Act Local, Think Global

Tell us your ideas and initiatives for Sustainability at the University of Sydney

Each person who uses our campuses has a unique perspective on how the University could be more sustainable, and we want to hear your ideas.

On our ideas wall you can vote for ideas already submitted, add comments to existing ideas, or add a new idea (and watch the votes roll in). Currently doing something in your own community and would like to see it on campus, drop by our "What are you doing?" campaign. Get started by logging in with your Unikey on the upper-right of this page.

If you want further information on the development of the Sustainability Strategy, check out our SharePoint site or email us at

The University's size in both physical footprint and community means we can have a real impact in building sustainable campuses. What are the ways we can engage our world-leading research, education and grassroots action to create a more sustainable University?


Making Effective use of Rain Water to Solve Water Crises

One of the biggest problems that needs to be addressed these days is water crisis. In fact it can be considered as the biggest problem since it already started to affect people among the world. More than a billion people do not have access to safe drinking water. More than half the population do not have access to adequate sanitation. At least 3-4 million people die every year of water related diseases. More than half... more »


Reducing waste and our contribution to landfill

Getting recycling bins for soft plastics and clean lab waste

Labs generate a lot of waste (eg soft plastic packaging from deliveries, batteries, foam eskies from deliveries). There are companies that will recycle these items (eg Cleanaway, Redcycle, Kimberley Clark, Terracycle, Expanded Polystyrene Australia, Foamex). Some of these companies provide recycling bins and a pickup service, so it would be fantastic to partner with these companies so that we could recycle this waste... more »

Energy and emissions footprint

Conference flights

Stop prioritising the attendance of endless international conferences as a measure of academic influence and success. Thousands of flights are taken annually by academics attending conferences when a video link would often do just as well. Air travel is one of the greatest contributors to global warming. Collegiality and social networking opportunities for academics should be developed locally, not at the cost of flights... more »



More plant based options on campus

An Oxford study found that adopting a plant based diet is the single biggest thing one can do to reduce their environmental impact, reducing their carbon footprint up to 73%. Harvard, a leading institution, has planned to focus on promoting plant based food as a part of their commitment to reducing their environmental impact, with Cambridge eliminating red meat on their campus altogether. A plant based diet has also been... more »


Reducing waste and our contribution to landfill

Handshowers in Toilets.

The only drawback of first world countries. Why waste a kilometer of toilet paper when one can send all the dirt to oblivion with a small amount of high pressure water from a hand-shower or hand-sprout and get a cleaner area at the same time.

Wipes + dustbin or a gel like 'Satu' would promote this too.


Reducing waste and our contribution to landfill

Keep Cup Share Program

Monash University has a Keep Cup share program in which you can freely take a keep cup, use it to buy your coffee, and return it once you have finished using it, and people are simply hired to wash the cups at the end of each day. The program is obviously based on trust so the cups aren't stolen, but perhaps specially printed cups exclusive to the share program could mitigate this problem.


Reducing waste and our contribution to landfill

Cloth Hand Towels

Paper hand towels can create a lot of waste especially when people use them liberally. Other universities such as the University of Auckland have implemented continuous cloth hand towels which are washable and reusable.


Reducing waste and our contribution to landfill

More Recycling on Campus

There are two issues with recycling on campus: first, that there are very few recycling bins on campus. From what I remember, there are only one or two outside on Eastern Avenue. Matching recycling bins 1:1 with general waste bins would make it more accessible and easier for students to consider recycling when they throw away their rubbish. The second issue is that myself and a few other people have seen rubbish cleaners... more »


Energy and emissions footprint

Outdoor pavilions and COLAs

Our campus is overflowing with students looking for somewhere to go between classes for self-study, group work or just hang out. On shady days they hit the lawns, but often it is too hot for that and people cram into libraries and lobbies. We have little outdoor shade on campus. We could provide more shaded sitting spaces. In particular covered bench and table areas with wifi would absorb people who want to do some light... more »


Biodiversity and landscape

Introduce edible food plants across campus

There's a big push in some suburbs for verge gardens, taking back lawn space that sucks up water and doesn't provide habitats for animals and insects, and planting with native plants, herbs, vegetables and fruit trees that are available to the local community. The University has magnificent gardens with well planned plantings but I'd love to see edible options that would encourage students, staff and visitors to pick... more »



Sustainable development for students

It would be good if there were more student volunteer/job positions that teach other students or staff of sustainable practices. Maybe we could start a group that builds a self-sustainable garden (where cafes or shops on campus can collect their fresh veggies from), have more research projects available for undergrads and postgrads about sustainability, have regular sustainable/eco-friendly events.


Energy and emissions footprint

First class train travel instead of economy plane travel

When I was at another University the university encouraged people to choose first class train travel and stay an extra day instead of quick plane travel in cramped economy. It was good for the environment, and reduced stress as people took the slow approach and took in the journey and not just the destination. more »


Energy and emissions footprint

Flight shame


Reducing waste and our contribution to landfill

Appoint an 'Environment Champion' in each department/team

In line with the Wellness Champion idea this is an opportunity for to single out a person to take on a leadership role. Co-ordinating local initiatives, communicating about and helping put into action ideas that will make a difference with the support of their team. This will have rewards for the individual, the team and the environment. Allocate a budget to this initiative which can be applied for to ensure there is... more »


Reducing waste and our contribution to landfill

Sign the No Plastics Pledge

The City of Sydney already have this in place both internally and for events, and 50 other organisations/businesses have as well. UTS have gotten rid of single use plastic in their food court. "The City of Sydney has taken a platinum pledge, committing to phasing out 7 single-use items in its buildings, at its own venues and at events within our area. The City will eliminate or reduce the use of: bottled water plastic... more »