Ryan Densen ’17, an economics major from Acton, Mass., has taken a primary leadership role in the campus Eco Representatives (EcoReps) Program as student coordinator.
Responsible for proposing and carrying out projects and goals for the 2015-2016 academic year, Densen aims to facilitate environmental, economic, and social responsibility across campus. During the week leading up to the start of classes, he is joined by a new team of EcoReps who will act as campus liaisons in educating their peers on sustainable living practices. They will also be responsible for helping implement Densen’s planned initiatives for the semester.
“After seeing this internship opening, it seemed like something I wanted to do,” explains Densen. “I was most looking forward to two things: making and accomplishing my own initiatives, and being responsible for contacting people to make a successful EcoRep training schedule.”
With mentorship from Adam Maurer, sustainability manager, Densen has been successful in directing the focus of the program toward the Colleges’ residential areas. Each month, a specific sustainability initiative will be promoted, beginning with “No Disposable Plastic Water Bottles Month” in September.
Additionally, Densen is spearheading a personal project which he hopes will encourage recycling campus-wide, including fraternity houses. Each house will be given one or two recycling buckets, depending on house size, with corresponding Greek letters painted on the outside. The designated fraternity recycling buckets, aim to create an inclusive environmentalist atmosphere on campus, garnering student participation from as many groups as possible. All recycling bins in first year rooms and staff offices will include a sticker with a simple guide to recycling at HWS. Additionally, new informational signs will be posted near common recycling bins in resident halls, serving to remind students what is and isn’t recyclable in Ontario County.
“It’s always a pleasure working with students at HWS to help them implement their sustainability ideas on campus,” says Maurer. “Ryan’s a very creative student and his energy leads to great ideas and task management. Such qualities have not only allowed us to complete a bunch of sustainability projects this summer, but will undoubtedly serve him well moving forward.”
Also on the radar for this semester is a focus on food composting. EcoReps will be present at large outdoor catered events such as Homecoming/Family weekend, football Games, and other sporting events to help attendees sort their recyclables, organics, and trash at point of disposal.
Seeking to add new voices to the conversation on sustainability, Densen enthusiastically comments on the collaborative efforts that are scheduled to take place between the EcoRep program and Orientation led activities:
“We are involved in making sure that EcoReps are there to answer any questions students have about sustainable practices. Stationed EcoReps can be approached at any time to determine what is recyclable, for example. At HWS Night Out, first-year students will have the opportunity to pledge to use water bottles and reusable containers. There will also be a lightbulb exchange for energy efficient ones. We want to get first-years as involved as possible, because they are the future of this campus.”
In addition to these newer projects, many tried-and-true initiatives will be continued throughout the semester, including Trayless Tuesdays, Zipcars, and the Yellow Bike Program. “It’s a lot of the little things which really count,” remarks Densen.
As the semester begins to commence, students can expect to see many of these initiatives promoted throughout campus and are welcome to inquire about becoming an EcoRep in the future. Densen notes that anybody who applies and is approved mid-semester can go through “EcoRep Speed Training,” an abbreviated informational education session on sustainable practices.
With a yearlong EcoRep coordinating commitment ahead of him, Densen hopes to continue undergoing a personal “green” transformation, noting that he has “become a lot more eco-friendly because of this job.” During the winter months he plans to keep his schedule busy, leading trips to Bristol Mountain Ski Resort with the HWS Free Skiing and Snowboarding Club and serving as its founder and president.
“The most rewarding part of my internship is having learned so much about sustainability and management practices,” says Densen. “The high level of administrative experience and the whole business side of the internship has been incredibly valuable.”