What fish schooling and a website has taught me about sustainability

Friday 29 January 2021

Fish schooling has taught me a great deal about sustainability. So has the process of making a website. From 104 webpages to 12, the University of St Andrews now has all its information on sustainability on a single website. 

Herring Shoal with St Andrews Cathedral in the background. Copyright Tom Ashton, Xelect.

This week we launched our new Sustainability Website. From disorganised piles of information, we have managed to create an encompassing platform for all sustainability matters. A net zero strategy, information on wee walks, and ways of getting involved in environmental sustainability are all gathered in the same place.

However, I’m not here to talk about our shiny new website. I am here to talk about fish.

When fish swim in the same direction in a coordinated manner, they are schooling. Fish school to become resilient, to reduce friction from the surrounding water, and to conserve energy.

I think this says a whole lot about sustainability.

When we stand together and take joint action for a sustainable planet, we become more resilient. When we collaborate and invite people to take action with us, the friction and resistance to change become less. When we work together, we save each other energy.

A sustainable website has, at times, felt far away. 104 different webpages is a lot of content. Despite these feelings, we have – however – succeeded. Strategy and governance, community and university initiatives, and individual and organisational actions are now gathered in the same place. We have made it easier to find information on sustainability and saved ourselves a great deal of energy by doing so in a collaborative manner.

And with that said, I will take the bold step to say that a sustainable St Andrews is not far away. Not if we act more like a school of fish.

I wish you all a good end of the first week of the semester,
Hanna, Sustainability Coordinator, the Environment Team.


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