Helena Kilburn, Mandy Moe Pwint Tu, and Luke Gair
Contributing Writer and Executive Staff
Sustainability is a term used constantly on college campuses. Every institution thrives on its reputation, and being a campus with a strong sense of sustainability can improve the prestige of a university.
Sewanee promotes sustainability through many programs. The Sustainability Fellows run different projects to encourage ecological responsibility among students. One of their recent projects was the Sewanee Water Campaign, which raised awareness of the fact that 1,500 plastic bottles are used in the United States every second. Working alongside the Sustainability Fellows are the Environmental Residents, who are students based in different dorms across campus. They assist with move-in and promote sustainability through engaging events.
The Greenhouse brings together students who have a vested interest in a sustainable lifestyle. Their mission is to “serve as an inclusive community dedicated to cultivating long-term relationships between natural and social environments on local and national levels,” according to house member Emily Culp (C’19). They strive to embody important values of living green at Sewanee, “serving to provide a realistic model of environmentally sound living at the University of the South,” she continued.
In an endeavor to promote sustainability, Luke Stallings (C’18) is working with Carolyn Hoagland, the manager of the University Farm, to create an aquaponics system (the marriage of aquaculture and hydroponics). This will work in Sewanee’s temperate climate. “I took freshwater conservation, and I learned a lot about freshwater bivalves and how they can filter,” he said. “I found Dr. Edwards as my independent study mentor, and she was interested in learning more about aquaponics, we’re both just hoping to learn more about it.”
Dietrich Klug (C’20) looks at the bigger picture, stating “Sustainability to me means to be able to replenish natural resources faster than they are depleted.” This correlates with the University’s use of plastic utensils in the dining hall and paper towels in restrooms. There needs to be a more valiant attempt to try and wean off of materials and resources that are not replenishable.
Some students take a more personal approach: Maddy Hitel (C’20) said, to her, sustainability means “making little choices that add up to help protect the one earth we were given! Whether it’s eating a plant-based diet, or taking shorter showers. Every action counts.” Sydney Masterson (C’20) agrees that it means taking personal action. To her, sustainability means that one should recycle.
There are those who took more of a social approach when answering this question. For Mac Bouldin (C’19), sustainability means “saving the world by recycling beer cans.” After hearing from the students, it was encouraging to learn that students are trying to embody a more eco-friendly campus.