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Gustavus Sustainability Team shares their knowledge: Eco Fair showcases Gustavus’ environmentally conscious student body | The Gustavian Weekly

By Jack Wiessenberger - Staff Writer | November 22, 2019 | News

This last Tuesday, Nov. 18, sustainability groups came together to host the Eco Fair. This fair was a chance for groups such as the Johnson Center for Environmental Innovation, the Sustainability Communications Team as well as some sustainability interns to share their knowledge and experience with the campus community. The groups are collectively known as the Gustavus Sustainability Team. Environmentally conscious action has been at the forefront of the Gustavus community for quite some time now. The Eco Fair showcases some of these actions.

“Gustavus Zero Waste and Energy Reduction Commitments, Compost Expansion, Nobel Conference: Climate Changed, Global Climate Strike, Groundswell Movement… Now what?,” the poster for the Eco Fair said.

All the actions and events listed on the Eco Fair poster have been notable efforts made by Gustavus to be more environmentally conscious. The zero waste and energy reduction commitments have been powered by Gustavus’ own industrial-grade composter and clean energy sources like solar panels. This year’s Nobel Conference discussed climate change and what can be done to limit the effects of climate change on a global as well as local scale. Additionally, the Global Climate Strike and Groundswell movements have been massively successful in uniting people against actions that contribute to pollution and climate change.

There have been a lot of events and commitments made over the last year, and in many ways, they all affect each other. The poster suggested that now is the perfect time to put it all together into a cumulative event: the Eco Fair.

“Our efforts for the Eco Fair were inspired by movements like the Global Climate Strike and the College’s energy reduction and zero waste commitments from last spring. We were striving to create a space that captured the energy around environmental work by celebrating current success and educating the community to enable further action,” Senior, Sustainability intern and Eco Fair developer Rachel Belvedere said.

The Eco Fair focused on educating students about the past while looking to the future. There has been a lot going on at Gustavus in terms of environmental action over the last year, but there is still work to be done. The fair’s design was meant to be open to students wanting to know more about Gustavus’ climate efforts. The open-house style event invited questions from attendees as well as development of important conversations.

“I went to the Eco Fair because I believe knowing about environmentally friendly actions happening on campus is important. The information I received while at the fair was shocking and made me want to be further involved,” Sophomore John McCabe said.

The Eco Fair was all about spreading knowledge of environmentalist efforts on the Gustavus campus. Information given out during the fair was both positive and negative in nature. The facts of climate change and pollution presented at the fair were distressing, but they came with a positive side. Many believe that the ‘good’ is the work being done by the groups involved in the Eco Fair. Their hard work has changed the tone of climate change on campus.

“The fair was full of activist that were so passionate about helping the world. It was very inspiring to see,” McCabe said.

More is being done on campus to fight against climate change. A new effort called NexTrex is headed by the Manager of the Bookmark, Molly Yunkers.

“I think attendees were especially excited about the new initiative led by Molly Yunkers and the BookMark called NexTrex. This is an awesome initiative that cuts down on plastic waste and pollution by diverting hard-to-recycle plastics like bubble wrap and bread bags to a common dropoff site where, after collecting enough material, it is processed by NexTrex and turned into furniture,” Belvedere said.

The NexTrex program was started by a company called Trex. Trex is one of the largest recyclers of plastics in North America. Organizations like Gustavus sign on to NexTrex and collect plastics on their own. After collecting enough plastic, it is then shipped to a Trex recycling plant.

“I think the fair went well. I hope people continue to engage with these topics, ask questions, and hold each other accountable for their part in the efforts against climate change,” Belvedere said.

The Eco Fair was intended to be a showcase of all that has been done on campus in terms of environmental action. The Gustavus Sustainability Team was proud to present all the efforts of their combined groups, but they believe this is just the beginning. More ways to be environmentally conscious are constantly being brought to campus.

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