Sustainability at HWS

By Yellie LaBare ’19

Special to the Herald

In 2007, HWS President Mark Gearan signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, which charged the Colleges with a new task: carbon neutrality by 2025. Although bold, this act was crucial in the forward momentum of the Colleges’ sustainability, and 12 years, two solar farms, and countless program initiatives later, the Colleges are well on their way to minimizing their impact on the planet. A main contributor to the on-campus portion of these improvements has been groups such as the EcoReps! They are responsible for assessing the needs of facilities as well as the student body and coming up with creative ways to get people involved in their cause. They often table and host events like the current Green Lens film series that takes place on the last Thursday of each month.

In a recent interview, campus Sustainability Manager Michael Amadori discussed his goals for helping the campus meet its carbon neutrality pledge, improve recycling rates, and engage more students in the EcoRep program. The current tagline has been “When in doubt, throw it out” to educate the campus about the contamination problem of our recycling.  Also, several program changes have taken place this year within the EcoReps that have made it easier than ever to participate!

First, rather than going through an application process, the program includes everyone regardless of experience, major, or level of commitment. To join, visit the Sustainability home page and take a quick 10-minute survey that asks basic questions about your current knowledge and habits, and provides some basic sustainability information.  That’s it! Then you are in the club and will receive updates via email to participate more.

Secondly, because of many people’s conflicting schedules, the EcoReps now operate on a reward system rather than a commitment system.  For each event you attend as an EcoRep (a meeting, a tabling session, volunteering during Earth Week, etc.) you will be entered into a raffle for the end of the year party in order to win prizes such as reusable mugs, recycled notebooks, solar-powered chargers and more!  This method allows the EcoReps to be more inclusive to students who have other commitments but still want to contribute. In this way, everyone can have a hand in the necessary ongoing changes to make our campus a greener, happier and more sustainable place to live, work, and play!

There are many perks to being an EcoRep, too.  Every semester there are tours to local places of interest such as water treatment plants, recycling centers, composting operations, and fruit orchards. If you help as a Bin Master during Orientation, you have the ability to move back to campus early and train with your fellow EcoReps. The meetings always have great food from local restaurants, you get to hang out with friends and meet new people, and the program is a resume builder.

Any questions can be emailed to sustainablity@hws.edu and be sure to follow us on social media: @GreenHWS

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