Fall will bring more than changing colors, falling leaves and early nights this year — it will also bring Ohio State’s first Campus Sustainability Month.
The Undergraduate Student Government’s Sustainability Committee is sponsoring October as Campus Sustainability Month in order to raise awareness of climate change and other environmental issues and how they affect college students.
“At the core of Campus Sustainability Month, we are trying to highlight the intersectionality of sustainable issues because solving climate change and the problems that it causes is not simply based on a scientific solution,” Troy Tofil, a fourth-year in biology and deputy director of USG’s Sustainability Committee, said.
The month is inspired by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that provides resources and tools for colleges across the country to organize month-long events like this one.
Tofil said each week during the month will have a different theme. The first relates to the intersection of social justice and sustainability; the second week focuses on climate change; the third week addresses natural resource and food management; and the last week explores green energy and environmentally friendly businesses. The events are mostly virtual and feature a speaker from the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center and other environmental experts.
The goal of the month is to address aspects of sustainability and environmentalism beyond scientific issues — such as the ways social problems exacerbate environmental problems, Tofil said.
Elizabeth Lima, a fourth-year in environmental public health and director of the Sustainability Committee, said despite most events being virtual, the week-by-week variation encompasses many issues under the term “sustainability.”
Lima also said Campus Sustainability Month can reach people who may not otherwise learn about sustainability in their classes. She said in her major, conversations about sustainability and social justice happen often, but she recognizes that isn’t always the case across the university.
“The month is really about involving people that aren’t in my major or aren’t studying environmental science and showing them, ‘This is probably affecting you too,’” Lima said.
Lima said she spent the past three years in USG advocating for sustainability awareness and that she became involved in USG because she was concerned about the lack of recycling and waste management on campus.
“Every year, the mindset about sustainability goes from, ‘What are the individual actions that each student can take?’ to ‘How can we make the university more accountable for their actions?’ Over my time in USG, I think there have been some steps taken in order to do that,” Lima said.
Lima, Tofil and their fellow organizers think Campus Sustainability Month will be another one of those steps.
“We’ve been collaborating with different faculty members, offices and student organizations in order to bring everything about,” Tofil said. “It started with the AASHE recognition but evolved into something new and different rather than just being some sort of social media campaign.”