Eco-Reps keep students informed on sustainability
Students' key project is providing a "transparent, self-reporting framework" to gauge progress on campus environmental initiatives
This year, Saint Michael’s College has three student Environmental-Representatives (Eco-Reps) on campus. These Eco-Reps are undergraduate leaders with a goal of informing students about sustainability issues as well as leading initiatives for improving the sustainable practices on campus.
This year, the Eco-Reps are tackling the project of completing an AASHE STARS report for the college. The STARS program is a part of AASHE (The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) and is a “transparent, self-reporting framework for colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance.” These reports are done every couple of years to measure the level of sustainability present on campus, the last of which having been reported in 2017 and achieving a silver rating.
The three Eco-Reps come from a variety of backgrounds, though all with a shared interest in protecting the environment. Gabby LaRiviere (class of 2021) is a junior environmental studies and religious studies double major from Swampscott, Massachusetts, who believes that “living sustainably is super important for the present status and future status of our planet.” She is working towards creating a more sustainable atmosphere on campus.
Sophomore Gina Atkinson is also a part of the Eco-Rep program and is an environmental science major and art minor from Canton, Connecticut. With her appreciation of art and nature, she is “excited to get to work on sustainability driven projects this year as well as get to know so many people who share mutual interest in environmental issues.” Her main focus is on sustainable dining and assisting with end-of-the-year projects that will redirect waste to be recycled or reused, cutting back on the amount of waste that the campus community generates.
The third Eco-Rep is a new member of the Saint Mike’s community this year. “I look forward to finding ways to shrink the gap between our current impact on the environment and where we, as a community, want our impact to be,” said freshman Josh Doubiago, a music major and creative writing minor from Adams, Massachusetts. Having decided to attend Saint Michael’s College due to the sustainable mindset present on campus, he said he hopes to reduce the amount of waste produced by the community, both in terms of electricity and physical trash.
The Eco-Reps and the filing of the STARS report is headed by Karen Talentino, professor of biology and environmental science courses. The former vice president for academic affairs and also as 12-year member of the biology faculty is working to make visible improvements to the campus in terms of sustainability. Talentino said she is “committed to trying to follow a more sustainable lifestyle, and have enjoyed working with the Eco-Reps this year to focus on reducing single-use plastics on campus.”
This upcoming report will be the second report submitted by the college to the STARS program, the first having been submitted in 2017 when it achieved a silver rating. The report covers aspects from across the spectrum in terms of the campus’ sustainability practices, including facilities/transportation, energy and waste use, campus engagement, as well as the academic curriculum. The goal is to document any improvements or shortfalls of campus programs since the last (and only) report on file from 2017. With this information, the College is looking to identify areas where further attention can be garnered. With the Center for the Environment opening, installation of the tree nursery, and increase in sustainable practices, the College hopes to achieve a gold rating.