Dartmouth EcoReps are a team of 10 first-year students and 2 senior managers. The EcoReps program is designed to teach first-years how to create organizational change on campus. Students learn where to find resources, how to network and build partnerships, and how to communicate and build a campaign. The program helps students find where they fit on the spectrum of creating positive change and helps them identify what unique passions and strengths they can contribute to the team! This year’s EcoReps choose to focus their skills on Dartmouth’s efforts to reduce waste on campus. Their initiatives fell into three categories:
1. Raise Awareness About the Amount of Waste Generated on Campus The group organized Garbage: an Artistic Wasteland, an art exhibit that showcased art that repurposed waste materials ranging from electronics to recycled paper to scrap bike parts.
EcoReps also organized a Zero-Waste Challenge that encouraged students to reflect on the amount of waste they generate individually in a day. EcoReps challenged students to fit the waste they generated over the course of three days into a single mason jar. Around 70 students signed up to participate, and only half of the students who signed up were able to complete the challenge. Many reported the experience as an awesome way to learn about how much waste and what types of waste they generate on campus. Noting how much waste is generated from food packaging, one student explained that a helpful strategy was eating as many apples and bananas as they could for three days!
2. Teach Students how to Properly Sort Waste and Reduce the Number of Non-Recyclables Contaminating Recycling Bins
EcoReps hosted workshops through the Dartmouth Wellness Center, the Residence Hall Undergraduate Advisors, and the Orientation Teams to teach students how to sort waste and to encourage waste reduction. They also tabled in popular student locations throughout the year to raise awareness and answer questions about sorting. Finally, the group created a “Tastemade” style video demonstrating how to sort waste into recycling and trash bins on campus:
3. Work with Dartmouth Dining Services on Waste Reduction Initiatives in Campus Dining Halls
The group's final initiative was to support Dining Services' work on sustainability and communicate to students that Dining Services staff care about sustainability. EcoReps collaborated with Humans of Dartmouth, another student organization, to share stories and reflections from DDS workers through social media.
The group worked closely with dining services staff to expand the reusable “Green2Go” container system to the Hopkins Center Courtyard Cafe and supported Dining Service’s efforts to improve the program and continue to make it a success on campus.
EcoReps also worked with Dining Services to hold a food waste audit in Dartmouth’s all-you-can eat dining hall, The Class of '53 Commons or "Foco." The event helped students reflect on food choices they make on campus and understand strategies for reducing the amount of food waste they individually generate.
We're very proud of our EcoReps team and their campaign this year. We can't wait to see what they will accomplish as future sustainability leaders at Dartmouth!