Front Quad of Lincoln College, the walls covered in bright green ivy


Sustainability at Lincoln and Green Impact

Beatrice McWilliams

  • Green Impact Project Assistant
Wildflowers in front of Library

Sustainability is increasingly at the forefront of all of our minds, and it is clear that there are changes that we can all make to decrease our environmental impact. However, this is a difficult task at an organisational level, where it can be especially hard to know where to start. At Lincoln, working with the programme ‘Green Impact’ is helping the college to continue taking steps towards a smaller environmental footprint.

Green Impact is a programme run by the National Union of Students aiming to support environmentally and socially sustainable practice within organisations such as universities. They provide a toolkit made up of a range of actions organised into sections such as Waste and Biodiversity which have been tailored to Oxford colleges and departments by the University’s Environmental Sustainability team. At the end of the year, the points achieved from completing the actions are tallied up and awards are given out.

A Green Impact team at Lincoln was set up in 2021, and the hard work of this group led to Lincoln receiving a silver award. This year, the Green Impact team is hoping to surpass this, while building a basis for long-term changes. The team is made up of Lincoln’s sustainability coordinator (Peter Nitsche-Whitfield), JCR and MCR Environment & Ethics representatives, me as a project assistant, and help from a number of other students and staff members.

As the project assistant, my goal is to support the team members through taking on tasks from the Green Impact toolkit and collecting evidence for the auditor process. I am particularly interested in biodiversity and so far I have mainly focused on the parts of the toolkit related to this. For instance, I have worked with Lincoln’s Head Gardener, Mike Hawkins, to find ways to encourage biodiversity, in addition to the many actions he’s already taking such as leaving log piles to support invertebrates and maintaining the wildflower meadow by the library. With the UK being one of the most nature depleted countries, it is important that biodiversity is promoted where possible to support the populations of native species and provide peaceful environments for people to enjoy. Despite Lincoln’s urban location and small size, a surprising range of wildlife can be supported here by gardening with nature in mind, from blackbirds and wrens foraging in the flower beds, to bumblebees feeding on the hellebore flowers in Grove quad.

Next term, our team will come together to collect evidence for all of the actions we have taken over the year to improve sustainability and submit this for auditing. This will allow us to reflect on what went well this year and plan for further work next year.

The benefits of the Green Impact programme - in bringing together students and staff to take action to make Lincoln more sustainable - have been clear to me through volunteering as a project assistant during the past year. I hope to be able to bring this programme to my own college, Hertford, and apply some of the great actions that have been taken at Lincoln there too.

Find out more about Green Impact’s work at Oxford at

Learn more about our commitment to sustainability.

Where next?

  • Introducing our first ever Sustainability CoordinatorRead more
  • Lincoln wins silver award for sustainabilityRead more