CSCs Strive to Effect Sustainable Change


On Tuesday, Oct. 9, the College’s campus sustainability coordinators hosted Trashy Tuesday, which sought to teach students about recycling and waste disposal. (Campus/Jessica Munyon)

By Meredith White

As a campus that prides itself on being environmentally conscious, it is easy for students to fall into a trap of complacency. However, the Campus Sustainability Coordinators (CSC) have taken it upon themselves to ensure that their peers’ involvement in environmental affairs is not the chance product of passive action, but instead the byproduct of a widespread active awareness amongst the student body.

The campus sustainability coordinator position evolved from the former Residential Sustainability Coordinator (RSC) position, in an effort to reflect the group’s broader and more ambitious goals.

“It’s a new name and a new initiative,” said Spencer Petterson ’14.

“The mission of the CSCs is to promote sustainable living habits by educating their peers on ways to reduce their carbon footprint.”

Since the group’s inaugural year in 2010, it has gone through many structural changes, according to CSC Rebecca Hartje ’14.

Prior to this year, the RSCs narrowed their focus to informing residents, commons by commons, about sustainable practices within the dorm.

“The group is getting more serious and is actually trying to accomplish something on a broad scale,” said Petterson.

Petterson spearheaded this week’s Trashy Tuesday event to kick off the group’s all encompassing new initiative. By stationing themselves outside of Proctor with a tangible image of what a week’s worth of waste looks like, Petterson hopes the event created a dialogue between students and the CSCs.

“It’s an opportunity for people to ask specific questions about what waste goes where and how they can reduce certain types of waste,” she said. The CSCs plan to hold many campus wide, can’t-miss-it-if-you’re-walking-with-your-eyes-open type events throughout the year to bolster awareness.

“I think the best solution to the environmental issues would be if one morning everyone woke up and had it on their mind,” said Petterson.

Hartje agrees.

“I think that the first step in bringing about real change is getting people to care, which requires people to actually have a base knowledge of the state of the environment,” she said. Hartje was inspired to join the group two years ago by its deliberate focus on intercampus education.

In providing a common education for students through campus wide events, CSCs function as community builders.

“The group tries to take an approach that is educational, but also fun and entertaining,” said Dean of Environmental Affairs Nan Jenks-Jay.

While many of the group members’ academic interests involve the environment, they want to move outside of the classroom to affect more tangible change.

“I think there are a lot of myths about sustainability that often get mistaken as truth, and I really enjoy when I can help inform people and dispel those rumors with actual facts,” said Hartje.

You can stay posted on the CSCs’ latest initiatives through updates on Middlebury’s environmental blog, Green Poodle.

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