Societies and sustainability

Joshua Rutt is a Future Trainee Solicitor at Macfarlanes, having recently graduated from the University of Nottingham and the University of Vienna. Joshua led the University of Nottingham Law Society’s net carbon zero campaign and is a member of the Sustainable Recruitment Alliance Student Advisory Board.

Student societies are key stakeholders within the ecosystem of early talent recruitment, and we have a responsibility to take a stand against unsustainable recruitment practices.


When flying to and from Vienna during my year abroad, I would commonly pay to offset my share of the flight’s carbon emissions. This led me to consider why the opportunity to offset emissions is not more widely available, and what further I could do in the fight against climate change. Therefore, I decided to build the foundations of my Vice President manifesto for the University of Nottingham’s Law Society around sustainability goals to reduce our footprint and offset unavoidable carbon emissions.

As a committee, we first considered the emissions that could be ‘ditched’ and ‘switched’ without diminishing our members’ experience. Hundreds of printed brochures were switched for QR codes linked to online resources, saving thousands of pages of printing. Plastic cups, plates and cutlery for events were replaced by reusable alternatives, while paper tickets to events were replaced with e-tickets. Furthermore, our society’s sports kits were switched to an eco-friendlier alternative, now made from 75% recycled materials.

For emissions that couldn’t be switched, including travel to and electricity for our events, we worked with ClimateCare, a carbon offsetting specialist who calculated and then offset our emissions accordingly through socially conscious climate action projects.

Clyde & Co sponsored the law society as our first ever green partner. This entailed covering the costs of the carbon offsetting, alongside funding our investments to switch towards re-usable plates, cutlery and our new sports equipment.

The steps taken to become carbon negative were not drastic, but they had a large tangible impact on how we operate as a society. We also acted in the hope of setting an example that other societies would want to follow, but we know that we can still do more. We must now all take an active role in holding early talent recruiters and other key players in the early talent recruitment sphere to account over their emissions and footprints.

I am therefore excited to be working with the Sustainable Recruitment Alliance in my position on the Student Advisory Board and look forward to seeing the progress made by societies across the country.

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