Two years ago, the Connecticut Alliance for Campus Sustainability started a movement. The collaborative effort brought a week of environmentally-focused events and activities to college and university campuses across the state. Last year, Director of Environmental Stewardship Carly Borken led Taft in joining that movement.
"Our program was both modeled after and coincided with a statewide, higher education collaboration," Borken said. "Campus Sustainability Week events not only stimulated conversation, but also built connections and inspired action."
Taft's 15 "EcoMons, " the school's environmental student leaders, educators, and liaisons, brought Campus Sustainability Week back to Taft this fall.
"Last year was a very good start," said EcoMon Phoebe Autio '18 "but it was new, so people didn't really know a lot about it. We did a better job this year creating more build-up through social media and signage. I'm sure the initiative will grow in the future as we start forecasting even further in advance."
This year, the EcoMons worked to add breadth and depth to the foundation established in 2016.
""Our goal was really education this year," explained EcoMon Charles Verheggen '18. "Rather than introduce a lot of new
events, we really amped up a lot of the things we did last year. For example, this year we did 'scrape your plate' every day instead of just once. I think students now have a better understanding of what they can and can't compost, and will use the composting bins more effectively and consistently. I believe this week was a good week at Taft for learning and for the environment."
Carolyn Yow '19 is a member of the EcoMon data research group. Their work helped shine a light on the on the need for education initiatives, including things like 'scrape your plate.'
"One of the things the data research group does is look at the school's waste, and figure out the ratio between waste and recycling in tons," Carolyn explained. "The ratio was horrible—it was 83 to 17. We presented that data to the school first before announcing Campus Sustainability Week to capture their attention, and help them understand the importance of environmental education and taking action."
The EcoMons also brought back the "Trashion Show," a runway show featuring clothing made from trash and other recycled materials; the design-a-mug, competition; travel to a chicken processing center, and an evening debate, where teams weighed the goals of capitalist markets against principles of environmentalism. Morning Meeting speaker Majora Carter led discussions on creating more environmentally just communities by stimulating local economies, and the yoga program, coached by Amanda Benedict, lived the Taft motto by donating their time on Wednesday to clean up litter along Guernseytown Road.
"Our EcoMons have all demonstrated immense attention and passion in this role," said Borken. "I am really excited to see where their work continues to lead our campus."