Natalie Card ’23 brought the idea of Climate Week to SusCo. “I am an intern at the Climate Health Education Project, which works to bring climate education to schools around New Haven.” Card continues, “Climate Week was something the Climate Health Education Project (CHEP) was doing.” With an existing program off of which to model, Card believed it was possible to do something similar at Hopkins, “I came...with the idea of a week where SusCo leads initiatives around climate change to try to raise awareness [at] Hopkins about the climate crisis. From there, the other people on the committee helped me come up with each daily activity.” Co-head of SusCo Jessica Hensel ’23 elaborates on this process: “We started planning for Climate Week by thinking back to areas of sustainability that lots of people overlook or haven’t heard about before, and brainstorming ways to remind and educate our students and faculty on these topics.” According to Ingrid Slattery ’23, member of the Sustainability Committee, “[SusCo’s] goal for Climate Week was to reach as many people as possible. We wanted everyone to find something they were interested in and felt like they could do.”
SusCo addressed a wide range of issues throughout the Climate Week campaign, including “Meatless Monday for animal lovers, and those interested in agri- cultural sustainability. Thrifting Thursday was aimed at those in our community interested in [combating the fast] fashion industry, and Stand Up Saturday was intended to mobilize our community’s political activists,” Slattery explains. She also speaks on SusCo’s efforts to garner school-wide participation during Climate Week and increase awareness about sustainability. “We wanted to make the issues approachable, so we cut our all-school emails down to a few words, and made colorful infographics that people could click through, even an interactive map for Worldwide Wednesday. Lastly, we included simple ways to take action for each day. Not only would this create small positive impacts on our environment, but it would show those who took on the challenges that working towards sustainability wasn’t all that hard.”
The Sustainability Committee has been working on other ways to make Hopkins a more eco-friendly environment, including encouraging students and faculty to bring in Tupperware to avoid excessive use of plastic and styrofoam lunch containers. When asked about the major sustainability issues Hopkins faces, Hensel responds, “This year, we think that the plastic waste generated by our new Covid-safe lunches is a major issue regarding sustainability at Hopkins. Partnered with SWENext (Society of Women Engineers), we helped spread the word about how students and faculty can bring their own reusable containers and utensils to lunch to use instead of styrofoam.”
Students have had a wide range of reactions to SusCo’s new initiatives. Kyle Holler, ’23 shares that he thinks that SusCo’s projects are “a good idea” but believes “not enough people care.” Melody Cui ’23 agrees, observing that in the case of the Tupperware project, “many people do forget to bring in Tupperware or just can’t be bothered to pack one more item.” Cui also offers a potential solution to this lack of interest: “Providing a small incentive to bringing in Tupperware or sending out reminders once in a while might help encourage more people to bring in Tupperware.” Sofia Schaffer ’23 provides another point of view: “It’s really great that they’re working on it. Especially during Covid-19, we’ve really regressed in terms of sustainability, but I’m happy that we’re taking more steps towards being green in the future.” Schaffer also spoke to her hopes for future SusCo projects: “I love animals, so ideally, Sustainability Committee could work on making the campus more habitable” specifically by converting “land into a garden for... pollinators.”
According to Hensel, SusCo isn’t done with its efforts on campus this year. When asked about future and current projects Hensel responds, “We are currently working with the administration to plant rain gardens and potentially a bioswale on campus to naturally filter chemicals from fertilizer out of rainwater and runoff.”
Slattery, who is set to be a SusCo co-head for the 2021-2022 school year, shares insight into her future goals and project ideas: “I want to reduce the energy used in heating our many separate buildings, perhaps even incorporate green energy onto our campus.” SusCo’s impact on Hopkins will undoubtedly grow as the club continues to make the campus a more eco-friendly place.