By Ivy Haight ’25: Sustainability Programs Fellow

A three-story brick building with benches and spring trees in bloom
The Ecorep program started off strong with the first month’s theme of “All Things Sustainability.” When I was designing this program over the summer and determining the order of the monthly modules, the first one was the hardest to decide – while some topics seemed more pertinent to students than others, it seemed like all of them warranted the center stage for the most crucial month of the year. Given the importance of this first month, I decided that it should essentially be a crash course in all things sustainability at Amherst—a brief summary of all the essentials first-years will need for living sustainably at Amherst.
We kicked off the schoolyear with a highly successful free campus yardsale during orientation, where we first invited international first-year students, then all first-year students, and finally all students, faculty, and staff, to take items that were donated last spring during move-out collection by facilities and the office of sustainability. Items included hangers, bed linens, storage containers, office supplies, lamps, fans, miscellaneous decorations, and more. It was a great way to start off the Ecorep program, get to know the other Ecoreps, and develop a connection with first-years and their families.

A significant portion of the month was spent promoting small habits that can make a big difference in residence hall living—actions like turning off lights in your room when you’re gone, reporting shower/faucet leaks to Ecoreps or facilities, washing laundry with cold water, using drying racks, and learning about the Amherst waste stream were some of the main tips we gave first-years via posters, Instagram, and messaging in residence hall group chats. We also attended meetings in our residence halls and hosted “office hours” in the common room—an open hour where we were available to answer questions about sustainability and often had snacks and trivia for our residents. One teatime/office hour was spent promoting the Living Guide, which outlines all the different ways students can live sustainably on campus.

One of the best moments of this month for me was when a first-year from Williston (my first-year res hall) came up to me in Val during the first week of school and told me about a leak in one of the showers. I reported the leak to facilities and it was fixed in the next few days. The fact that he had remembered who I was, my name, what I do, and how he can play a role in promoting sustainability on campus, reassured me that the message of the office of sustainability was reaching our first-years. Another incredible moment was during one of my first office hours, when one of my residents sat down and asked me about how he could get involved with the office of sustainability (clubs, fellowships, classes, etc.). These instances continue to remind me that being an Ecorep means spreading the word about sustainability on campus; inevitably, some students won’t listen, but some will take it to heart and incorporate it into their daily lives and even become sustainability leaders on campus, and that makes all of the hard work worth it.

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