Feature Story

June 5, 2024 | By Cole Hatcher

Abby Charlton '25 (left) and Logan Fraire '24 helped collect 2,940 tons of recyclable goods to donate to Goodwill Industries as students moved out of their Ohio Wesleyan residences for the summer. (Photo courtesy of Kahlil Mitchell-Smith '25)

Planet Protectors

Ohio Wesleyan Students Work to Engage Campus, Community in Conservation Efforts

Ohio Wesleyan University students involved in the Environment & Sustainability Department are working to make OWU red, black, and green.

Highlights of their work each year include Green Week, which typically coincides with Earth Day, and May Move Out, which encourages students to donate good-quality furniture, household items, and clothing to Goodwill Industries rather than consigning the items to landfills.

Students this year also expanded the 14-year-old May Move Out program to collect unopened, unexpired, nonperishable food and toiletries to donate to People In Need (PIN) of Delaware County.

Overall, students cleaning out their on-campus residences in April and May donated 200 pounds of food and toiletries to People In Need and 2,940 tons of usable items to Goodwill Industries of Delaware, Union, Marion, Crawford, and Morrow counties.

Abby Charlton '25 (from left), Logan Fraire '24, and Kahlil Mitchell-Smith '25 worked with People in Need of Delaware County this spring to collect 200 pounds of donatable food and toiletries to share with the local nonprofit. (Photo courtesy of Kahlil Mitchell-Smith '25)

An Engaging Week

In addition to May Move Out, Ohio Wesleyan students also collaborate annually to envision and execute a series of educational and entertaining Green Week activities.

"I believe that Green Week is important because it gives students a variety of opportunities to cultivate and develop their appreciation for our beautiful planet," said Kahlil Mitchell-Smith '25, OWU's 2023-2024 student sustainability coordinator. "This process is multifaceted, multidisciplinary, and innately collaborative. Students engage in all kinds of events including service projects, fun crafts, off-campus trips to engage with the community, and much more."

For his project, Mitchell-Smith invited his OWU peers to create insect drinking bowls, which help pollinators to hydrate without fear of drowning. Green Week also included a screening of "Kiss the Ground," a documentary about regenerative agriculture, at the Strand Theatre; a community trash cleanup; an Earth Day tree planting in collaboration with the City of Delaware; a craft project to turn old teabags into decorative lanterns (and used tea into fertilizer); and a free campus store to enable students to donate or trade used clothing.

"I am especially fond of the collaborative aspect of Green Week," said Mitchell-Smith, an Environmental Studies and Philosophy double major from Salem, Massachusetts, "as it provides an amazing opportunity to bring people of various backgrounds together and grow connections within OWU student circles and between students and the wider Delaware community."

Planning for the Future

The planning commission for this year's Green Week and May Move Out included Mitchell-Smith, Abby Charlton '25 of Newark, Ohio, and Logan Fraire '24 of Gahanna, Ohio. Green Week also brought together members of OWU's Tree House and SEAL (Service Engagement and Leadership) small living units, the Sustainable Delaware community organization, the City of Delaware, the Strand Theatre, and others.

To make the students' efforts even more impactful, Mitchell-Smith said, the Environment & Sustainability Department (ENVS) expects to combine the current responsibilities of the student sustainability coordinator and ENVS department manager into a new, hybrid position that will be split among four students. For 2024-2025, they will be Mitchell-Smith, Charlton, Savannah Domenech '25 of Webster, New York, and Amelia Thrasher '25 of Delaware, Ohio.

Learn more about OWU's Environment & Sustainability Department and its majors, minors, and other opportunities at owu.edu/environment.