago”, they must start now. Finally, she stated that we need to stop buying into the marketing that “commodifies nature”, taking up every acre of land and destroying our environments.
Pop-Sci Book Club
The next event of the day was a pop-science book club. The science societies on campus are running a pop-sci book club throughout this semester, and this week it was hosted by the natural science societies: Botsoc, Envirosco and Zoosoc. Held in a cosy room in the atrium, the participating students sat around a table and snacked on some vegan treats while discussing a wide variety of books. Some highly recommended books included Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan and Thor Hansons Hurricane Lizards and Plastic Squid. The discussion ranged from the human biome to the frustrations associated with reading hopeless climate change-related books.
Law Economics and The Environment Panel
The first day of Green Week concluded in an informative panel discussion organised by Envirosoc, Student Economic Review, Lawsoc and Trinity Free Legal Advice Centre. Chaired by Anne Spillan, the Auditor of Lawsoc, this panel was run in a hybrid fashion, as one of the participants, Dr. Andrew Jackson, joined Zoom from France, where he is on sabbatical. Other panellists included Dr. Jackson, an environmental and planning lawyer and a faculty member of UCD, and Dr Surya Roy, the Assistant Professor of Regulatory Law at Trinity College Dublin.
The panellists touched on various topics, from carbon leakage to greenwashing. Dr. Martha O’Hagan-Luffe spoke about the power economic systems have over the environment and how Trinity Student Managed Fund have purchased shares in Irish companies and have plans to attend their AGM’s and ask them questions about their climate goals. Overall the event was uplifting for the audience gave insight into plans for the future.
Tomorrow’s events for Green Week will see discussions in climate well-being, careers in sustainability, a market to buy and sell plants, and many more.