UWTSD Graduate hopes to influence her passion for sustainability on others.

Debby Mercer is a graduate from the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s BA (Hons) Liberal Arts with a Foundation year course in Lampeter. Her passion for sustainability around the campus has been infectious, and she hopes that she can influence others to follow in her footsteps.

Debby has always been enthusiastic about sustainability. She said:

“My passion comes from Climate Justice. The issues we are facing around climate change and environmental destruction are very complex and it’s so difficult to understand the problem as a whole and this leads to serious problems in how we as a society tackle these issues. Sustainability should benefit everyone GLOBALLY, not just a select few.

“My view on sustainability has changed since moving to Wales and working in the agricultural sector. Right now, sustainability to me is entwined with resilience. It’s not about going backwards to a time before single-use plastics, fossil fuel extraction, and environmental destruction, but moving forward into a new world. We can’t put coal back in the ground, but we can transform open-cast mines into new habitats for wildlife. We can’t go back to subsistence farming, but we can move towards nature-friendly farming to create environmental, social, and economic resilience for the changes ahead.”

Debby moved to Lampeter after she bought a smallholding, and chose to study at UWTSD because of her commitments to the land and animals. She decided to study Liberal Arts as she has been knitting and spinning for over 10 years and has always been interested in textile archaeology.

During her time at the University, Debby became an INSPIRE intern where she took a unique approach to promote sustainability and the work of the University’s food and resilience initiative, Tir Glas, through the lens of wool as it is something that is prominent in the local community and economy.

“I really enjoyed my time as an INSPIRE Intern for Tir Glas, it gave me lots of opportunities to engage in conversations about the role of wool in creating a sustainable future with students, staff, and members of the local community. The main thing I learned from my internship was how to work as part of a bigger team.”

The University has deepened Debby’s passion towards sustainability. She adds:

“Before coming to UWTSD, I had lived off-grid for over 10 years and was surrounded by people passionate about the environment and committed to the Green Movement. Being immersed in that world, I believed that we were on the fringe of society fighting against the masses! But the passion I found on the Lampeter campus was truly inspiring.

“Students and staff alike are willing to engage in tough conversations and make changes to make UWTSD a sustainable university. It was great to see the grounds and estates staff get some well-deserved recognition on the Lampeter campus last month with the presentation of the Green Flag award. Coming to university has shown me that sustainability and the climate crisis have become key issues for everyone- it’s no longer “us vs them” but all of us working together for a sustainable future.”

Debby has recently curated an exhibition looking at the ‘Worth of Wool’ designed around her undergraduate work. It looks at the significant role it has played at different points in history and how it can help create a sustainable future. She adds:

“We have many farms in the British Isles that produce a huge amount of wool that is currently burnt or buried as it has little financial worth. But wool clothing lasts a long time and is repairable, wool compost is rich in nitrogen and can be used instead of peat-based compost and other products like pure wool insulation can have a huge impact on the sustainability value of a new build or as a green way to retrofit an old building.”

The exhibition will be on all week from the 16th of October, at UWTSD’s IQ Campus on the SA1 Waterfront in Swansea as part of Sustainability Week, and Debby will deliver a talk about the role of wool in sustainability and a needle-felting workshop suitable for all ages on Thursday 19th October at 4 pm.

Debby hopes that she’s able to enlighten fellow students and staff to think more about sustainability.

“Sustainability is in our hands. We as people hold so much power through our purchasing choices. To be more sustainable isn’t just about planting trees and growing your own food, but making choices on which businesses we support and how we support them. Being more sustainable can be as simple as sitting in 1822 for your coffee instead of getting a takeaway cup.”

Anna Jones, UWTSD’s Head of Civic Engagement said:

“It’s a pleasure to see how our students progress with their life journeys whilst embracing and applying their learning from their time with us here at UWTSD. As a former INSPIRE Intern from the Lampeter Campus, it is truly wonderful to see that Debbie has had the opportunity to hold her own exhibition on such a valuable topic in support of Sustainability Week. We wish her every success for the future.”

 

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