Senior Staff Writer
Sustainability Week will take place during the last week of October and is part of an international initiative known as Campus Sustainability Month. With a focus on food and sustainability, the week features Common Hour lectures from Environmental Studies faculty, behind-the- scenes tours of Vail Commons, and initiatives from student groups, among other events.
The Sustainability Office has worked to organize the week-long event since August at the recommendation of Dave Martin, interim Chair of the Environmental Studies Department.
Sustainability Fellow Joe St. James Lopez ‘15 said, “I listened to a webinar to learn about what other schools were doing during Campus Sustainability Month, and many have done a sustainability week. Ours will cover issues of food and sustainability, including social sustainability, economic sustainability and environmental sustainability. I think people assume food is just an environmental issue, but it’s really an economic and social issue as well.”
Many other colleges and universities throughout the nation have created a sustainability week as part of Campus Sustainability Month, including University of Dayton, Villanova University, and University of Louisville. The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) started the Campus Sustainability Month initiative as a result of the success of Campus Sustainability Day, generally held on October 4, that began in 2003.
“The goal of [Campus Sustainability Month] is to raise the visibility of campus sustainability and provide campus sustainability advocates with a platform through which to deepen campus engagement around sustainability. It provides an excellent opportunity to recruit new leaders and set goals for the rest of the year,” published the AASHE on their website.
The theme of the week, food and sustainability, ties in with the new app, Foodscape, developed by a team of students. In addition to creating increased awareness surrounding sustainable food practices in and around the school community, Sustainability Week and Foodscape provide interactive opportunities for the students and school community members to discover how their actions play into the overall sustainability of the campus.
“The food system has become invisible now,” said Kaity Anstrom ‘15, who works in the Sustainability Office. “You just go to restaurants and the food is there. There’s no story anymore behind the food. There’s no connection to who grows it, who ships it, who prepares it, and especially what happens after the food has been eaten. We’re all aware of the pollution and effects of pesticides and herbicides but the connection [to the food system] isn’t actually made. People don’t think that they can contribute to the Sustainability Office, but in reality every single group has something that they can contribute that relates to sustainability.”
To kick off the week, the Sustainability Office will hold an open house in its new location, formerly where Lula Bell self-service laundry facilities resided. This will be followed by an event at Vail Commons about the amount of water used to grow and prepare different foods available at dinner. It is possible that the directors of the documentary film “Food Chains: The Effects of the Supermarket Industry on Farm Laborer Rights” will come to campus to give a talk as part of the week. However, this might not take place until the following week.
The Environmental Action Coalition (EAC) has chosen to emphasize the water usage component of food and sustainability. Secretary Neesha Basnyat `18 said, “We usually have our energy- saving competition ‘Do It in the Dark’ in the fall and our water awareness campaign in the spring, but almost all of North Carolina is in a drought right now, even after the hurricane. We decided that our efforts this fall would probably be better put to conserving water.”
“We’ll be working with Commons to provide information about the different water usages of different foods and we’ll be constructing a visual representation of water usage daily activity, like showering or flushing the toilet,” said EAC President Laura George `16.
DAWG (Davidson Animal Welfare Group), a student group, will sponsor two events. “First, we are encouraging students to take a 3, 5, or 7 day Veg Challenge to raise awareness about the devastating environmental effects of animal agriculture,” President Bridget Lavender ‘16 said. “We are also hosting a screening of Cowspiracy, a documentary that looks at those environmental effects and how our diets can save the world.”