Going Green: Campus Sustainability Week

Haylie at Waldingfield FarmFor the third consecutive year, Taft is joining colleges and universities across the state of Connecticut in engaging in a full week of environmental education and sustainability initiatives. Taft’s Campus Sustainability Week is in full swing now, running October 14 through 20, with different events planned each day. 

                  “I’m very excited about it,” says Haylie Spain ’19, one of Taft’s “EcoMons,” a select group of environmentally conscious student leaders and educators. “Campus Sustainability Week is a great opportunity to bring the important work the EcoMons do to the forefront of campus life a bit more, while really raising awareness about how each of our actions impacts the environment around us.” 

                  Every member of the Taft community was invited to kick off the week by signing a pledge to live sustainably—to be more conscious of things like energy use, and the generation and disposal of everyday trash. Haylie hopes that one of the newest Sustainability Week initiatives will be one of the most impactful. Inspired by both best practice and a recent ban on plastics by another school, Taft’s EcoMons are introducing “No Waste Game Day.”

                  “We’re asking all of our teams and athletes to be conscious of the waste that is generated during games on Saturday,” explains Haylie. “We’re hoping that players will bring their water in reusable containers so that there are no plastic cups or bottles to dispose of, and they choose snacks that come with minimal or no packaging. It happens to be Parents’ Day, so we’re excited to get them involved in thinking about our efforts, as well.”

                  Campus Sustainability Week will also bring back events that seemed to resonate with students in the past—roadside trash collection, education through trivia contests, a reusable mug design contest, a runway Trashion Show, featuring wearable fashion crafted completely out of recycled materials, and the “scrape your plate” initiative. 

                 Haylie at Waldingfield Farm “I want people to come away with new ideas about ways to improve our sustainability efforts as a community, and a better understanding of why it is so important,” says Haylie. “Scraping plates into compost bins is one of those things that happens every day at Taft, but that people might not think about because they don’t see it—it happens behind the scenes. We want students to be a little more aware of the volume of food waste we generate each day and the importance of composting it, and to recognize all the work the Dining Hall staff does to support our sustainability initiatives.” 

                  The week will also feature a Farm-to-Table Sit-down Dinner, with some vegetables from Waldingfield Farm, where Haylie and other Taft students work as their afternoon “ex”; a “Rhino Redress” thrift shop clothing swap; an evening debate, where students will consider whether or not plastic bags should be banned in Watertown; and a Morning Meeting talk by Vien Truong, CEO of the Dream Corps and Green For All, a national initiative that puts communities of color at the forefront of the climate movement and equality at the center of environmental solutions.

                 “I think the real goal of Campus Sustainability Week is simply awareness—simply creating a greater consciousness about the environment,” Haylie says. “I want people to understand that even the littlest things that we do have a very big impact on the environment and other people around us. The more we can make people aware of that, the more conscious they’ll be of their actions. I hope there is a lot of living and learning going on throughout the week; it definitely benefits everyone.”