| 03.24.2018

Road trip for sustainability

National organization to collaborate with UI Sustainability Center

While most students would probably say they support sustainability, it’s often harder to find people who consistently put the ideas into practice.

“Turning Green,” a national organization that focuses on promoting sustainability, particularly among young adults, will come to the University of Idaho April 29 as part of the “Conscious College Road Tour.” This program encourages students to be more environmentally conscious by sharing information and giving away some free items.

Amaya Amigo of the UI Sustainability Center, who organized the event, said she was excited UI is one of 16 universities on this year’s tour, and is looking forward to Wednesday.

“We’ll be giving out a lot of products, and I guess the main goal for that is just to get students to think about what they’re purchasing — what are the ingredients in their foods and what choices can they make as students,” Amigo said. “I feel like a lot of people think ‘Oh, sustainability, shopping at the Co-op is really hard or really expensive,’ but this just gets students to think about ‘What can I do as a student?'”

Amigo said there would be two main events related to this program. UI volunteers will hand out free sustainable items at the Idaho Commons from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., including food, soap and teas. She said Turning Green has sent a lot of boxes full of free things to hand out to students.

At 6 p.m., there will be a “Town Hall” meeting with a free dinner and a discussion led by the Turning Green representatives. Amigo said this discussion will focus on ideas for the Sustainability Center’s new “Eco-Reps” program.

“It’s a program that we’re implementing for next year to get mainly first year students, but really anyone living on campus to engage in activities revolved around sustainability, like greening your dorm room,” she said. “It’s not set in stone now, so I don’t know exactly what we’re going to be putting on next year, that’s something that we’re going to be discussing until the end of the school year, but mainly just events to get students thinking about sustainability, thinking about what are some small things they can do to be more sustainable.”

Amigo said she isn’t entirely sure what responsibilities Eco-Reps will have, but they will likely be support for programs like recycling on campus and the free-cycle program, which encourages the reuse of the items students leave behind when they move.

The Sustainability Center sometimes struggles with a lack of student interest, Amigo said.

“I think it’s really hard to get people to come volunteer unless there’s another incentive, like they’re getting hours for a class or for their Greek home,” she said. “I think that’s the hardest thing, is that a lot of people don’t care. It’s sad to say, but a lot of people don’t think about it. That’s something that, as a center, we try to change on campus.”

She said this isn’t the case for everything, and there are some events that bring a higher student turnout, including a showing of the film “No Impact Man” during Earth Week that brought about 45 people.

Amigo said she thinks events like the Conscious Campus Road Tour are important because they help students see what’s happening in other places and shows them how they can be more involved in sustainability.

“I think (the) Moscow community does have a focus on sustainability, but it’s hard to see what’s going on outside of our campus, or what’s happening on other campuses,” she said. “There are campuses that are completely carbon neutral, or have Eco-Reps programs that are just phenomenal and they do bike-sharing programs. So I think, although we do have a Sustainability Center here and we do a lot of great work, there is so much more we can be doing and a program like Teens Turning Green coming to campus really shows students what other opportunities there are out there.”

Daphne Jackson can be reached at arg-news@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @DaphneNJackson

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