Lina Schwarz – Sustainability Champion

Lina Schwarz is a First Year Master of Chiropractic student at AECC University College. She was elected Sustainability Champion for the University College in October last year.

Ahead of World Environment Day, she tells us more about her plans for helping the AECC UC community to keep sustainability at the front of our minds and shares her top three tips for living more sustainably.

Lina moved to the UK from Germany to study with us. She explains why she wanted to pursue Chiropractic and what her ambitions are for the future:

Interest in sustainability

“I became really interested in sustainability a couple of years ago. I got into it when I first made some changes to my diet, as I became very aware of the impact that meat and dairy have on the planet.

“As I started to do more research, I began to find out more and more about the impact that humans are having on the natural world. I’m really interested in reading everything I can about the environment and how we can reduce our carbon footprint.  

“When the Students’ Union announced they were looking for a Sustainability Champion, my friends encouraged me to apply for the role.

“I think lots of students at AECC University College are really interested in finding out more about sustainability. They might not have the time or energy to do lots of research and reading into it, but they would like to learn more. That’s where I can help!”

Taking action for the planet

“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I’ve mainly focused on setting up and growing the @aecc_sustainability Instagram account this year. I’ve tried to use social media as a means of raising awareness for sharing information about ways that people can be more conscious of the impact they are having on the environment.

“I have posted about a range of different topics that are related to sustainability. In March, for example, I focused on fast fashion and how to be more sustainable when you are shopping for clothing.

“My approach is not to tell people what to do, but instead to share the information that I come across and encourage people to think about it. When I did my first few posts on Instagram, a few students texted me some lovely messages saying they really liked what I was doing and wanting to be involved. That made me really happy.

“I’m trying to encourage small changes on campus that have the potential to grow into big changes. For example, I put up some stickers in the bathrooms on the paper towel dispensers, asking people to just take one if they can. I got some positive feedback from that, which was great.

“During Wellbeing Week here at AECC University College, I worked with the Students’ Union to create a quiz about sustainability.

“Most of the student community live really near campus, so many of us walk or cycle to campus which is great."

Awareness-raising events

“If we weren’t still restricted by the pandemic, I would really like to set up a market where AECC University College students could exchange clothes that they don’t wear anymore and are tired of. I hope this will be something that we can do in the future.

“As soon as it’s possible, it would be great to do more events to raise awareness. I think we would see a good response to these. We’re really lucky to live and study in such a beautiful place, and we want to keep it that way. Pre-Covid, there was a local beach clean which people volunteered to take part in.

“We have some exciting plans for the future. Growing Community is a gardening community, for people who enjoy gardening and want to grow vegetables, but don’t currently have the space to do so. We’re exploring opportunities to collaborate with them here at AECC University College, which is really exciting.

“AECC University College is really open to hearing our suggestions of changes and improvements that we can make to encourage our community to be more sustainable. When I started talking to people here, I realised how many people are really interested in sustainability and keen to make changes.”

Lina’s sustainability tips

“My first tip would be to have a think about your diet. The production of meat and dairy have such a big impact on the environment, so one thing we can do to reduce our carbon footprint is to introduce more plant-based alternatives into what we are eating. If you eat a lot of meat and dairy in a week, you could start to have a couple of days a week when you eat a vegetarian diet.

“My second tip would be to look at what you are buying. This might be clothes and shoes, but also electronics and things for your home. I shared a post on Instagram recently, listing things to think about before making a purchase. It’s a list of questions to ask yourself, such as: do I actually need that? Will I use it more than once? That helps you to stop buying things that you don’t actually need.

“My third tip would probably be around travel – and obviously this is a bit limited by Covid-19 at the moment. But when you feel safe doing so, perhaps you could look at taking the train or the bus instead of taking you car, or a plane for domestic flights.”

Studying abroad

“I’m from Germany and have been living in the UK for two years now. Studying abroad takes you out of your comfort zone and makes you push yourself. It’s obviously been a lot harder than it would normally have been during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I’m really enjoying studying abroad; it’s one of the best decisions I have made. I have really nice housemates and friends and I feel like I have a second family. I love it here.

“I’m going back home after I finish my exams for a couple of weeks. It’s been a little while now since I was able to go home, but I have lots of European friends here and we all decided to stay here together during the pandemic so we weren’t lonely. We had a nice Easter together. I have quite a few German friends here; we’re actually from the same area of Germany but we didn’t know each other before studying together!

“I’m planning to spend the summer here and would like to do some travelling in the UK before another of my friends goes back home.”

Why choose AECC University College?

“I found out about AECC University College from my own Chiropractor in Germany; she studied here as well. She told me a lot about the University College and her experience here. It made me want to study here. I spoke English well already and so it made sense to study in the UK.  

“Chiropractic treatment really helped me and made me want to study it. I think that’s quite common; you meet lots of people here who have had Chiropractic treatment themselves and found it really beneficial.

“When I graduate, I would love to go back home and work there. Every time I go home, I meet up with my Chiropractor and we talk about what I am learning. She invites me to observe in her clinic, which is really interesting.

“You still have so much to learn when you leave University. I think it would be amazing to work in a Chiropractic Clinic like hers, learning from some really good Chiropractors.”

 World Environment Day

Since 1974, World Environment Day has been celebrated every year on 5th June, engaging governments, businesses and citizens in an effort to address pressing environmental issues.

You can find out more about World Environment Day here.

Lina Schwarz

Above: Lina Schwarz