Arc @ UNSW – Sustainability

Bikes, organic veggies, recycling ... Arc helps you stay sustainable.

BY Charlene Goulesque


Arc is the student organization of the University of New South Wales. This rich network of clubs and societies participates in making life more fun and attractive at the university. Some of its programs even support better practices towards sustainable living.

Mitchell McBurnie has now been working for Arc @ UNSW for more than four years. He is Arc Membership & Communications Manager, also involved in various activities hosted by the organization – such as events, wellness and social sport programs.
“We at Arc see our role as embodying the values of our students and creating an environment where students can pursue what they want, rather than advocating explicitly,” says Mitchell, always working on the improvement of both student life and services. For this purpose, he even discussed two weeks ago with people in similar positions at New York University and Columbia University.
Mitchell explains that Arc really cares about nature and the environment.
However, Arc sustainability programs are a bit different from the Fossil Free UNSW and the UNSW Environment Collective. Indeed, these two groups have the distinction of being independent because of their own elected bodies to defend their interests. Other groups that are doing their part for the planet include for example Thoughtful Foods, UNSW Textbook Exchange, and Food For All UNSW.
On the UNSW campus, some local producers grow fresh produce. Mitchell says that at the end of the quarter, they cook what they
have harvested.
He adds: “Every Tuesday and Thursday, there is Bike-ology where you can come and repair your bike. Our stationery recycling centre distributes thousands of pens and books to students. EReuse repairs electronic devices and gives them to the inhabitants of the community. We also have an army of volunteers that allows non-profit organizations in Sydney to offer our students the opportunity to get involved. Many non-profit organizations are local environmental groups like bush regeneration”.
Volunteering with Arc is an excellent opportunity to increase one’s skills, something beneficial for the present and future of students.
Let us recall that Arc also offers leadership opportunities (especially with its Leadership Labs) and that the organization rewarded some of its exemplary volunteers – See the Arc Outstanding Volunteer Award. All this can provide you with a competitive advantage since employers
love it.

With Arc, you can build your future career, make the world a better place, and make new friends with common affinities and aspirations. Thus, there are plenty of reasons to join one or more of the groups proposed by the student community. Besides, everyone is super friendly and welcoming there!
The first Sustainability Officer has just been appointed at Arc!
His name is Miles Portek. His mission is to integrate sustainable practices into every action of the student organization.
“In the last month, he has made Arc a registered drop-off point for batteries, printer cartridges and more. He set up the mug exchange at The Whitehouse and has been recycling some of our bigger pieces of signage that previously went straight to landfill.” – tells Mitchell.
What else could be improved by Arc?
Mitchell believes that there is potential to upscale what Arc does in the area of sustainability.
The “next big challenge will be eliminating single-use plastics” from the everyday life – See article from The New York Times: 9 Ways to Cut Down on Plastic.

Arc could also reproduce things that other student organizations do, like “clothing repair stations, going entirely paperless.”
Mitchell adds that “there is a university in the USA where students leaving college donate the stuff from their room to charity, or to the next round of college students.” Himself has had an idea for “UNSW carpooling coordinated by Arc,” but he doesn’t know it could work.
The Arc Membership & Communications Manager invites all UNSW students to share their ideas for implementing new responsible practices in the university: “I personally also tend to think that sustainability embodies just a better mindset for life – sustainable relationships, sustainable businesses – these things make us nicer people and stronger communities.”
Does Arc have a partnership with UNSW Sustainability?
There is no formal partnership between Arc programs and UNSW Sustainability. But Mitchell affirms that they usually agree with everything they do.

By 2020, the UNSW campus will be provided entirely with solar energy. “Having UNSW as an entirely renewable campus is an exciting prospect. We meet with them and cooperate with them. UNSW has a long history of working with students on sustainability projects like drink refill stations and food waste bins, so that sets an exciting precedent.” – concludes the Arc Membership & Communications Manager.