April brings all the usual sights and sounds to the College of Charleston. Chirping birds, blooming flowers, the unmistakable “whap” of flip-flops smacking against brick sidewalks — and students sifting through trash on Cougar Mall as part of Sustainability Week.
Now in its sixth year, Sustainability Week brings greater focus on important issues to the College and is organized by Office of Sustainability. The five-day series of events, speakers and workshops runs from Monday, April 3, 2017, through Friday, April 7, 2017.
The week kicked off with an annual waste audit on Monday. Students from the Office of Sustainability collected one day’s worth of trash from several buildings around campus and methodically sorted through it to analyze the quantity and the contents of the refuse. (video above.)
“The waste audit allows us to gather important longitudinal data on our waste and particularly how much of that material that was designated for the landfill could be recycled,” says Brian Fisher, the director of sustainability at the College. “More importantly, it provides an optic that displays the less appealing side of our consumptive patterns. The amount of waste that is recyclable demonstrates clearly what is within our control to change as a community. And changing our behavior is critical to being more sustainable.”
Fisher says that the goals of Sustainability Week have remained the same since the inaugural event in 2011.
“This event helps us to generate heightened awareness regarding the breadth of sustainability issues that confront us each day – in our personal lives, in our campus community and as global citizens,” he says. “We think it’s important to explore the depth of sustainability issues in a thematically driven way in order to provide greater understanding about those issues and to encourage reflection – and ideally action.”
The topics highlighted during Sustainability Week span the spectrum from immigration politics to plastic pollution to the importance of do-it-yourself skills. Events include forums on gender equity, social justice and sustainability policy, a DIY candle-making workshop on Wednesday night and a postcard-writing party on Friday afternoon where students can let their lawmakers know what sustainability issues they care about.
For an overview of the activities and a listing of events, check out the Office of Sustainability’s Facebook page.