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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Students gather to tackle sustainability at info fair

Students have the power to change the world. It can be as simple as turning off a light.

Sustainability and student involvement was a common theme during the Environmental Club Kickoff on Tuesday, Oct. 4. At the event, environmental clubs and organizations held quick information sessions for interested students. Club representatives discussed ways for students to become involved with programs tackling sustainability issues.

“Students have so much power,” senior Trisha Patterson said. “Students can wield that power for a greater change.”

Patterson is involved with Students for Renewable Energy, one of the 10 clubs showcased at the event.

Students for Renewable Energy is the longest standing environmental club on campus. There is a wide scope of focus within the club. Members advocate for climate justice, as well as involve themselves with Whatcom County politics.

Outside of joining clubs, students can utilize their passions to make a change. From protesting to making the switch to a plant-based diet, everyone has the ability to take action, Environmental and Sustainability Program Director Anna Kemper said.

“There are so many different ways to be an activist,” Kemper said.

Senior Kellen Erb works with the Residents’ Resource Awareness Program. The program educates students living in the residence halls on sustainable practices. Residents can apply to serve as their dorm’s eco-rep as well. Erb hopes people will take the knowledge they learn at Western and implement it into their daily lives, she said.

“Empowering each other and supporting each other as change-makers is super important.”

Anna Kemper, Environmental and Sustainability Program Director

Sustainability is often thrown around as an all-encompassing buzzword. Erb doesn’t want students to be afraid of it, she said.

“It’s as easy as turning off your lights when you leave your dorm,” Erb said. “Even that can make a huge difference.”

Everyday tasks can make an impact. Unplugging devices not in use, taking shorter showers and wearing a sweater instead of turning on the heat can drastically decrease your footprint, Erb said.

Patterson became involved with working toward a sustainable future when she realized she didn’t want to look back with regret. She wanted to be a part of the solution. She wanted to try.

“Sustainability and caring about the environment, caring for other beings, and caring for other people, it’s for everyone,” Patterson said. “It’s not just this thing that other people do.”

Sustainability is an ever-changing concept, Patterson said. There are a lot of voices in a variety of disciplines that have to be heard.

The environmental club community is vastly interconnected. Even if you’re in an unrelated major, you can still be a part of the movement, Kemper said.

“Empowering each other and supporting each other as change-makers is super important,” Kemper said.

Students can take the concepts they’ve learned from Western and make a real impact on the world after they graduate, Patterson said.

“It might seem small and incremental, but it’s just planting the seeds,” Patterson said. “[Sustainability] is something that everyone can apply to their life in some way.”

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