Eco-activist Dan Glass says he doesn't believe in apathy. He doesn't need to say it, though, because his work speaks for itself.

In his short time as president of the University of Sussex Student Union (USSU), the 23-year-old has instigated the beginnings of a global movement.

Eco-uni, a system which guides universities towards sustainable living, as well as providing an accreditation which brandishes their environmental credentials, is the brainchild of the recent graduate and the culmination of years on the green campaign trail.

Dan is in his office in Falmer House on the Sussex campus. His shoes are on the floor and he's sitting cross-legged on a battered old sofa. The desks in the room are piled high with papers, magazines and coffee cups and his left arm is a mess of Biro scrawls and reminders.

His enthusiasm for the project is clear.

"I don't want to be part of a species which dies out because of its own stupidity. The next species in a hundred million years will say, Those humans, look how stupid they were, they wiped themselves out'."

Originally from Barnet, a London borough with a recycling record so bad his mother barely knew what it was until he explained, Dan moved to Brighton in 2003 to study at the University of Sussex and graduated last year with a degree in Geography and Development Studies.

"I've been involved with the environmental society at the university for three years," he says. "My friend Miriam and I started it when we arrived at Sussex because there wasn't one.

"Last year, a few friends and I got together and talked about Eco-uni. We spent the summer writing up exactly what it is, what the targets are and how it can be an example to other students."

In its early stages the project was to be called Eco-versity, a name they found had already been patented by Bradford University. "They'd just built some new eco-buildings," he says. "They were amazing but this is different because we're trying to make the whole place green."

After graduation, instead of taking off round the world on a gap year like so many of his contemporaries, he stayed on and fought to be elected to the union.

Running for president may seem like the obvious thing for someone so clearly passionate about the environment but in reality it didn't sit well with his own politics.

"Being an anarchist, running for president felt a bit like, What are you doing, Dan?' "So why did I run? Well, Eco-uni really. To try to do what I can in terms of environmental and ethical ideals.

I ran other campaigns in the run-up to the election but everyone knew it was basically about the environment."

Not content with making changes on his doorstep, Dan intends the project to be rolled out worldwide, but only once they've made it work at Sussex.

The Eco-uni committee has already been speaking to the World University Service, the National Union of Students, charities such as Greenpeace and even organisations in America interested in adopting the blueprint being laid out at Sussex.

Closer to home, the project consists of ten points to make Sussex University as green as possible. These include no more flights inside the UK to be bought, 100 per cent recycling in residencies and a strict transport policy.

But the process isn't as easy as just writing a manifesto.

It's one thing for the Student's Union to make plans but the relevant people within the University have to agree to them and put them into action. All of which, says Dan, needs constant pressure to make sure it happens.

He says, "The University is such a massive, slow-moving machine, it takes ages to get anything done. We have regular meetings, set our own targets then take them to the uni and demand to know what they're going to do about it. We wanted it to be a joint project but whatever they can keep up to speed with is good."

Recently they wrote to the Deans of the six schools which make up the University, requesting all internal UK flights to be stopped. So far they've only received two responses.

One, from the Sussex Institute and Centre for Continuing Education, was very positive, with promises to look into the situation and work out alternatives.

The other reply from the humanities school was less enthusiastic.

Dan says "They basically said, Yeah right, it's never going to happen'. It's frustrating because this is what I live and breathe for and I'm working with people who say things like, Ooh, I don't know if that's possible'."

There are obvious hurdles when embarking on a mission to change the world but Dan is sanguine about the work going on and there have already been many positive changes.

The University recently underwent a Carbon Trust energy audit, partly as a result of pressure from the environmental society two years ago.

They've also installed lights with movement sensors in the library to help save electricity, instigated water-saving measures in the chemistry department, added new bike racks to encourage cycling and erected a ten-metre high wind turbine to monitor wind speeds, with the hope of installing a larger turbine to provide 25 per cent of the electricity for the campus.

But perhaps the biggest weapon in Dan's green armoury is some very good timing.

Professor Alisdair Smith, Vice Chancellor of the University for the past nine years, is leaving at the end of this academic year.

Notorious for major developments across the once green fields surrounding the campus and the drive to bring more students to an already overcrowded institution, he isn't a popular figure among the campaigners.

The Students Union maintains a subcommittee on the panel who decides on the next VC. "Potential candidates are going to be parading around," says Dan.

"We're going to take our ten pressure points to them and ask what they intend to do with them. We're not going to be voting for anyone who won't take action and the new VC has to be a green VC."

And what of apathy? "I just don't believe people are apathetic," he says.

"If people realised the scale we're acting on, if every tree camp and anti-road protest was in the news all in one day, people would see we're not in the minority. One person can do a lot.

"I definitely think there are solutions to all our environmental problems.

I think we just have to learn where we're from - and that's Earth."

Ten-point plan for Eco-uni Sussex
  • Review the University energy audit and work out serious benchmarks for improvement.
  • No more flights bought for any staff, faculty and students within the UK by the end of this academic year and within a 500-mile radius by the end of next academic year.
  • Full-time members of staff dedicated to environmental issues within the University and USSU.
  • 100 per cent domestic recycling for aluminium, paper and glass within all residencies by the end of this academic year.
  • Elimination of all plastic packaging by the end of this academic year.
  • Compost bins in all residencies.
  • Increase car-parking charges to more than public transport costs.
  • Two public presentations of the University's 30-year development plan by the end of this term and the plan to be available on the Sussex website.
  • A University ethical investment policy by end of the academic year.
  • A policy on food miles.