HEAG and Slow Food team up for “Green Week”

By Jack Cartwright '15

In an effort to “Go Green” and promote a pro-environmental agenda, the Hamilton Environmental Awareness Group (HEAG) and Hamilton College Slow Food launched their first ever “Green Week” last week to coincide with Earth Day, which took place last Monday.

The members of HEAG and Slow Food decided to come together in order to demonstrate the idea that going green can impact all aspects of a person’s life, including the food they prepare and consume.  Thus, why the week’s motto was  “Live Green.  Eat Green.  Go Green.”

The week was packed with events and lectures as well as information about how members of the greater Hamilton College community can go green: Bon Appetit participated with cooking displays and by giving out information about “low-carbon” food options; Slow Food taught students about sustainable eating; there was a Glen Clean Up Walk; lecturer Tony Wies spoke about “the Meat of the Global Food Crisis;” Trivia Night had an environmental theme; there was a screening of the movie If a Tree Falls; there was a “Pledge to Go Veg!” day on Wednesday where McEwen only served vegetarian options for lunch, and the environmental groups asked people to pledge to be vegetarian that day and provided people with information about environmental hazards that related to meat; Connie Schreppel Ph.D., Director of Water Quality, gave a PowerPoint presentation in the Taylor Science Center about the safety of drinking water in the Mohawk Valley and in support of HEAG’s “Take Back the Tap” campaign; there also was an event on the Hamilton Community Farm.  Throughout the entire week, there was a clothing exchange in Beinecke to trade used clothing, and all leftover clothing was donated.

HEAG President Nora Boylan ’15 said that the goal of Green Week was to raise awareness about sustainability.  “A lot of members of our community are passionate about the Earth and we wanted a week where we could encourage those people to participate in activities and share their thoughts, complaints or ideas,” she said.  Alicia Rost ’15, a member of the executive board of HEAG, added to what Boylan said.  “We tried to do a variety of events so people could see all of the ways the environment is being damaged and that as a consumer we have a lot of power.  We have the power to make ethical decisions on a daily basis, what we eat, what we wear, what we do, etc.,” said Rost.  She added that she thought that current habits of humans are not sustainable, and they wanted to educate students and faculty on what they can do to change their habits in environmentally friendly ways.

Seniors Ellie Fausold ’13 and Lauren Howe ’13, executive members of Slow Food expressed similar sentiments.  “At the end of last semester, we began brainstorming ways to get the word out about the Real Food Challenge initiative that we have started up on campus, which aims to increase the budget percentage of community based, ecologically sound, fair, and humane food served in the campus dining halls,” said Fausold. Some of the main issues with food production, according to Fausold, include: “extreme droughts caused by climate change result in a lessened food supply; trucks, etc. transporting food that travels hundreds or thousands of miles to reach its final destination emit greenhouse gases, and the food also loses nutrients by the time it reaches consumers; large portions of rainforests are being cut down in order to make room to plant major cash crops such as soy; some types of large farming operations can degrade soil quality and speed up soil erosion.”

Howe said that she thought Green Week had a lot of potential to improve the understanding Hamilton College students have about the choices they make when they eat.  “For instance, Bon Appétit’s Low Carbon Diet Day in conjunction with Tony Weis’s ‘The Meat of the Global Food Crisis’ lecture on Monday (Earth Day), as well as the ‘Pledge to go Veg’ inform people about the larger ramifications about their food choices—more specifically, the impact of consuming large amounts of industrial meat and dairy on earth’s climate by increased carbon emissions and also the ethics and effects on the global South,” said Howe.  She co-founded Slow Food her sophomore year after being inspired to learn about the ethics of global hunger, industrial agriculture and animal welfare.

Despite the hype of Green Week, some were disappointed in the lack of enthusiasm over the week.  “To be honest we have been disappointed with the lack of participation from both members of the club, campus and greater community,” said Rost.  Whether students learned from the week, or will implement the things that they learned, remains to be seen.

Nevertheless, Rost will continue because she believes that education is the key to reducing our carbon footprint: “I feel education is a very powerful tool and love sharing knowledge and providing opportunities for others to learn about the critical condition the earth is in and how they can help out.”


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