EcoReps Expand Coverage, Promote Sustainable Habits

Expanding from its initial focus on first-years, the EcoRep program at Pomona College has moved into a space on North Campus this semester to promote green living habits among upperclassmen. 

As part of the EcoRep program, which was launched last semester, six sophomore students who live in first-year residence halls serve as liaisons between the students and the Sustainability Integration Office (SIO), and provide information to first-year students about how to live sustainably on campus. EcoReps spread their message by planning themed monthly programming, creating informational bulletin boards in the residence halls, and emailing
ecological information through listservs.

Now, an Eco Desk in Walker Lounge has established the program’s presence on North Campus.

“The Sustainability Office thought it would be most important to have incoming first-years exposed right from the get-go to sustainability through lifestyle habits,” EcoRep Madeline McGaughey PO ’15 said. “We don’t want that to go away as people get older.”

“I think it’s really important to
have students involved with sustainability interacting with students who aren’t
involved with sustainability, and talking about sustainability with them,” she added.

Instead of designating one EcoRep in each North Campus residence hall, the SIO decided to open a central Eco Desk in Walker Lounge. 

At the Eco Desk, residents
can ask questions about sustainable living habits, and check out equipment and supplies for free.

“It’s the same concept of these people being peer educators and resources when it comes to sustainability questions in terms of living at Pomona College,” SIO Director Ginny Routhe said. 

Routhe said that Eco Desk staffers can help students dispose of electronics such as broken refrigerators. 

Students can also check out drying racks, compost buckets, and compact fluorescent light bulbs, as well as items from the ReCoop office, which collects leftover items such as hangers and school supplies.

“It is very
hard to run an entire sustainability program with one full-time staff [member], so it
does help to have a body of engaged and passionate students to infiltrate the residence halls with sustainability information that one person can’t do alone,” Routhe said.

Although Pomona is the only 5C school with an EcoRep program, Pitzer College is in the preliminary stages of creating its own.

“We are in
an environment that is conducive to combining learning with action, and so I
think we should make the most of that,” Camille Matonis PZ ’15 said. “And by ingraining more environmental
consciousness in students while they are here, they will hopefully carry those
values with them for the rest of their lives.” 

Throughout the past few years, 5C students have been active in environmental movements such as the Claremont Colleges Divestment Campaign. These same students often support programs that promote sustainable living habits and may be more accessible to the larger student population.

“Right now, student activism in
relationship to environmental issues is huge; there is a ton going on, there
are thousands of ways to get involved, so I’m hopeful for EcoReps on Pitzer’s
Campus,” Pitzer Sustainability Coordinator Jesse Meisler-Abramson said.

The North Campus Eco Desk is open on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., and Monday through Wednesday from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. in Walker Lounge.

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