F&M Sustainability Week Urges Water Conservation, Waste Reduction

  • Nic Auwaerter '11, sustainability coordinator for Facilities & Operations, fills up at one of the College's water bottle filling stations, installed this summer to reduce waste from plastic bottles. Through Oct. 1, the campus had saved the usage of an estimated 60,602 disposable water bottles. (Photo by Melissa Hess)

By Warren Glynn '15

A wild foods workshop, a talk by renowned environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and a trash-inspired fashion show are some of the highlights of Franklin & Marshall College's Sustainability Week, which began Sunday, Sept. 29, and continues through Saturday, Oct. 5.

The themes of the annual series of events, sponsored by the College's Wohlsen Center for the Sustainable Environment, are conserving water and reducing waste.

"Sustainability Week, which in previous years has been observed in April to coincide with Earth Day, is a time when we make a concerted effort to educate the campus about consumption," said Sarah Dawson, director of the Wohlsen Center. The Wohlsen Center moved up Sustainability Week to get the campus participating in sustainability efforts closer to the start of the year. "We absolutely encourage students and staff to become involved as we all work to become more educated consumers."

Several groups planned the agenda for Sustainability Week, including the College's Sustainability Committee, students studying environmental science, and F&M's Facilities & Operations Department.

"We do a lot of the groundwork," said Nic Auwaerter '11, sustainability coordinator for Facilities & Operations. Throughout the week, Auwaerter is tallying daily usage at the College's water bottle filling stations, installed this summer to reduce waste from plastic bottles. Through Tuesday morning, the campus had saved the usage of an estimated 60,602 disposable water bottles. 

The headlining event of Sustainability Week will be Thursday's Common Hour lecture by Kennedy, the environmental activist and attorney who has led a number of legal cases to protect rivers and resources across the country. He will speak about the role natural resources play in our daily lives and identity as Americans.

Other events include a meditation on water at the Millport Conservatory, a food workshop series and the annual Trashion Show, where students make and display outfits made entirely from discarded materials, as well as a free Fair Trade Cafe lunch sponsored by the student Environmental Action Alliance. The lunch will feature only local, organic foods.

"I hope members of the community will be impressed by what they learn throughout the week," said senior Dan Freire, who has worked at the Wohlsen Center for three years. "It can be easy in the hustle and bustle of classes and athletics to lose sight of the bigger picture we are all a part of. Sustainability Week provides an opportunity to pause and reflect."

Here is the full list of dates and times for the week's events:

  • Lancaster County Park naturalist Lisa Sanchez will lead a Wild Foods Workshop at the Wohlsen Center at 5 p.m. Tuesday. The workshop is free to the campus community, but space is limited. Please email Kim Warshawsky to reserve a spot.
  • A free Fair Trade Cafe will be held at the Wohlsen Center for the campus community at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday. Infused water will also be available for those who bring their own water bottles.
  • Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will give a Common Hour talk titled "Our Environmental Destiny" at 11:30 a.m. Thursday. A reception will follow at New College House. 
  • The annual Trashion Show will be held at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the atrium of the Steinman College Center. Anyone interested in participating should contact Michelle Bostwick. 
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