Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll recognise the name Extinction Rebellion. Since the beginning of their ‘International Rebellion’ they’ve become renowned for their civil disobedience, unlawful reputation and disruption of cities. Whilst many may not agree with their methods, this kind of radical activism is vital for creating the real change we urgently need to see in policy and legislation. The sad truth is there is only so much we as individuals can do. In becoming vegan, I was able to singlehandedly reduce my individual carbon footprint by up to 73%. Yet, this is not enough when 20 companies are responsible for a third of the carbon emissions of the world. According to Skye Frewin, XR Exeter University’s group representative “If we’re not tackling that then we’re not going to get the drastic reductions we need”.
It’s clear that my individual lifestyle changes – whilst valuable and necessary – are not enough when compared to the impact of such behemoth companies. Therefore, political action that will push through eco-legislation, encourage greener alternatives and raise awareness of the need for environmental sustainability is crucial. However, this is easier said than done. So, I’ve compiled a list of ways you can get involved as a student here in Exeter.
Firstly, the quickest way to get involved in eco activism is by joining a group or society focused on this issue. This is a great way of learning more about the situation, meeting like-minded people and getting stuck in without having to organise anything.
Some noteworthy groups include:
Extinction Rebellion Exeter University
Many become nervous when XR is mentioned due to its radical protest methods, however, XR Exeter University’s group are keen to stress that they welcome any help and that members do not need to commit to extreme approaches. The group has four subsections: Media and Messaging, Action and Logistics, Art and Outreach and Regenerative Culture and Welfare Support. This means that you will be placed where you are most comfortable and where your expertise will best be put to use. If you are interested in joining, there is no better time because the group has only recently started. Therefore, by joining now you can help mould both the agenda for the future and how this can be achieved. They have a general meeting on 6th November at 5pm with their first protest, a funeral march, in the planning stages. More information is available at https://www.facebook.com/XRExeterUniversity/.
Amnesty International Exeter
Amnesty International is a human rights organisation and as such, the campaign run by the University’s group is primarily focused on climate justice. They are currently petitioning against indigenous rights abuses and are also organising a clothes swap for next term. Find out how you can get further involved at https://www.facebook.com/exeteruniamnesty/.
Be The Change Exeter
This is a group whose sole focus is on the environment and sustainability. They are running a number of campaigns, including the Veg Share, an Ecobricks project and a petition for the University to abolish single-use plastic cups. They also have plans for future campaigns such as lobbying for more accessible paper recycling bins across campus and developing their food focused campaign alongside a design competition for the new university huskups (cups made from rice husks). Find more details at https://www.facebook.com/btcexeter/.
Enactus is a social enterprise group that aims to better lives through entrepreneurial action, focusing on creating business ventures that are socially and environmentally beneficial. They host and contribute to a number of useful events such as a clothes swap and environmental talks. Visit their Facebook page to see more https://www.facebook.com/exeterenactus/.
Tree Charter Branch
This is a group created by Skye Frewin, a student at Exeter, and is associated with the Woodland Trust. The Woodland Trust has pledged to plant a million trees by 30th November and therefore, during National Tree Week (23rd Nov – 1st Dec), the Tree Charter Branch will be running a number of events in collaboration with various societies including RAG, UNICEF, Amnesty International and others to plant trees on campus. I recommend this group to those who may be hesitant or nervous about joining a society but who nevertheless want to help a campaign. It only requires a couple of days commitment, where you can get involved and consider whether it’s a fit for you. It’s also not affiliated or tied to a specific university society if that is a concern for anybody. To find out more look here https://www.facebook.com/ExeterStudentBranch/.
UNICEF is currently running a campaign focused on the illegal quality of air that hundreds of children across the UK are enduring; they have also hosted a number of environmentalism events and pushed the Divest protest in the Forum. Get involved here https://www.facebook.com/exeterunicef/.
And finally, THE NEXT GLOBAL STRIKE IS 29TH NOVEMBER! MAKE SURE YOU GET INVOLVED!
– Abi Smuts