News & Stories

Kelly’s sustainability focus

A confessed Jack-of-all-trades, Kelly Pinner found her passion in a Diploma of Sustainable Living, and is now majoring in Sustainability in a Bachelor of Science degree.


Kelly Pinner describes herself as a freelancer, working in a range of smaller, diverse jobs simultaneously, and she loves the stimulation and variety of her lifestyle.

“I collect little jobs: work in a pub at night, caretaker for properties during the day, GP training, I was a Metro bus driver for eight years, and that 20-hour week fit in well with doing wedding photography

“I don’t like having just one job in my life that’s all-consuming. With lots of little bits and pieces going on, it was easy to complement my working life with education.

“I’d already done a TAFE course in business management and worked in business management for a few years. And I started studying my Bachelor of Fine Arts while working as a bus driver.”

As with many people, Kelly’s income was affected by the COVID19 lockdown period and she found herself falling back on the old-fashioned thriftiness and prudence she had learned as a child growing up on a farm at Bangor in Tasmania’s north.

“When I was a kid we were frugal, we shopped at the Salvos store, we made jam to preserve our berries, had our own vegie garden. All that stuff that that is now under umbrella of sustainability was just normal life to us then.”

As she rediscovered those old methods of reducing waste and making things last, Kelly started thinking more about what the modern equivalents were. And when she discovered the University of Tasmania’s Diploma of Sustainable Living course being offered online for free, she signed up immediately, hoping to improve her own sustainable lifestyle.

Bachelor of Science student Kelly Pinner with her home soil-making facilities, inspired by her Sustainability studies.
Bachelor of Science student Kelly Pinner with her home soil-making facilities, inspired by her Sustainability studies.

“It was fascinating! So much of it was familiar to me already, like reduce, reuse, recycle. But also I experienced a lot of frustration that there were so many other concepts and strategies that I’d never heard of until I went to uni to study them.

“Things like the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the whole world should be participating in that but how many people even know about them? So I started banging on about this stuff to anyone who would listen.

“The practical elements of the course were just so valuable and I remember saying to my friends that if the University ever offered this topic as a degree, I’m going to study it.”

Kelly got her wish last year when she discovered the University of Tasmania offered a Sustainability major as part of the Bachelor of Science degree.

She enrolled first chance she got.

“I really wanted to ramp up my knowledge and qualifications to a new level so that maybe I could be employed in a role that would give me a chance to make a bigger change at a bigger level," Kelly said.

“I couldn’t wait to get started. It got me thinking, I’m going to be a scientist!”

Since she hadn’t studied for quite a while, Kelly found the Diploma was an excellent reintroduction to study and gave her the confidence she needed to continue on to her bachelor degree.

She is studying part time and deliberately picked an equal split of face-to-face learning and online learning because she liked having the added flexibility to fit her degree in around her “patchwork blanket” work life.

Her particular area of interest is in corporate responsibility and she hopes to go into some kind of consultation service after she graduates. She wants to work in a job that will help businesses incorporate better sustainability principles into their operations.

And she still constantly monitors her own sustainability efforts, always looking for ways to incorporate her new knowledge into her daily life.

“You can be passionate about this issue but still fail to meet those benchmarks, and I’m very aware of that in my own life. So it helps me think about how you could help people make those changes if they’re not as passionate or motivated.”

You can also do a Sustainability major as part of any other bachelor degree that offers space for a second major, which can be created through your electives. Examples include Arts, Economics, Design, Agricultural Science, or Information and Communication Technology.