Ohio Wesleyan will celebrate Green Week beginning April 18 with a series of educational and hands-on events. (Photo by Paul Vernon)

Green Week 2022

Ohio Wesleyan Student Event to Celebrate Earth Day and Other Eco-Friendly Initiatives

By Cole Hatcher

One day – or even one week – isn’t enough time to highlight all of the Earth-friendly initiatives being spearheaded on campus this spring by Ohio Wesleyan University students.

Instead, Environment and Sustainability students, residents of the Tree House small living unit, and others are planning a Green Week that will kick off Monday, April 18, and conclude Tuesday, April 26.

“Yep, Green Week and a half,” said John Krygier, Ph.D., professor of Environment & Sustainability.

A Packed Calendar

Students are planning a calendar of activities that includes information about how to reduce, recycle, and repurpose waste along with lunchtime tabling sessions with long-term environmental partners Del-Co Water Company and the city’s Public Utilities Department to discuss sustainability efforts. Both organizations also will share career and internship information.

The Green Week activities will include an April 23 trash cleanup in collaboration with the Unity Community Center and conclude April 26 with students enrolled in a renewable energy course presenting their research at 10:30 a.m. in the atrium of Schimmel/Conrades Science Center.

Treehouse moderator SK Bulander ’23 of Los Angeles, California, is coordinating this year’s events calendar.

“2040 is the non-negotiable deadline of overhauling our fossil fuel-dependent world before the Earth reaches a global average temperature of 1.5°C and is irreversibly damaged,” said Bulander, an Environmental Science and English (Literature) double major. “In the shadow of such a gargantuan task, it can be terrifying and stressful to even consider the idea of sustainability. My vision for Green Week is that it will give OWU students the tools to make meaningful lifestyle changes that are bite-sized.”

Numerous Opportunities to Get Involved

“Look for activities like ‘Plant-based Problem Solving,’ where students can learn about everyday low-waste and plant-based swaps, and ‘Bee-less Wax Wraps,’ which will instruct on how to make vegan wax wraps as an alternative to plastic wrap, plastic bags, tin foil, plastic lids, and many other single-use items. Make sure to donate old clothes to the pop-up campus trade store and pick up some new, re-used fits,” Bulander continued.

“Meanwhile, Green Week will provide students with a space to analyze the corporate forces driving the climate crisis,” she said. “This includes events like ‘An Introduction to Textiles,’ wherein students will learn about the environmental impacts of the textile industry, and ‘The Root of it: How Community Gardens in the U.S. Combat Food Insecurity,’ at which students can participate in a discussion panel with local community gardens and OWU professors on food insecurity at both the national and local level.

I hope that it will be apparent that there are numerous on-campus and nearby groups pushing for environmental action,” Bulander concluded. “Students looking to get more involved in the environmental side of OWU should join the Sustainability Task Force for monthly meetings that bring together the university’s administrators, faculty, staff, and students for updates on OWU’s environmental movements. It provides a great space for networking for careers in sustainability and acts as an excellent starting point for becoming more involved in clubs. I would also recommend they try out Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) to advocate for local, bipartisan carbon emission-cutting legislation, especially in our extremely divisive political landscape today.”

May Move Out Recycling

On Earth Day (April 22), the group will launch this year’s May Move Out initiative, which urges students to donate usable clothing, books, furniture, household goods, and other items as they clear out their rooms at the end of the semester. Begun in 2012, the decade-old program typically recovers 10 tons of material annually that otherwise would go to a landfill.

Large, temporary storage pods will be set up to collect donations in parking lots at the Chi Phi fraternity on Williams Drive and at the Bradford Milligan, Smith, Stuyvesant, and Welch residence halls. Items will be accepted from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. from April 22 through May 5 and then donated to Goodwill. For more information and a list of acceptable items and donation dates, visit maymoveout.owu.edu.

May Move Out coordinator Graham Steed ’23 of Marion, Ohio, said he hopes students take the time to sort and donate all of their recyclables.

“Each item they dispose of has great impact on the well-being of our ecosystem and society,” said Steed, an Environmental Studies major. “Not only does each piece of trash travel great distances to landfills within our country or others, which produces large amounts of CO2, but also once they get there, they pollute the local community from toxic runoff. These communities are most often poor and communities of color, which further adds an intersectional aspect to this issue.”

Recovering Food, Nourishing Others

In addition to Green Week and May Move Out, Ohio Wesleyan students this semester also are relaunching an initiative to share unused dining hall food with the community. Ohio Wesleyan is a member of the national Food Recovery Network.

Students Abby Charlton ’25 of Newark, Ohio, and Savannah Domenech ’25 of Webster, New York, are overseeing this renewed effort, which includes collecting unused food once a week.

Domenech, an Environmental Studies and Geography double major, said of a recent collection, “we got over 30 pounds of food consisting of buffalo chicken, beef brisket, steamed rice, and mixed vegetables. However, in the past, the club has gotten over a hundred pounds of food for one recovery. After we weigh the food, we cart it over to Grace Clinic across the street, and they distribute it to their patients.”

Improving Water Quality

Another initiative restored this semester is the use of a storm net to collect debris from the Delaware Run, which flows through the north side of campus on its way to the Olentangy River. The 13,000-pound, 4-foot-high, 18.5-foot-wide, concrete-weighted storm net structure was installed into the Delaware Run in 2019, prior to the pandemic.

Students Logan Honchul ’24 of Trenton, Ohio, and AJ Lashway ’23 of Niskayuna, New York, began working with the City of Delaware’s Department of Public Utilities this semester to restore the net, monitor it, and analyze the items collected.

“I’m hoping to get more experience in water-quality testing, since my background in that aspect is more limited,” said Lashway, a Zoology, Environmental Science, and Creative Writing triple major. “It’s such an important part of understanding the health of bodies of water, so I’m excited to get better at properly analyzing the collected data. It will also be a great experience to be able potentially make changes based on the information we gather.”

Honchul said she also is interested in learning and honing skills to support her career goal of working in wildlife conservation.

“As a Zoology major, I have a strong passion for animals, and working with them in any capacity excites me,” said Honchul, who is double majoring in Environmental Science and minoring in Communications. “I hope I am able to help improve the local wildlife habitat. I hope to learn about how much litter and debris really affect local water life.”

Learn more about Ohio Wesleyan’s Department of Environment and Sustainability at owu.edu/environment.