07 February 2020

The LiU Student Secondhand project run by student society Navitas has been awarded the LiU Environmental Prize, in the thirteenth year of the competition. The group has set up a second-hand system for the reuse of student furniture.

A delighted project group for LiU Student Secondhand: Eva Vollmer, Anna Björklund, Nora Bastida Agote, Helena Olow and Wilma Svensson. Charlotte Perhammar

When students end their courses and move out of their accommodation, the demand for used furniture and other home furnishings is low. The demand doesn’t become significant until the start of the next term, when new students arrive and find somewhere to live.
A group from the Navitas student society noticed that this was happening. During the past year, the group has worked with everything from the initial idea and project plan to launch and operation of what became LiU Student Secondhand, a service that forms the basis for a more circular consumption of student furniture. A survey carried out by the group showed that one third of students had thrown furniture away that they were unable to sell, which means an unnecessary waste of natural resources and a negative impact on the climate. The work has been carried out in collaboration with Återbruket, a well-established group at LiU for the reuse of office furniture and equipment.

Vice-Chancellor Helen Dannetun was delighted to award the project group their prize and diploma at a recent ceremony.

What’s your reaction to winning the LiU Environmental Prize?
“I’m so proud”, says Eva Vollmer, one of the prize winners. “And it’s just amazing! We have done something that makes a difference, and that is simply great”

A more eco-friendly LiU

The LiU Environmental Prize has been awarded each year since 2007. The prize is awarded in alternate years to an employee and to a student or student organisation. The prize was inaugurated to promote the environmental work that is done at the university and to stimulate discussion around environmental issues. The prize is awarded each year to an individual or group who has done something during the year to increase LiU’s eco-friendliness.

The prize includes a cash award of SEK 5,000. What are you going to do with the money?
“So far, most of the money has gone to marketing”, says Eva Vollmer. “What we need to do is look in more detail into transport of furniture. Or maybe invest in a bank-card reader, because international students usually don’t have Swish. Maybe we’ll organise and buy the material for an ‘upcycling workshop’, where furniture can be renovated.”

You’ve been in operation for a few months. How has it worked out?
“Just great! A lot of furniture has come in, more than we expected. And a lot of people have bought stuff as well, and people have been dropping in every time we open,” says Eva Vollmer. “Co-workers at the university have come in and ask whether they can pass furniture on to us. And of course they can. But only students can buy furniture here.”

How did you come on the idea with reusing student furniture?
“I had some friends who were taking international master’s programmes, and found it difficult to get rid of their furniture when they graduated”, says Eva Vollmer. “So I started to think that there should be a place where furniture could be stored until new students arrive. I got involved with Navitas where I could gather a group that could work on the project. When we made contact with the LiU Återbruket project for the reuse of office furniture, well, that solved the problem of where to store the stuff.”

The project group for LiU Student Secondhand consists of Eva Vollmer, Anna Björklund, Nora Bastida Agote, Malin Andersson, Helena Olow, Wilma Svensson, Sara Nordin and Josefine Kildén. (Malin Andersson, Sara Nordin and Josefine Kildén were not present when the photo was taken.)

The jury’s citation:
“The project group for LiU Student Secondhand has set the spotlight on the waste of resources that has arisen due to the mismatch between supply and demand for student furniture that arises between terms. The group has carried out the project from idea to reality and subsequent refinement, in open dialogue and collaboration with LiU. The students have shown an amazing commitment to the idea. The result is a significantly more sustainable management of student furniture and other fittings, leading to better use of natural resources and a lower impact on the climate. The initiative is an excellent example of innovative entrepreneurship that superbly promotes the circular economy."

Other projects among those nominated that deserve to be mentioned for important initiatives into a more sustainable student life at LiU are:

Klimatstudenterna: for organising a petition on campus to raise awareness of how important it is that all students on all programmes receive sustainability teaching.

Andreas Ahlander: for organising “plogging” (a combination of jogging and picking up litter) in the nursing section, drawing attention in this way to the problem of litter.

Linnea Sörman/Norrköpings akademiska förening för idrott (Naffi): for the work to increase the eco-friendliness of the operations and becoming the first student society at LiU to be awarded the “Grön sektion” diploma.

Translated by George Farrants

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