MARQUETTE, MICH., (WJMN) – October is Campus Sustainability Month recognized by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
Jes Thompson, a professor at NMU’s College of Business, is the advisor for EcoReps an organization of students says they are hosting events the week of October 12 – 16 that will educate people on campus and community members about sustainability.
“Tomorrow is about self and health, and you can really think of sustainability in three different arenas; social, environmental and economic, but at the core of that is the human, the individual and knowing how to keep yourself healthy often depends on making sustainable choices,” said Thompson. “And so, we will have all sorts of information about living a sustainable lifestyle and we’re going to host an outdoor yoga class on the academic mall, socially distanced and in masks.”
Other focuses of the week include local foods and growing one’s own food, community partnership and advocacy and collaborating with Indigenous People’s Day. Thompson says they will be hosting a harvest party with the NMU Garden Club to show their garden and talk about how foods can be grown in the Northern Michigan climate.
“Also we want to encourage people to support all of the agriculture and farmers in our community because that is a critical piece to a sustainable community,” said Thompson. “And then what we want to do with the rest of the week is showcase all of the partners and organizations that are doing their bit to make our local community and region healthy and sustainable and economically viable.”
Sustainability isn’t just one thing that can be done, Thompson says there are hundreds of different things that hundreds of groups of people can do to contribute. At the local level there is the most opportunity to make a difference.
“Sustainability is about making socially aware, ecologically minded and economical decisions that not only help our generation but the next generation and the generation after that and seven generations down the line have an opportunity to live on a healthy planet,” said Thompson.
Thompson says many students come to NMU wanting to know how they can make a difference and are enthusiastic about the environment. She says they love this place and want to know what they can do today.
“EcoReps is all about showing little things to big things, actions that make a difference,” said Thompson. “And giving people a place to practice that, the university is a great laboratory for trying out new ideas and new things and sustainability is just one of these life lessons that we hope our students leave the university with.”
EcoReps is also partnering with Recycle 906 to collect glass containers. They will have a dumpster between the library and Jamrich Building in lot 28 on NMU’s campus all week to see how much glass they can collect.
“This is an exciting moment for our community because glass recycling is coming back and we just wanted to make that a big part of our message this week,” said Thompson.
Northern Michigan University recently was awarded a silver rating for its sustainability from the AASHE Thompson says EcoReps is a big part of that rating for their outreach in events like the ones during sustainability week.
“The whole month of October is sustainable campus month, but we are excited because last year we did an audit of NMU’s efforts to be more sustainable and in the previous audit we had earned a bronze,” said Thompson. “And this year we earned a silver, honestly because of the student organization called EcoReps that has been doing so much on campus from fix-it Friday, and bike week and they host clothing swaps and they have workshops on all sort of different sustainable lifestyle things.”
NMU also has a Sustainability Advisory Council made up of faculty, staff and students that advises the president, the university’s sustainability coordinator and the senior leadership team regarding issues and opportunities of sustainability. They will present their audit update on Friday, October 16.
The schedule of events is as follows and anyone is welcome to attend:
Monday, October 12: Collaborating with Indigenous People’s Day. Opening ceremony at 10 a.m., keynote speaker Frank Ettawageshik from 6-9 pm. via Zoom (http://cglink.me/r823529).
Tuesday, October 13: Sustainable Self and Health. Yoga at noon, followed by a Health and Wellness Info Fair from 1-3 p.m.
Wednesday, October 14: Markets and Gardens. Mini farmers’ market from noon to 4 p.m., followed by a Harvest Party at the NMU Community Gardens (by the Lincoln Street apartments).
Thursday, October 15: Resilient Communities, with a focus on community and advocacy, noon to 4 p.m.
Friday, October 16: Sustainability Summit. NMU’s Sustainability Audit Update delivered by Sustainability Advisory Committee reps at noon via Zoom link https://nmu.zoom.us/j/94667563546, followed by another Harvest Party at the NMU Community Gardens from 1-3 p.m.
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