The Return of Environmental Residents

By Helena Kilburn

As the semester winds down, the Environmental Residents program plans to restart and will be in full swing by next semester. Lauren Newman (C’18) sat down with The Purple to discuss her role in re-starting of Environmental Residents.

Helena Kilburn: What is the Environmental Residents Program?

Lauren Newman: The Environmental Residents program seeks to foster sustainable living practices both on campus and beyond as we encourage students to become better stewards of our environment and campus.  Environmental Residents will be integral in waste diversion efforts, especially during move out. They will also host friendly dorm competitions and educational events to promote a more sustainable lifestyle across campus.

HK: What is the history of this program at Sewanee?

LN: Since the late 1990’s, Sewanee has seen several iterations of Environmental Residents programs. The first of these was created by a number of seniors who wished to see a more educated and involved student body in the environmental movement. They aimed to create student leaders who were not only knowledgeable about their own environmental impact, but knew how to organize and involve their peers to create real and lasting change.

Fundamentally, the Environmental Residents program is about building community, providing underclassmen with the skills and confidence to get involved in campus life, and creating Sewanee graduates who continue to be proactive members of society. Campus mainstays such as the Green House and the Sustainability Fellows can trace their roots to these early leaders.

HK: How and why was this program restarted?

LN: I first realized the need to restart Environmental Residents my sophomore year, when I was doing an independent study on waste management at Sewanee.  I was surprised to see how much knowledge the student body as a whole lacked on the subject of waste, and highly discouraged when I found out most of the recycling in dorms and academic buildings went to the landfill due to irresponsible recycling practices. Ever since sophomore year, I have worked towards my goal to revamp the Environmental Residents program. I am so excited for the potential impact the ERs can have as leaders on this campus.

HK: What changes will we see around campus with this program?

LN: Probably the most significant change we can look forward to is the waste diversion effort at the end of each spring semester.  We hope to partner with the Hospitality Shop, Blue Monarch, and Goodwill to collect most of the materials that still have good use, like clothes, bedding, toiletries, and even refrigerators, and keep these from ending up in the trash.

We have an awesome team of 11 Environmental Residents ranging from current freshmen to juniors who are full of bright ideas for next year.  Although we won’t be in every dorm, I am so excited to work with them and create fun and engaging programming for the whole campus to experience and enjoy!