In the Spring of 2021, Wesleyan became one of the first two schools to partner with a small, sustainability-focused company called Generation Conscious. Generation Conscious is a certified minority-owned company that uses ecosystemic design principles to build zero-waste infrastructures in the communities it serves. Here at Wesleyan, that means providing laundry detergent refill stations at multiple locations around campus where students can pick up liquidless, plastic-free laundry detergent sheets. Some locations include the Usdan basement and the High Rise laundry room, with a third refill station on its way to Butts A this fall. By choosing liquidless laundry detergent, carbon emissions from shipping are greatly reduced. As an alternative to pod detergents, detergent sheets eliminate packaging entirely and exponentially reduce the flow of microplastics into wastewater from laundry.
Generation Conscious is committed to addressing hygiene insecurity at its partner campuses. They accomplish this by having schools pay for the laundry detergent to make it 100% free for campus community members. As a result, this also increases the accessibility of sustainable consumer choices, since many eco-friendly products are priced 75-85% higher than their conventional counterparts due to the higher costs of sustainable production, putting them out of reach for FGLI students.
By partnering with Generation Conscious from its inception, Wesleyan has been a pioneer in zero waste hygiene equity, facilitating a movement that has spread across dozens of campuses. Generation Conscious now has 23 partner schools across the United States, including schools like the University of South Dakota, which sit in deeply red states.
In addition to providing zero-waste infrastructure and high-paying student jobs, Generation Conscious offers self-directed, paid fellowship opportunities to its student employees. As a result, FGLI students at Wesleyan, like me, have collaborated with students from other campuses on a variety of sustainability-focused projects. The fellowship project I designed and have been working on for the last academic year is a speculative fiction graphic novel set in the near future during a climate catastrophe. The book deals with themes of environmental racism, reparations, mutual aid, and restorative justice. I have had the pleasure of co-writing this book with three students from Brown University (Belu-Olisa Pierre Sarkissian ’21), Rice University (Taylor Gilliam ‘23), and Williams College (Petra Hinds ’24), whom I met through the CEO and founder of Generation Conscious, Greg Genco. Aside from being my collaborators, they are now some of my most treasured friends. This semester we began making plans with an investor, the former Head of Media Technology at Vox Media, to adapt our book into an animated series. This incredible opportunity, which I will be working on after I graduate in a few weeks, was made possible by Generation Conscious’s dedication to connecting FGLI students with the resources, opportunities, and networks that our non-FGLI counterparts have historically had a monopoly on.
To support future opportunities like this one, Aurora Guecia ’25 and I successfully proposed an initiative to the Green Fund which will guarantee funding for creative projects with sustainability messages by students, regardless of whether they are employed by Generation Conscious. We founded the Multimedia Sustainability Workshop, and we are hiring students at $20/hour to create films, stories, or other art to be distributed at Wesleyan and other campuses. Our goal is to produce educational works that are more emotionally impactful than traditional sustainability content. If you are interested in creating something with us before the end of the year, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and apply on Handshake to the Multimedia Sustainability Workshop Creator – Green Fund position. After I graduate, Aurora Guecia ’25 and Beto Valdez ’26 will be reapplying for funding to continue this workshop next semester.
As an Earth & Environmental Science major, I am excited to see companies like Generation Conscious leading the way in sustainable business practices. It is inspiring to see a company that is concerned with making a positive impact on society and the environment. I want to thank Sustainability Director Jen Kleindienst and Director of the Resource Center Demetrius Colvin for their early and enduring support of this partnership and the Wesleyan FGLI community for growing it. By choosing to do business with companies that prioritize sustainability and social responsibility, Wesleyan can begin to contribute to a better future and make up for its long history of fossil fuel investments.
Joaquina Murieta Guevara ’23