Sustainability Committee Working Toward a More Informed, Engaged Campus

With an eye on The Loras Sustainability Committee is working hard to increase the knowledge of environmental concerns and share ways to combat them.

“Sustainability efforts are about educating and bringing awareness to environmental issues, especially climate change and how it impacts all humans and the world around us,” Wah Wah Lewin (‘ 21) said. “Sustainability is also about promoting ways we can combat these problems, whether it is an individual effort or with the community. We are doing this so that we can have a better future with each other, animals, land, and many other aspects of the earth.”

The Sustainability Committee team is made up of students Lewin, Mallory Gardiner (’22) and Robert Johnson (’22) and faculty supervisor Beverly Wagner, solid waste and city environmental educator. Through campus-wide events and more direct personal interactions, they are trying to increase the engagement of Duhawks to make environmentally conscious decisions.

This week, as the campus recognizes DuEarth Week, the committee is teaming up with the Fr. Ray Herman Peace and Justice Center and LEAF (Loras Environmental Action Forum) to present new events each day to inform and engage. Despite the restrictions due to the COIVD-19 pandemic, they worked through the year to find other means to get their message across.

“We made sure to plan events via Zoom as well as in person. During the Zoom meetings, we try to keep the event engaging by showing fun and educational videos and encouraging students to share and discuss environmental issues, such as climate change,” Lewin said

They also offered EcoCrafts night events where students create fun crafts using recycled materials or learn how to reuse materials instead of disposing them to the landfill. Some of these crafts include creating reusable bags out of old T-shirts, making dryer balls out of used sweaters, and crocheting out of plastic bags. 

One of the more direct methods is to speak directly to students. By sharing information that directly shows their personal impact on the environment, they can appeal to the need for a more thoughtful approach to their daily routines.

“We do a lot of environmental and sustainability education by talking to students,” Lewin said. “One example of this is conducting food waste audits in the cafeteria and talking to students after the data was collected to bring awareness to how much food we waste via our meals and ways to reduce it.”

So far, their efforts have had mixed results, but just having students willing to listen helps toward a more earth-concious campus.

Lewin explained, “A lot of students are aware of environmental problems via their classes or through personal experiences but do not know what kind of action they can take to reduce their carbon footprint. Some students are willing to listen, attend events, and take action.”