For the second year in a row, six master students organised the Erasmus Sustainability Days this week. With a varied programme, their aim was to inspire students to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle and to show what companies are already doing to make the world a better place.

Something for everyone

“Everyone knows by now that sustainability is important, but many students are still unaware of what they can actually do themselves,” explains Jessie Yang (22), the committee chairperson. “Our goal is to let students know that everyone has a role to play. And that’s also why our slogan is: be part of the change.”

Although it’s only the second time that the Erasmus Sustainability Days were organised, the committee succeeded in enticing a lot of interesting companies to participate in lectures, workshops and the Sustainability Fair. “There’s no individual company we would particularly like to single out, because we’re very proud of the fact that we’ve managed to attract such a variety of companies,” says chairperson Yang.

Lezing MUD jeans Erasmus Sustainability Days foto Aysha Gasanova
Radio Rijnmond interviewt gastspreker Bert van Son, directeur MUD Jeans. Image credit: Aysha Gasanova

Personal story

There was therefore a lot to choose from. EM attended the lecture given by MUD Jeans, a clothing brand that produces, recycles and leases jeans based on the principle of the circular economy. Guest speaker Bert van Son talked about the life cycle of his company, his ambitions and the challenges he encountered. “I particularly enjoyed listening to the details and the personal stories,” says the 24-year-old Global Business & Sustainability master student Felix Johne. “Especially because you normally get to hear more of a marketing story at these kinds of company presentations. This, on the other hand, was authentic and personal.” Master student Sterre Swen, also 24, studying International Management/CEMS, goes on: “Bert’s story was very inspiring. He’s a successful businessman.”

Halfway through the presentation, Radio Rijnmond turned up. The man from the radio took over the proceedings for five minutes, interviewing Bert and a number of students live on the radio. “At first I thought that he’d turned up unannounced, making it all a little uncomfortable,” explains Beatriz Ramos (21), fellow student of Felix, with a smile.

Workshop Nike pitch Erasmus Sustainability Days foto Aysha Gasanova
Studenten pitchen hun idee voor een nieuwe strategie tijdens de workshop van Nike. Image credit: Aysha Gasanova

Hands-on experience

“I really liked it that a Nike trainee from Erasmus University helped run the workshop.”

Vera van Aller

Besides lectures by companies such as MUD Jeans, Samsung and Heineken, there were also workshops by companies like NS and Nike. During the Nike workshop, groups of students spent three quarters of an hour working on devising a strategy for Nike with a focus, naturally, on sustainability. “They tried to make the workshop very interactive, which I certainly found a good approach,” says Roos Imkamp, a 24-year-old Global Business & Sustainability master student.

Vera van Aller (23, Media & Business) agrees: “I really liked it that a Nike trainee from Erasmus University helped run the workshop.” The Erasmus student ran through the mainstays that underpin Nike’s sustainability policy, so that the group could use these as inspiration for their own strategies.

After all the new strategies were pitched at the end of the workshop, it was clear that a bunch of smart people had been working. Two groups of students, for example, came up with the idea of developing a pair of sneakers that can be continuously customised to the wishes of the owners, so that in this way fewer shoes would be thrown away. Who knows, perhaps Nike will even take up one of these ideas.