This October, a series of activities will be happening on campus in celebration of Campus Sustainability Month. Hosted primarily by the University’s Office of Sustainability, a range of activities including talks, a 5K, and leadership development will be happening on campus in honor of sustainability and being more green.
Campus Sustainability Month is a national movement among several colleges throughout the nation, organized mainly by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE).
“The month provides a terrific opportunity to engage and inspire incoming students and other campus stakeholders to become leaders for sustainability,” Director of Programs at the AASHE Julian Dautremont-Smith wrote in an email to participating organizations.
Nationwide, the AASHE is sponsoring many sustainability-related events. This includes offering discounted movie screenings from Bullfrog Films and hosting an AASHE Conference and Expo in Baltimore.
At the University, activities include a teach-in and talk by Chief Arvol Looking Horse happening on the evening of Oct. 7; a Sustainability and Equity 5K Fun Run and Pumpkin Fest at Long Lane Farm, both happening on Oct. 8; the Zero Waste Challenge (ZWC) from Oct. 9 to Oct. 15; a Sustainability Leadership Development seminar for student leaders on Oct. 20; and a “Where on Earth Are We Going” conference on Oct. 29.
The teach-in and talk by Chief Arvol Looking Horse is the opening event, and it will encompass an information session about the Dakota Access Pipeline protests and a talk by a Native American spiritual leader.
Two days later, Saturday morning will kick off with a Fun Run around the Long Lane Farm area on the existing cross country team’s 5K course. Commencing at 11:30 a.m., the race will end at Pumpkin Fest. The first 40 people who register for the run are entered into a raffle to win an array of prizes, including environmentally friendly Christmas lights and tickets to shows at the Center for Fine Arts (CFA).
In addition, those participating in the run have the option of running in costume. The best costume will receive an additional prize.
Pumpkin Fest is an annual event held at the University farm on Long Lane. The event is a celebration of Long Lane Farm, a student-run organic farm, that supplies high-quality food to Middletown residents. This year, the festival will begin at noon. The event is co-hosted by the University College of the Environment and Bon Appétit. There will also be shuttles provided that leave from Weshop and Usdan to get to the farm.
“There will be music, free veggie burgers and cider, vendors (veggies, baked goods, yarn, shirts) as well as crafts/activities of all kinds, farm tours, and pumpkins for sale,” the Facebook event page for Pumpkin Fest reads.
All of next week there will be a Zero Waste Challenge held at the University, hosted by the Eco Facilitators (EFs). The facilitators are in charge of making freshman dorms more environmentally-friendly and encouraging better sustainability habits.
“The Zero Waste Challenge is an event led/sponsored/hosted by the Eco Facilitators—this is the third year it’s happening—to encourage students to be cognizant of their waste production,” Sara Wallace-Lee ’18 wrote in an email to The Argus. “It will be running from this Saturday to next Sunday. Facilitators will be tabling in Usdan [on Oct. 6] through Saturday (and at Pumpkin Fest) to give out plastic bags, stickers, and pins.”
The initiative involves students receiving a clear Ziplock bag and pinning it on their backpacks for the week. Throughout the week, all the waste that is not compostable or recyclable that people generate is collected in the bag so that they are conscious of how much waste they produce.
“The challenge is an awesome way to become aware of the waste you generate—or don’t,” the Facebook event page reads. “It’s a fun way to learn about sustainability and the benefits of conscious behavior.”
At the conclusion of the week, the facilitators will be hosting a Trash Bash for all participants. Also, the freshman dorm with the most participants will be treated to cider and doughnuts.
In an effort to continue the education events relating to the month’s goal of promoting eco-friendly policies, a workshop on sustainability leadership development is planned for two weeks from now. This event is going to be co-hosted by the Office of Sustainability and the Student Activities and Leadership Development (SALD) Office.
The month will finish with the “The Where on Earth Are We Going.” symposium. This is an annual conference that consists of several events, including a panel entitled “The Shifting Landscapes in a Dynamic World and Historical Perspectives From Deep Time” based on kelp forest ecosystems.
Jennifer Kleindienst, the University’s Sustainability Director, is excited for the events that will be happening this month.
“I’m hoping that Campus Sustainability Month will help to bring sustainability out of the Earth Day ‘rut’ to raise awareness of the projects and events happening all the time around sustainability,” Kleindienst wrote in an email to the Argus. “In addition, I’m excited that multiple of the Campus Sustainability Month events connect environmental and social justice issues.”