Last Wednesday, October 24th, was St. Olaf College’s first ever Sustainability Day. Put on by SustainAbilities, it was a major success for the program and for students. Students could learn more about sustainable coffee options on campus, attend a lecture on aquaponics, or taste sustainably chili in the Pause. All three events brought more awareness to the student body, andultimatelyhelped in increasing student awareness ofsustainabilityin their everyday life.
Sustainability Day was not just about hosting a few events, but opening students’ eyes to the bigger picture of how our modern system works, and where sustainability isabsolutelyneeded. Our Peace Coffee tasting attracted students for the free drinks, but it was about treating workers fairly and paying them livable wages, and realizing we have a food system that is unsustainable and unfair to many different people.Makingconsciousdecisions about our daily lives is one of the focus of SustainAbilities, and by focusing in on food, students really can connect with what they learn and how they make decisions everyday.
This movement here at St. Olaf and the notion of a Sustainability Day is not just unique to St. Olaf. It’s part of a larger, broad coalition of forward-thinking colleges and universities that followed the lead of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE). It’s a organization of like-minded of higher educationinstitutionsthat stronger believe in working to build sustainability in colleges and universities.
Building sustainability communities at St. Olaf College is key to the sustainability movement and our program. By the looks of our Sustainability Day, it was a resounding success. One Sustainability Representative, Lara Palmquist stated that, “I felt a strong sense of community throughout the day.” Being a Sustainability Representative myself, I think that Sustainability Day 2012 will be the first of manysuccessfulSustainability Day’s and the community that it builds will succeed and empower greater changes in lifestyle to promote sustainable living.
Now that Sustainability Day has come and passed, what does it mean? It means that have learned something, gained friends, and have reached out to our community. It also means thebeginningof of our Green Room Certification process, which you can find on the SustainAbilities Homepage. Fill it out and give it a try! Your SustainAbilities Representative will contact you to finish the certification process. Green Room Certification is one of the many new programs that SustainAbilities offers, and we want tocontinueworking with students to help build awareness of our lifestyle and how we can be moresustainablein everyday life.