The VSG Environmental Committee’s Thrift Shop is an example of how students and staff can get involved with green activities on campus. (Philip Gubbins)
The VSG Environmental Committee’s Thrift Shop is an example of how students and staff can get involved with green activities on campus.

Philip Gubbins

Environmentality: A model for environmental activism at Vanderbilt

There are a lot of opportunities for students to be environmentally friendly

January 25, 2020

On Jan. 17 and 18, the VSG Environmental Committee’s Thrift Shop was a major success with over 2,000 items exchanged and over 500 students and staff participating. That is 2,000 pieces of clothing which are now being reused rather than thrown away or locked up in a closet somewhere. Hopefully these coats, pants, shirts, shoes, sweaters and more will offset the need for the thrift shop’s participants to go shopping. Reusing, instead of buying new clothes, is one way students can help the environment, considering the resource intensive process of making clothes.

VSG’s Environmental Committee’s dedicated staff was instrumental in bringing this event to life. If you, too, believe you can do environmental good, I recommend checking out a number of environmental resources on campus, including the Green Fund. This fund provides $150,000 for student sustainability projects and just had their administration-assisted Green-a-thon on Jan. 24 to help participants develop their ideas. There is also the VSG Environmental Committee which students can apply for at the beginning of the academic year.

Students Promoting Environmental Awareness and Responsibility (SPEAR) is another great resource. Just last year they hosted a Renewable Energy Campaign which gained over 3,500 signatures, demonstrating how significant their reach can be. Lately they have been focusing on sustainable gardening, dining, service and outreach through various smaller events. SPEAR is collaborating with VSG this semester on a Sustainability Summit, taking place March 27 and 28. Professors, organizations and companies will be discussing environmental activism and career opportunities. If you’re interested in getting involved, I recommend checking them out on Anchorlink and going to one of their events.

I also want to highlight the university’s more recent sustainable initiatives. Within the past year, Vanderbilt has announced incredible renewable energy, zero carbon and zero waste commitments in the next couple of decades to come. There are opportunities to work with the university on these goals through VSG and SPEAR, especially with the recent Sustainability Leaders program put on by FutureVU.

What I want to emphasize through the success of the thrift shop initiative is how individuals can make a huge impact with their actions, rather than just sitting stagnant in apathy. If you take advantage of one of the opportunities I mentioned above or other opportunities to be green, I advise you to go in with an open mind and a stubborn hope to do good. Even if you don’t want to engage in these organizations and the bureaucracy which always abounds within, I encourage you to consider how your individual actions could have consequences on the environment and how you can change them to be more beneficial instead of harmful.

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