Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
Header image University of Groningen Student Blog

Sustainability Week - learn more about the Green Office and sustainability at the UG

Date:06 October 2022
Members of the Green Office team! From left to right: Malcolm, Merel, Rik, Eline, Irene, Lennart, Francine, Marijke.
Members of the Green Office team! From left to right: Malcolm, Merel, Rik, Eline, Irene, Lennart, Francine, Marijke.

Did you know that it’s Sustainability Week at the University of Groningen next week? From Monday 10 October until Friday 14 October, our Green Office organises lots of activities for you to do that enrich your knowledge on sustainability. You can, for instance, go to a lunch lecture about fair fashion or go clean up our beautiful city. In light of this, we chatted with Francine, Communication Advisor of the Green Office! We wanted to learn more about our Green Office, sustainability at the UG, and the Sustainability Week.

Hi Francine! So, what’s the Green Office all about? 

The Green Office is part of the Sustainability Programme of the University of Groningen and consists of students (we currently have five fantastic student assistants) and staff members. The Green Office coordinates and initiates projects related to sustainability at the University. We inform and inspire students and staff members about how they can act more sustainably and show them why this is important. In addition, we influence policy and business operations to ensure that they become more and more sustainable. Our goal is to make sustainability an integral part of the University and to keep sustainability on the agenda!

In light of the Sustainability Week - what does the UG already do regarding sustainability? Can you give some examples?

Within the UG there are many projects, big and small, that are geared towards making the University more sustainable. You might have seen the new coffee cups that encourage staff and students to use the cup multiple times and to recycle it correctly. Or, think of the Green Subsidy Programme, where study associations can apply for subsidies to make their association more sustainable. Next to projects, there is of course also policy-making and sustainable procurement. The University is, for example, now working on a new sustainable mobility and business travel policy and a new procurement for LED-lights. 

Are there plans in the making or already set in motion to make the UG even more sustainable? Can you give some examples?

In 2021, the new Sustainability Roadmap was approved! The Green Office worked together with UG academics, departments, and faculties to create the Roadmap. It’s a five-year plan for all sustainability goals and ambitions of the University. The goal is to integrate sustainability into the DNA of the university, not only in research & education, but also in business operations. You can think of sustainable ambitions for biodiversity, waste management, mobility, diversity and inclusion and CO2 emissions. We made a visual overview of all ambitions, you can see it here!

When looking at the programme of the Sustainability Week, which activity would you say students should definitely go to and why?

On Wednesday 12 October, we definitely recommend going to the Sustainability Week Lecture - How Looking at Animals Can Change the World: It’s Too Late for Pessimism by forester and naturalist Arjan Postma! While sustainability is not always an optimistic topic and it’s easy to become pessimistic about the effects of climate change and biodiversity loss, Arjan will show us during his lecture that now is the time to take action and that we can learn a lot from looking at animals in order to change the world. Arjan is a great storyteller and can speak from his own experience as a forester. 

We also have a very interesting documentary viewing of ‘The Biggest Little Farm’ with a discussion on Thursday 13 October. Sanderine Nonhebel, professor in environmental sciences, will be there to guide us through the documentary and to discuss topics such as biodiversity and balanced ecosystems.

Are you interested? You can sign up here for the lecture by Arjan Postma, and here for the documentary viewing!

Finally, do you have some tips for students to be more sustainable?

Absolutely! To get started with sustainability and to help students to get through their study time as sustainably as possible, we made an interactive Sustainable Student Guide. In the guide you can not only find tips on food, mobility, furnishing your room, and sustainable hotspots in Groningen, but also information on how to get involved in sustainability at the University. While the guide is easily accessible, we will also share some of our best tips with you here:

  1. Bring your own mug! Although our paper coffee cups are being recycled, it’s even more sustainable to bring your own mug when getting a coffee, hot chocolate or tea at the university.
  2. Are you looking for sustainable shops, cafés, restaurants and initiatives in Groningen? We made a map where you can find the green hotspots of Groningen!
  3. Have you ever thought about digital waste? Somewhere, a server is using energy to store your emails or the content of your social media account. Do a clean-up once in a while and delete anything that you don’t need anymore. It will save a lot of energy if we collectively do this!

Hopefully, this blog has given you a better understanding of what our Green Office does, what the UG does regarding sustainability, and how you can be more sustainable! If you’re curious to know even more about the Green Office, you can take a look at their Instagram. Want to join the Sustainability Week? You can visit this page to learn more about the week’s programme and how to sign up for activities!

About the author


Hiya! I’m Hylke, a Dutch MA English Literature student. People often ask me if I’m Frisian, but sadly I’m not; I just have a Frisian name. I love reading, writing, meeting with friends, and the colour yellow, so much so that I take pictures of every yellow wall I can find!


Loading comments...