Sustainability fellow Kaitlin Aaby, ‘18, was happy to see that the Office of Sustainability surpassed its goal for student engagement this month. This October, the Office of Sustainability put on its first Campus Sustainability Month, an event recognized by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
As the sustainability fellow, Aaby helped plan and organize four weeks of themed events all dealing with environmental issues on campus. “There are so many events, I know it’s overwhelming, but I wanted to spam people on campus with as much as possible, and I tried to get a wide range of interest. So there’s science, cooking, and art- I just wanted to get [The Office’s] name out there, because not a lot of people know we have an Office of Sustainability… My goal is to help students do what they want to in terms of sustainability. I’ll help them apply for grants (she later mentioned the Green St. Mary’s Revolving Fund, also known as GSMRF, as the major application she can help with), and stuff like that- that’s my job!”
The theme for week one was Global Climate Change, and saw such events as Dr. Lee Cooper’s Lecture on Climate Change to kick off the month, tabling for the Climate Action Petition outside of the Great Room, natural tie-dye and a movie. The Climate Action Petition was the singular event that received the most student engagement, with over 100 students signing the petition.
The theme for week two was November elections, which primarily featured tabling for voter registration outside of the great room at lunch and dinner times. SMCM alumnus Pat Elder, ‘77, a local candidate running for Congress in the Green Party, visited campus on the 10th and spoke to prospective voters at Cole Cinema. For more information on Pat Elder’s campus visit, see Dan Belson’s article on the event in the last edition, or online.
Week three, which was themed Green Infrastructure, was a bit slower in terms of student engagement. The Office of Sustainability hosted tours of the Tiny House this week, showed a movie in Cole Cinema, and tabled with recycled crafts and bobbing for apples at Hawktoberfest.
The last week of the month was themed Food Justice and featured a Meatless Monday sampler at the Great Room. On Tuesday, four teams of two students competed at the Green Chef competition, preparing vegetarian and vegan dishes in the Great Room for a panel of judges. The week also saw a cooking workshop with Bon Appetit and a workshop on beekeeping with Josh Calo at the Kate Chandler Campus and Community Farm.
The Office of Sustainability also used the month to inspire composting around campus with some friendly competition. Student volunteers weighed the compost as they collected it all throughout the month and pit the similar residences against each other- traditional dorms in one group, Waring Commons against Lewis Quad, and the Crescent Townhouses against the Greens. Once the final totals for the month have been calculated, the winning residents from each group will be invited to the Office of Sustainability cookout at Daugherty- Palmer Commons in November.
Students interested in getting involved with campus sustainability should consider joining the Food Recovery Network, which takes extra food from the Great Room to a local soup kitchen, the Garden Club, which manages the campus bees, the Student Government Association’s Environmental Protection Committee, the Sustainability Club, or volunteering with Compost Collection and Keep St. Mary’s Beautiful. This semester, compost collection volunteers meet at the Physical Plant Fridays at 3:30. Another option for volunteering is the Kate Chandler Campus and Community Farm, which hosts open volunteer hours every day.
Aaby hopes to keep the momentum up, and is currently working to plan Sustainable Living Workshops for students. In the past, these workshops have made eco-friendly laundry detergent and taught sewing. Aaby hinted that future workshops may include a vegan nutrition workshop and a class on waste-free living. The fellow is also planning a student yard sale, and considering bringing back Meatless Mondays at the Great Room. Aaby encourages students to like SMCM Sustainability on Facebook to stay up-to-date with all sustainability-related events on campus.