Sustainability Champions share their success stories

Sustainability Champions share actions they're taking to embed sustainability at the University. Actions include spreading the word about sustainability, planting wildflowers, promoting food growing, and tackling waste in a multitude of ways.

Sustainability Champion case studies

Sustainability Champions are part of a supportive network of staff and students learning how to make positive changes at the University in response to the climate crisis and global Sustainable Development Goals.

We invited Sustainability Champions to submit case studies covering actions and projects they have been working on. We continue to welcome submissions to help share best practice. Find out how to submit a case study (prize draw now closed).

We have highlighted which Sustainable Development Goals the case studies contribute to. The actions that Sustainability Champions take all contribute to the clear focus on Social and Civic Responsibility in the University's Strategy 2030.

Sign up to be a staff Sustainability Champion Sign up to be a student Sustainability Champion


StudentMedAID for International Need

Student charity

We stumbled across Sustainability Champions when we were  looking for similar endeavours and decided to join as it resonates with our aims. Joining in the network was an amazing opportunity as we gained access to events and newsletters which boost our knowledge of sustainability. We were also able to network, exchange ideas with and support those with similar interest and drive. Furthermore, we were able to gain funding to support our cause as well as invaluable insights and acknowledgement from various department which further fuelled our desire to make an impact.

Student MedAID
Sustainability Champion case study photo - MedAID

Student MedAID is a charity that collects unwanted and out of date medical equipment from hospitals in Edinburgh and throughout the UK. They then coordinate redistribution to under-resourced medical institutions abroad through medical students on electives, humanitarian health workers and other NGOs. They not only aim to increase the accessibility of healthcare in places where it is most needed but increase the sustainability of the NHS.


Visit the Student MedAID website

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

3: Good health and wellbeing, 12: Responsible consumption and production, 17: Partnerships for the goals

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3: Good health and wellbeing
Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12: Responsible consumption and production
Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 17: Partnerships for the goals


Seed Sprout Change, Edinburgh College of Art (ECA)

Student project

Design has a role to play in raising awareness of the important social and environmental issues we face today and in the future. It can also be used to facilitate discussions between stakeholders, and create not only sustainable solutions but regenerative ones.

We heard about the network through a fellow class member in our Design for Change Masters programme. We follow SRS on Instagram and enjoy the sustainability tips and initiatives being shared by others. It highlights how we are all striving for sustainable outcomes.

Seed Sprout Change
Seed sprout change

Seed Sprout Change has been reconnecting individuals with nature during the recent lockdown by planting seeds and regrowing vegetables. This provides an opportunity to learn more about nature and its life cycles, and to share knowledge with others. The project also highlights current issues in everyday systems such as food, livelihoods and the value of land.


Follow Seed Sprout Change on Instagram

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

2: Zero hunger, 3: Good health and wellbeing, 12: Responsible consumption and production, 15: Life on land

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2: Zero Hunger
Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3: Good health and wellbeing
Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12: Responsible consumption and production
Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15: Life on land


Holyrood Campus stationery recycling

Peter Buckley

I heard about the network through previous involvement with SRS (completing the ‘Be Sustainable – Advanced’ course) and other campus initiatives. I decided to join because it would give me opportunities to meet like-minded people across campus, and become inspired to get involved in other initiatives. The experience has been extremely positive so far – at the networking events, I find myself thinking “That sounds interesting – How can I get involved?!” after every single conversation I have with other students and members of staff! Many of the ideas I wanted to get off the ground are on hold for now, but there are plenty of other things to get my teeth into until University buildings reopen.

Peter BuckleyCentre for Open Learning (COL)
Peter Buckley

Holyrood Campus' stationery recycling project has successfully diverted resources that would normally end up in general waste into reuse or recycling. Over the course of a month, an entire office was filled with the collected materials, including paper, overhead transparencies, wire trays, pens, pencils, scissors, and suspension files. Approximately 1,000 pens (ball-point, whiteboard, flipchart, and permanent pens) were tested and sorted; working pens were redistributed and used pens were recycled.


Find out about more about waste reduction at the University


Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

12: Responsible consumption and production

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12: Responsible consumption and production


Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) recycling hub

Karine Dumas

Sustainability has always been an interest of mine.

When I joined my current team, it became part of my duties so I could finally put it in action!

I wanted to try to improve the circular economy in ECA and go further than the basics planned by the waste department. We secured a small budget and all that was left was the fun of planning and setting everything up!

Karine DumasEdinburgh College of Art Estates
ECA recycle hub

The ECA Recycle Hub was set up in February 2020. The Hub has been very popular, with the snack packets and battery recycling bins filling up after only a month. Karine is looking out for new free recycling programmes on offer, so they can add even more boxes to the Hub.


Find out more about the recycling hub

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

12: Responsible consumption and production

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12: Responsible consumption and production


Reducing Plastic Waste in a Microbiology Laboratory, Roslin Institute

Dr. Amy Pickering

I heard about becoming a Sustainability Champion as an SRS newsletter subscriber. It sounded like a great initiative to encourage both staff and student members to get more actively involved in developing sustainable solutions throughout the University. This encouraged me to take on a lab sustainability project, alongside my colleague Joana Alves, to reduce the amount of single-use plastic we use on a day-to-day basis. It’s also been useful to be part of a network of staff members who are interested in sustainability and to learn about what other Champions are doing.

Dr. Amy PickeringRoslin Institute
Amy Pickering

By implementing a decontamination station, Amy's group has been able to save over 1,500 plastic tubes per month, leading to a saving of 43kg of biohazard waste per month. Over the course of a year, this would equate to reducing their laboratory waste by 516kg and saving 20,000 plastic tubes. This reduction in tubes would save £1,390 annually.

The group hope to encourage others to evaluate how they can reduce their laboratory plastic use by publishing their findings. They are waiting to hear if the publication will be accepted in a peer-review journal.


Find out more about lab plastics

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

12: Responsible consumption and production

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12: Responsible consumption and production

Drummond street wildflower planting

Ben Murphy

I heard about the network through the School of Geosciences adverts and attended the initial launch event last semester. I am  a passionate environmentalist and wanted to learn about affecting change on a small scale and how best to impact/influence others (both colleagues and tutees). I enjoyed the events put on by the network, especially the ‘communicating sustainability’ workshop and was involved with the student-led audit of University of Edinburgh’s SRS initiatives. It has been nice to be part of a network of like minded staff and students and I have enjoyed the opportunity to hear differing perspectives on sustainability issues.

Ben MurphyHuman Geography MScR, School of Geosciences
Ben Murphy

Ben and others planted bee-bombs, sunflowers and wildflowers to contribute to the biodiversity of green areas around the Geography building on Drummond Street. This brought people together to take small-scale local action in planning and planting.

Prior approval from Estates is required. Projects can be removed if deemed to be causing an operational issue.


Find out more about biodiversity on campus

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

15: Life on land

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15: Life on land


Centre for Open Learning (COL) and Education sustainability noticeboards

Kitty Dooley

I became an Energy Coordinator to begin with which then led on to becoming a Sustainability Champion for my department. I have learnt a huge amount from the Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability, from how we can be more sustainable at work, and at home. It has pushed me to find out more about sustainability in my own community, which in turn can be communicated with others. I particularly enjoy the Conscious Cinema films evenings, and working towards the Sustainability Awards. I have taken a number of Sustainability courses through Future Learn about Fashion and  Climate change: Solutions to continue this learning.

Kitty DooleyCentre for Open Learning (COL) and Education, Holyrood Campus
Kitty Dooley

The sustainability noticeboards that Kitty set up help colleagues to become aware of useful sustainability information and opportunities. Examples include where to recycle beauty products, information about local beach cleans and locations of recycling facilities in the building.


Find out more about what staff can do to be more sustainable

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

12: Responsible consumption and production, 14: Life below water, 15: Life on land

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 12: Responsible consumption and production
Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14: Life below water
Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 15: Life on land

The Centre for Open Learning and the Roslin Institute participate in the Sustainability Awards - find out how you can too