Five Kalamazoo College students did their college proud recently when they presented the latest “green” initiatives on campus to “Green Drinks Kalamazoo,” a grassroots gathering of area sustainability advocates. Hosted by the Southwest Michigan Sustainable Business Forum, and affiliated with Green Drinks International, the local gathering is part an organic, self-organizing network, intended to create an ongoing community dialogue about local sustainability issues. Held the fourth Tuesday of each month from 5:30-7pm at The Strutt Café (773 W. Michigan) near the “K” campus, Green Drinks draws a diverse crowd of people from nongovernmental organizations, academia, government, and business. Each gathering features a brief presentation. On Tuesday, Oct. 26, “K” students took the stage.
Photo: Kalamazoo College students (l-r) at the recent “Green Drinks Kalamazoo” to discuss sustainability initiatives on the “K” campus: Tony Skalican, Leeor Schweitzer, Hannah Gray, Adam Smith, and Trace Redmond.
Hannah Gray’13,Civic Engagement Scholar for Farms to K service-learning organization that promotes student and community access to local food, said her organization is working alongside campus dining services to develop a local purchasing policy that will invest 15-20 percent of total food spending in the local economy. “When we take into consideration our carbon footprint, we need to take our food into consideration,” she said.
Ellen Smith ’11, President of EnvOrg, the College’s oldest environmental organization, said this year’s initiative focuses on waste reduction, and aims to clarify recycling practices so that students understand the distinction between recyclable and nonrecyclable materials. “We also want to target the dorms and spread awareness about ‘how’ to sort recyclables,” she said.
Adam Smith ’11, one of three yearlong Sustainability Interns, currently works with Facilities Management to complete the College’s second greenhouse gas audit. He discussed recent improvements that help reduce the College’s carbon emissions, including the replacement of old ventilation systems in many buildings and increased-efficiency light bulb swaps across campus. “We’re working to establish high energy standards in all new buildings,” he said.
Trace Redmond ’13,Sustainability Guild liaison and president of DIRT (Digging In Renewable TURF), the organization responsible for maintaining the College’s organic garden, encouraged attendees to contact “K” students for project collaboration. “I would like the Guilds to be a place where community members check in on what “K” students are doing and get involved.”
Leeor Schweitzer ’11 earned accolades from Green Drinks coordinator Audrey A. Wierenga, Pollution Prevention and Compliance Officer with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, for being the audience member who had traveled the farthest distance to attend another Green Drinks event. Leeor attended a Green Drinks event in Beijing, China, earlier this year while on Study Abroad.
Wierenga praised all the Kalamazoo students. “They did a wonderful job in presenting just a few of the sustainability initiatives going on at “K” to the wider community,” she said. “Their passion for and mastery of the topics was evident, and the ease in which they presented was commendable.