Zeena Sa’Di is a final year law student, and one of the founders and project leaders of Green Walkers, a student-led volunteering project that goes around the Bloomsbury area in groups to pick up litter and promote pollution reduction. She spoke to us about why she started the project, what it’s been like starting something from scratch, and what she’s got out of it!
I started this project because I was walking home and I realised there was a lot of litter in the streets. I thought “how can I make a difference here?”; I could just pick it up and put it in the trash myself, but if only I did that, it wouldn’t make a big difference. So I started looking for litter-picking groups in the local area, but there weren’t many that involved students or were close to UCL. I started thinking about how useful it would be to start one at UCL, as students are becoming more and more environmentally aware. I went on my year abroad, but was regularly thinking about setting up this project while I was away.
We currently do litter-picking walks around Warren Street, Bloomsbury, and Somers Town, so that people can actually see the difference when they are walking around the area they’re in every day. That’s why we wanted to do something more action based, rather than holding talks; those are useful, but we wanted people to be actively able to make a difference.
We’ve also been going on trips and workshops around recycling. We invited representatives from a waste management and recycling company to talk to us about how the system works, and what can and can’t be recycled, as a lot of people don’t know that, for instance, coffee cups are not recyclable. We recently went on a trip to a recycling plant to see how it is all carried out: it was an eye-opening experience that made our volunteers realise the urgency of plastic pollution.
Starting the project was really scary to start with, because I wasn’t sure if people would want to join us, especially as it was cold outside! But I was shocked by the number of people who were interested! We have over eighty people signed up to our newsletter, which is far more than we were expecting. This is all thanks to the dedication of our team of project leaders. Our walks usually have around ten people and it’s been really nice to see how people enjoy coming back, and it’s great to meet new people – not just to talk about the difference we can make, but also about each other’s lives! We couldn’t have done this without our amazing volunteers! I think students and our generation in general are more affected by what’s happening to the environment, and are also more aware of it than previous generations.
I would like to see the next project leaders expand our project further, and hopefully, get more people involved, as I think we’re making a real difference!
If Zeena's story has got you feeling keen and green, why not check out Green Walkers and get involved! And because there are lots of ways to help our planet, check out all our environmental opportunities on our directory.
Want to start your own Student-led Volunteering Project? Find out more and share your ideas with us here!