Socks and shampoo can be part of positive change

Dolly Vellanki, Community & Fashion Manager at the Erasmus Sustainability Hub, is spreading sustainability on campus. She graduated from RSM’s BSc International Business Administration in 2019, and will do the MSc Global Business and Sustainability in 2020. During her bachelor years, she discovered there was a lot of theoretical knowledge about sustainability taught in the classroom, but she missed its practical application. As a member of the Erasmus Sustainability Hub board, she can now use her experience of high tech business and her passion for sustainability to motivate more people to make a difference.

What is it about your effort that makes a positive change?
“The world has seen a shift towards sustainability: it is no longer a choice but a necessity. The Hub hosts a wide range of activities and initiatives to engage as many students as possible, and increase their awareness of solutions and ways to make changes. We share this determination and everyone pitches in in their own way; some students organise a clothing swap, others have led food workshops creating plant-based meals. We also want to bring together students from all kinds of disciplines because they all look at issues from different angles.”

Why do you do it?
“Members of the Hub really drew me in. I’m ‘the odd one out’ with my friends because I care where I shop and about the consequences of my choices. But when I saw everyone at the Hub cared about the same things, I felt like I belonged. We discuss stuff like which shampoo and socks to buy, and I feel less alone. The Hub’s activities really appealed to me too.”

She grew up in Dubai, lived in Tokyo and graduated from high school in Doha. “I’ve always cared about sustainability. I’ve been a vegetarian since I was eight because I love and care for animals. When I looked into it more, I wanted to find more ways to be sustainable. I know technology is really important for business students now, so during my BSc IBA I applied for an internship with a high-tech firm. I worked a lot with engineers on innovation. This is where I saw a ‘cool’ side to sustainability, more specifically in digital justice and security. So I sought out the Hub when I came back to campus.”

How can others get involved in doing something with you – or something like what you’re doing?

“I’d like people to be more aware – and to actively seek out information – about sustainability. You can learn about being sustainable at the Hub and you can build a network that will be useful in the future, in your life after university. I encourage everyone to be a part of it. If you don’t have much time, you can just volunteer for a day or do something small. If you want to know where to buy clothes or where to shop where there’s less plastic, come talk to us. If you have an awesome idea, come and pitch it to us – we could help you make it happen. There hasn’t been an initiative that we’ve turned away, so come talk to us!”