Issue #9: Learning About Sustainability?

Dear Sustainable Abigail,

Hello! Let me start by saying first, I really value Bates initiatives that aim at increasing Sustainability, and there is nothing I dig more than a campus that cares about such things. Nonetheless, obviously there are a ton of different people on this campus studying a ton of different things, and it seems fair to say that not all of the different majors cover important environmental sustainability topics.  I have recently declared my major, and have found that I am running into this very issue with the classes that I am required to take. I wish I could learn more, but I also love my major and value everything I get from it. I also really feel like even if I knew more generally, I wouldn’t really know how to implement any changes to contribute to my local community (ie. Bates) even though I think it’d be great to do so. How would you recommend expanding my horizons to learn more and then act more, because I do feel like I have a bit of a disadvantage in terms of contributing to a more sustainable world?


At a loss about learning more

Dear At a Loss,

You bring up a good point here. Even though we live in a time where so much information is extremely accessible, it is easy to get caught up in our own field of study and at that, world, and miss out on learning about other things such as Sustainability, let alone take action to contribute to change regarding Sustainability! A quick and easy answer is to check out the Ecorep’s monthly newsletters, which all have valuables facts, initiatives, and resources that can up your sustainability knowledge. There are also opportunities like JA sustainability educational programs, Ecorep facebook and instagram educational posts, and events during Sustainable Ethics week, which is right around the corner. However, this question also calls to mind an incredible exciting opportunity that we have as Bates Students. Bates College is officially a member of the Post-Landfill Action Network (PLAN)!!!! “What is that?” you say, “why do I care?.” Great questions! So, PLAN is a network that aims to connect and support students from college campuses across the campus, and offers a range of opportunities to help these very students to become leaders on campus and make a change by launching zero waste projects. Again, you say “So what?.” Well, here’s what. Being a member of PLAN means that all Bates students with a email address, (i.e.: ALL BATES STUDENTS), have access to Digital Leadership Trainings, Best-Practice Manuals for Waste-Reduction, One-on-One Advising from Plan Staff, and Discounts on Sustainable Products and Services. Simply by using your Bates email address to create an account with PLAN, you will quickly be able to participate in various Workshops and Leadership Certification training sessions such as “Composting Programs,” “Free & Thrift Stores,” “Developing a Zero Waste Road Map,” “Repair Café with iFixit,” and “PLANning a Project from the Ground Up.” These are just a few of the many workshops with which to engage, and learn about sustainability and even better, how to promote it and take action on campus. If that wasn’t great enough, you can turn to the 6 different Best Practices Manuals that they offer members, which give even more info about how to make sustainable changes on campus! If neither of those two were great enough, (and trust me, they’re pretty great), PLAN also offers One-on-One advising with staff members who can go over your questions, ideas, and projects with you step by step over the phone. Wowee that is pretty neat. Finally, as far as the discounts go, while we sustainable people are not huge proponents of consumerism, there are some great companies that PLAN gives Bates students discounts on, including Klean Kanteen (40% off!), Gear Aid, Patagonia, Sheffa, and many more! Now, I know I gave you what essentially seems to amount to a large sales pitch in this answer, but I really do hope I answered your question. Bates is not only sustainable in itself, but really does want to encourage students to participate and engage in that sustainability because we are all incredible and talented people. So, make an account with PLAN, and start right away, because I know you can do a lot! Thanks for writing!!

-Sustainable Abigail

*Content originally published in The Bates Student Newspaper*