Campus - 13.03.2020 - 00:00 

St.Gallen Sustainability Week

St.Gallen’s institutes of tertiary education work together to pursue a specific goal – raising people’s awareness of sustainability. From 2-5 March 2020, participants in St.Gallen, Gossau and Rorschach were able to let themselves be inspired and to become actively involved. By student reporter Thomas Tarantini.

13 March 2020. Sustainability – a term whose significance is steadily on the increase, also in Eastern Switzerland. Cooperation between the St.Gallen oikos association and Sustainability Week Switzerland resulted in the St.Gallen Sustainability Week, which took place from 2-5 March 2020. Besides the University of St.Gallen, the two other local institutes of tertiary education, namely St.Gallen University of Applied Sciences (FHSG) and the St.Gallen University of Teacher Education (PHSG) were now also involved in this edition of the project.


Project leader Sonja Hasler explains: “Our project team consisted of seven HSG students, as well as five FHSG and three PHSG students. This is the first time that the HSG’s oikos association has jointly run an event with the FHSG and the PHSG.” The idea for this came from the partner Sustainability Week Switzerland, which also organises this format in other Swiss cities – an experiment which oikos and Sonja, who hails from Eastern Switzerland herself, were pleased to commit to.

Raising people’s awareness of sustainability

The aim of the four-day event was clear: the organisers wanted to raise their fellow students’ awareness of sustainability with regard to sports at the university locations. For them as part of the next generation, this is particularly important, says Sonja, because as students they have more time and opportunities to help shape the development of the world.

Instead of trumpeting mere slogans, the programme of the St.Gallen Sustainability Week focused on personal behaviour, with sports being the centre of attention. All the events on offer pursued the goal of revealing various options for a sustainable lifestyle to the participants. The fact that all the tips that were communicated could be put into practice as easily as possible was regarded as particularly important. A kick-off with badminton player Miranda Wilson about the issue of sustainability in top-class sports was followed by sessions on nutrition, sports equipment and hygiene articles spread over three days.

Talks, workshops und sports activities

Tuesday’s programme consisted of a number of topics, among them sustainable value creation chains in companies, after which participants tried cooking a vegan three-course meal under the guidance of chef Sasa Radovanovic – a highlight which also attracted numerous non-vegan participants. Subsequently, sports enthusiasts listened to nutritionist Antonella Ammann and tried to create their favourite recipes in a more sustainable manner. Bad weather and a low number of participants forestalled the final event of the day, namely an active evening workshop entitled “Plogging” – a Swedish sport which combines picking up litter and jogging.

Wednesday started with a keynote speech on sustainable sportswear before participants were able to devote themselves to upcycling – the art of making new things out of old ones. With the help of old clothes, students of the three universities produced scrunchies and beeswax cloths, which was a challenging and uplifting activity for many.

The St.Gallen Sustainability Week was concluded with events focusing on hygiene. The day started with Vinyasa Flow Yoga session. This was followed by a talk by the American cosmetics producer Dr. Bronner’s and the vegan couple with the eponymous Ben & Anna brand, which is known for its sustainable deodorants. The workshop for home-made cosmetic products such as toothpaste and face cream was yet another highlight; more than 50 applications for 20 places were clear evidence of this. Later, a screening of the film Sustainable concluded the St.Gallen Sustainability Week.

Positive assessment and ideas for the future

Project leader Sonja Hasler’s assessment of the week is positive: “All in all, I’m highly satisfied with the result! There were some hitches, but that’s part of it, particularly with regard to running the event at all the universities involved.” The project team noticed that the association culture, which has deep roots at the HSG, resulted in a situation whereby certain things are regarded as a matter of course. This had an impact on stand activities, which were met with more scepticism elsewhere since they were less part of the daily routine. Also, the registration procedure for individual events would have to be communicated to prospective participants in a more comprehensible manner. In addition, aspects like the PHSG students’ compulsory classroom attendance would have to be taken into consideration to a greater extent.

The experiment with interuniversity cooperation was definitely a success. In particular, Sonja is full of praise for the combination of differing perspectives, which enriched the project. This is the reason why she champions further joint editions. Precisely what the next St.Gallen Sustainability Week will look like and who will be Sonja’s successor, will be decided in May.

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