Interview Arjen Peters

“It is my impression that a lot of people have sustainability at heart but that they do more about it at home than at work.” Even though there is so much to be gained on campus, in particular in the digital domain, says Arjen Peters, Administrative Director at the Faculty of Social Sciences.

ArjenPeters“I think we need a kind of digital transformation. There are still too many processes on campus that involve paper. Annual appraisal interviews for example. They are submitted and signed on paper, but this can easily be done digitally. The same applies to meeting agendas, or sharing documents, theses and essays.

It is my impression that many people have sustainability at heart, but that they do more about it at home than at work. At home we separate our waste, but at work I don’t do it either, for the simple reason that the campus offers fewer facilities in this respect.

I think we should take the time to look at our campus through a green lens. Are those PCs of ours really sustainable? Each one of them uses as much power as a fridge. Are we aware of the fact that the equipment we use is made in countries where people are underpaid and forced to work with toxic chemicals in order to provide us with a screen?

I personally don’t do anything on paper anymore, neither at work nor at home. I find it just as easy to take notes and underline excerpts on my laptop. Paper has no added value in this respect any more.

In ten years’ time I expect that everyone will work with a single device, instead of a PC and a laptop. There may be still the odd printer around somewhere on campus, but most of them will have disappeared. Examinations will also be done digitally. Annual appraisal interviews, contracts, theses, essays: none of these will require paper anymore. But we should also consider our research from a green perspective: if a project has a serious impact on the environment we have to ask ourselves whether we want to finance it.

I believe that we are already more sustainable than we think. We just have to communicate this more clearly to the outside world. The corporate sector is always boasting about their sustainable actions, and this makes them attractive to potential new employees.”