Sustainability officer candidate Anne-Marie Hamfeldt: “Even a small difference is good.”

8 mins read

As President of patches4peace, Anne Marie Hamfeldt is no stranger to environmental issues, but she now takes on a new challenge by running for Sustainability Officer at Stirling.

Candidates in this position must act as the face of sustainability for the Stirling student union. They represent the Union’s environmental campaigns, work toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and define sustainability for the student body.

Hamfeldt, a third-year Conservation Biology and Management student, explained to Brig that her definition of sustainability was a simple one:

“To live in a way in which does not negatively impact the future generations,” Hamfeldt said, adding that this was easier said than done.

“I think that’s very hard at this current climate,” said the Tennessee native.

This idea is at the core of Hamfeldt’s campaign, believing that small acts of change drive the climate movement. She admitted that this was one of the biggest reasons for her decision to run:

“I really wanted to do something; I know that the chance of making a huge difference is probably pretty small. But even a small difference is good. If everyone can make small differences, it’s better than one person making huge difference.”

Education and Biodiversity

Part of Hamfeldt’s mission to make small differences is her drive for education. If elected, Hamfeldt explained that she would push for educational talks to help increase awareness of environmental issues targeted at people with varying levels of understanding.

One of Hamfeldt’s manifesto pledges is to help to improve the university’s biodiversity on campus with the help of existing environmental groups. Although this has been met with some pushback from the university who prefers “to make it cultivated and pretty” according to Hamfeldt. The patches4peace President argued that this could be changed with more awareness:

“One thing is to push for more awareness of why that’s bad. I think that if people are more aware and say ‘Oh, we have red squirrels here. We have hedgehogs here, we have deer,’ then they’d be more interested in saving those photogenic species.”

Plant-based union and food-waste initiatives

Stirling hit national headlines in November by becoming the first UK students union to pledge 100% plant-based catering by 2025.

Although Hamfeldt said she supported the 50% target by the 23/24 academic year, Hamfeldt believed that further action might prove inaccessible to many students:

“But I think there are a lot of health issues that need to be taken into account. Especially when people have coeliac disease, then you’ve eliminated a lot of options for them. I know people who’ve had iron deficiencies, and they’ve had to switch back to meat even though they were vegetarian for years. So I don’t agree with the full vegan thing,” she admitted.

Hamfeldt explained that rather than having a blanket restriction on meat products, questions need to be asked about where resources are coming from:

“Are the products from local produce? Are they still being shipped to mainland Europe? Are they tropical fruits, which can’t be grown anywhere nearby? So, I would rather look at the overall carbon missions than just one item at a time,” explained Hamfeldt.

She also highlighted the issue of food waste on campus. Saying that the ‘Too Good to Throw’ initiative had been a step in the right direction:

“I really want to instate that at every single restaurant on campus. I’d love to be able to campaign for more restaurants in Stirling to be able to have the app [Too Good To Go] as an option… One thing is to have microwaves where people can at least cook their own food. Those sorts of things make it more accessible.”

Recycling on campus

An important part of Hamfeldt’s campaign is her commitment to reducing food waste on campus. Writing in her manifesto Hamfeldt pointed to a number of measures she wants to implement to tackle this problem:

“The university catering outlets are notorious for throwing endless amounts of food away every night when they should be donating to the campus community fridge. The fridge should be stocked constantly and food on campus should be affordable to all… Each accommodation should be provided with compost bins, and all catering outlets composting food waste.”

When asked about whether it is realistic to demand compost bins for every accommodation when Brig found last year that students in lower rented accommodation were not provided with recycling bins; Hamfeldt explained that before anything happened, we needed to make sure our waste was being recycled at all:

“I remember last year I was living in Spittal Hill and we would see both of the recycling and the regular trash be thrown into the same truck. . And so I’d rather not focus on getting the bins if it’s just going to be this sort of greenwashing effect of ‘you think you recycling?”

“I know that even if I can only move an inch in a better direction, it’s better than not moving at all.”

When asked why she thought people should vote for her as sustainability officer, Hamfeldt stressed the importance for students to vote at all:

“I think voting in general is more important. Like even if you don’t vote for me, vote in general because having a sustainability officer in general is what matters,” she said.

But when pushed to say why specifically students should vote for her, Hamfeldt candidly said:

“I give a s**t. Honestly, I really do give a s**t. I want there to be something better. I know that even if I can only move an inch in a better direction, it’s better than not moving at all. Like the fact that the sustainability officer has been vacant for the last couple of months. I’d rather it be moved forward just a little bit.”

You can learn more about Anne Marie’s campaign by reading her manifesto here or by following her on Instagram uos_annemarieforsustainability.

Voting opens on Tuesday, February 28 at 10am and closes Thursday, March 2 at 5pm.

Featured Image Credit: Anne Marie Hamfeldt.

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Film and Tv Editor at Brig Newspaper. Currently studying Journalism and English at the University of Stirling

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