A new team of HWS Eco Representatives (EcoReps) will assemble this summer to help advance environmental sustainability on campus in addition to the Colleges’ longstanding commitment to environmental leadership and sustainable practices. The EcoRep program employs a group of passionate HWS students of every class year to encourage economic, social and environmental responsibility among their peers.
“EcoReps are dedicated student volunteers with an interest in being change makers toward a more sustainable campus,” says Adam Maurer, the HWS sustainability manager who oversees the EcoRep program. “Our EcoReps help with numerous programs that we put together such as RecycleMania and the Green Room Certification, which acts as a survey to inform students of how they can live more sustainable lifestyles. Some of our short-term goals are to hit 30 percent recycling rates around campus, reduce the use of single use plastic water bottles and increase sustainable food offerings.”
This year, the program is taking a special focus on the Colleges’ residential areas. In addition to running energy and recycling competitions in residence halls, EcoReps will promote a specific sustainability initiative each month, beginning with “No Disposable Plastic Water Bottles Month” in September. The EcoRep program is now accepting applications through Friday, July 3. Applications can be submitted online.
EcoRep coordinator Ryan Densen ’17 is also working to encourage recycling in fraternity houses with the addition of new recycling bins. Informational stickers on bins across campus will remind students and staff what is and isn’t recyclable in Ontario County.
“This is my first year as EcoRep Coordinator, and from what I have seen, there is a large effort to make this school more sustainable,” Densen says. “I can also see that there are some areas that need some help and improvements.”
Launched in 2010 by former Sustainability Manager Jamie Landi ’08 and Anna Hertlein ’12, the EcoRep program has continued to bring forward impressive sustainability initiatives by HWS students since its creation. During the spring semester, the Colleges were in the national spotlight for the ongoing efforts taking place on campus.
Recognized as one of North America’s most environmentally responsible schools, HWS was included among the select institutions featured in the 2015 edition of The Princeton Review‘s “Guide to 353 Green Colleges.” Now in its sixth year, the annual guide lauds colleges and universities with the most exceptional commitments to sustainability based on academic offerings and career preparation, campus policies, initiatives and activities. It was the fourth consecutive year the Colleges have been honored.
In addition, Hobart and William Smith were named a member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Leadership Club, an elite group of institutions that are demonstrating exemplary environmental leadership.
Both “green” honors this spring arrived at the same time that HWS kicked off the annual celebration of Earth Week which featured a wide range of programs, including scholarly talks, a farmers’ market and an Arbor Day tree planting.
“So many sustainability ideas and projects are the creation and brainchild of HWS students,” Maurer says. “It is real world experience as HWS seeks to use the campus as a living laboratory for sustainability ideas.”
Maurer also encourages students to join some of the other environmentally-focused organizations on campus, including Campus Greens and the Sustainable Foods Club. Students are also encouraged to recycle and compost, turn off lights when not in use and limit their use of water.