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Student Spotlight: Anna Moore

posted Mar 21, 2018, 11:09 AM by Amelia Lewis   [ updated Mar 21, 2018, 11:13 AM ]

How did hear about the Green Room Program?

I first heard about the Green Room Program my first year on campus from an email from the Office of Environmental Sustainability.It wasn’t until I heard Bridget Flynn talk about this program in my class on community based social marketing that I realized I should take advantage of this opportunity to support the kind of evidence-based behavior change programs that I am learning to design.

Is that what prompted you to certify?

Yes, exactly, it was the community based social marketing class that prompted me. Certifying my room is one of the ways I am trying to be more public about the sustainable things that I do. I want there to be a social norm on campus of caring about the environment and by doing things like certifying my room and having the certificate on my door, I can help create that social norm. It is a way that I can influence other people’s behavior through social psychology.

How has your background in social psychology made you think differently about this program?

Given what I’ve learned about the power of public commitments, I wasn’t surprised when I noticed that the program helped me form some new sustainable habits. And I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the social norm aspect has helped the people who live on my hall, too.

What would you like to see changed about the Green Room Form or about sustainability at Oberlin in general? What do you think the college or students could be doing in terms of sustainability?

I think there are kind of two different levels. The college as an institution could be doing more to support sustainable behavior, such as making sure there is a recycling bin next to every trash bin or completely eliminating disposable products. But then there is an individual level and I think there are some places on this campus where it is considered strange to be motivated by environmental concerns (rather than convenience and self- interest) and I think those of us who are motivated by resource conservation or other environmental goals need to confidently assert that so that other people can follow that example without fear of being alone or being considered strange.

What would your perfect sustainable campus look like?

Well, first off recycling bins next to every trash bin! We also would not have very much trash at all because all single-use disposable products would be replaced by reusables. Student would not own cars, which would take away the temptation to drive places when they could walk or bike and (this lack of cars) would create the demand for more sustainable transportation sharing systems. In general, composting and sharing systems would be more available.

Do you have a biggest sustainability pet peeve?

Wasting food! Either taking too much food in the dining hall or letting food go bad in the fridge. As a side note, a research group in the community based social marketing class did a project on food waste in Stevie and they found that you are allowed to ask the server for more or less food. If you don’t ask, then you will get a standard serving size, but if you ask them they are supposed to give you more or less food.

On your form, you had some unique innovations that you got extra points for. These were that you rode the Amtrak train home and stayed on campus for fall break and that you took plastic film to IGA. Could you talk more about them and why they are important?

It takes a lot of energy to get an airplane off the ground and that is one of the reasons I love taking the train and I feel good about supporting it. In general, I’d love to see railroad infrastructure improve in this country and I want to support that with my decisions. I also find trains comfortable and I tend to get a lot of work done on the train but the main reason I take the train is environmental and this is one of the ways I am trying to be more public about the sustainability things I do. When people ask why I am taking the train, I could give them a variety of reasons, but recently I have been trying to focus of the environmental reason to help create that social norm of caring about the environment. I think too often people who are motivated by environmental concerns will cite other reasons for their behavior out of a norm we (society) has to be motivated by self interest.

Do you think that applies to food choices here on campus? I’ve observed that a lot of people are vegan or vegetarian and that some of it is motivated by environmental reasons, do you think people will cite another reason, such as animal rights, instead?

I don’t know, animal rights is also not a self-interest, it is still an altruistic motive. However, I think that animal rights still might be a more accepted answer to food choice than the environmental reason, especially when it’s framed as making the person feel better.  Being vegan or vegetarian for health I think is an even more accepted reason, as it has more to do with self-interest.

I agree, the environmental reason for food choices can often feel accusatory towards people who are eating meat. Justifying why you are making that choice can seem like you are faulting another person for their choice, do you agree with that as well?

Yes, that’s a good point. Citing self-interest is a way to avoid criticizing other people.

Could you talk more about recycling plastic at IGA?

The recycling facility at Oberlin does not want you to put plastic bags in the recycling bins because when they end up at the plant they get tangled in the sorting machinery and clog the machines and to clean it out wastes time and money. Plastic bags and plastic film can be recycled if collected separately. Stores like IGA and Walmart have bins for plastic film at the front doors so I save up a big collection and take it to IGA.

Is there a place on campus where you can leave plastic bags to have it taken to IGA?

I don't think that is an option. The closest plastic bag recycling is IGA. Eliminating plastic bags would be the best option, but it would be good to have a place to deposit bags.

Why is sustainability in general important to you?

For me, sustainability has to do with recognizing the value of food, water, electricity, money, objects, and the people and the work connected to those things. I see sustainability as a matter of respect in that way.

How would you define sustainability?

Well as an Environmental Studies major, I’ve been told I need to be able to define this! I still do not have a definition I am fully happy with. I think of it as a combination of value and respect for material things and the people connected to those material things in the future and the past. It’s a bit vague but that’s how I think about it.

What activities or groups do you participate in at Oberlin that have a sustainability link? Are there things that you are particularly proud that you’ve been able to do at Oberlin?

I am the compost captain for my floor and I’ve loved being part of the community based social marketing research lab. I enjoy biking.

Your are on the basketball and track team, do you think people involved in things that take a lot of time such as sports or play have a harder time accessing sustainability activities?

I think managing time is a challenge for everyone and however you use your time you can use it as an opportunity to learn. Those time consuming things can be really important. For example, on the basketball team I’ve been able to observe group dynamics which is very relevant to social marketing.

Do you have plans for what you want to do in the future?

I am graduating in the spring and I’m hoping to do something relating to waste reduction, it really interests me.

Student Spotlight: Martha Hoffman

posted Jan 24, 2017, 1:33 PM by Liam Russo   [ updated Nov 8, 2017, 9:03 AM ]

Name: Martha

Year: second year

Major: East Asian Studies, Dance
Green Room Certified: Platinum !

How did you hear about the program?
Last year someone sent me a link to the survey.

What prompted you to certify/ Why did you think it was important to certify your room?

I certified last year and it was fun to analyze my room in terms of green-ness. I hadn’t done that before! I wanted to do it again this year, now that I live in a single.

Do you feel that this program is a good way to increase campus-wide sustainability?

I think it’s a good start. It inspired conversations with my friends who saw the certificate on my door. I would love to see more people take the survey. It can serve as a good reminder to rethink the habits you keep.

As the president of Oberlin Meditators and an OCOC Trip Leader, do you believe your experiences with nature have been a huge factor in your motivation to be sustainable?

Part of why I care so much about the environment and why I was excited to participate in this program is because of the real impacts I see the environment make on myself and community members. Leading an OCOC trip this past fall break reminded me of how essential nature is to our brains (especially coming from stressful/chaotic environments like Oberlin). By the end of the trip, I felt so stable and rejuvenated! National Geographic published an article this year about the actual effects being outside has on our physical/mental functioning-- definitely recommend reading it. In my view, meditation and the environment tie together well. It’s funny, but the more I meditate, the more likely I am to spend time outside. The “great outdoors,” even if it’s a small park or the bike path, never fails to serve as a cleansing place for my mind. I’m not an Environmental Studies major, so I don’t understand as well as I should the macro-view of Earth’s environment (i.e. climate change, human use and abuse of our environment, social and political dynamics, etc.). However, I DO know how transformative it is for my lungs to breathe clean air and my eyes to soak in green leaves and mountains. It’s crucial to reframe our wasteful attitudes toward our micro and macro environments so that the Earth can continue to support us, and we can continue to support it.

Has sustainability always been a major part of your life? What was your hometown community like?
I grew up in the middle of organic farms and conservation land, and among many avid nature-lovers. Sustainability and awareness of the environment has always been a big theme in my life. About ten years ago, my family installed solar panels on our roof as part of a statewide incentive program. We produce 120% of our energy needs now! There’s also a pretty rad swap table at our town dump. 50% of my family’s furniture is from there, for sure.

What would your perfect sustainable campus look like?

If every building were designed like the AJLC, I’d be pretty happy. There’s so much more that I’d have to research before answering this, though, especially about our food/water consumption and investments.

Name three sustainable activities that you love to participate in here at Oberlin: (ie bike rides with friends,  ecolympics, making bottle bots etc)

The bike path. V flat. V nice. V sustainable.

My friends and I turn out our room lights sometimes to have dance parties.

Some friends and I compete against each other for going the longest time without buying anything new. This gets ridiculous especially when Oberlin free boxes get involved.  

What is your biggest sustainability pet peeve?
Potentially a controversial subject… But oh my gosh I don’t understand why people flush the toilet after they pee!? It’s literally just different colored liquid. No one is going to die if they see it for two seconds. Washing hands is good, though. Preventing the spread of contagious diseases is generally a good plan.

Student Spotlight: Elsa Mark-Ng

posted Nov 17, 2016, 10:47 AM by Liam Russo   [ updated Dec 12, 2016, 2:35 PM by Bridget Flynn ]

Name: Elsa Mark-Ng

Year: Sophomore (2019)

Major: Environmental Studies
Green Room Certified: Gold

How did you hear about the program?
My roommate from last year got certified so I saw the sign, and I wanted to get one too.

What prompted you to certify/ Why did you think it was important to certify your room?

I wanted to show that I care about the everyday actions that can impact the environment. Even though some people say that small individual actions that the green room programs seeks to promote will not have an impact on the environment, I think that these actions are just the beginning of larger actions. To create a positive impact on the environment, we have to be made uncomfortable and use our privilege to counteract what we take for granted. Taking small actions in everyday life is slightly uncomfortable and out of the norm, but I think it’s really important, and I wanted to show people that I care about the environment and they should too.

Do you feel that this program is a good way to increase campus-wide sustainability?

Yes, I do. I think that seeing the signs on other people’s doors increases interest in the program, but people at Oberlin are so lazy and unmotivated sometimes that they don’t go through the effort to get green room certified. I don’t know if the program is publicized enough or is easily accessible, so that might need to be worked on in order to get more people involved.

What is your relationship with nature at Oberlin?

I appreciate how spread out the campus is because it allows for more green spaces between buildings. I’m from a city where there is considerably less green space, but since there is so much space in rural Ohio, Oberlin is able to really incorporate nature through the campus. Although I don’t get the opportunities to hike or see “wild” nature as much as I do back home, I try to keep that connection to the natural world through my appreciation of the campus’s beauty. A lot of my art relates to nature and the environment, which allows me to keep that connection mentally and emotionally, if not physically.

Has being in a co-op reinforced your sustainable mindset and the ability to work together in a group?

Being in a co-op and seeing the other side of commercial cooking made me see how wasteful the food industry is, although I know that co-ops are better about sustainability than many other commercial food venues. It pains me to see how much food can get thrown out after a meal and how much water is used to rinse vegetables and wash dishes. Seeing this has made me feel even more strongly about how sustainability should be approached, both by individuals and larger groups.

Has sustainability always been a major part of your life? What was your hometown community like?
I grew up in Cambridge, MA, which is a very liberal city. At home and in school, it was always a given to take care of the environment. The environmental club that I was a part of in high school was accessible and did a good job conveying their message to the whole high school, and we talked about the environment in many of my classes. Cambridge has a strong citywide recycling program and a new composting program, which are highly publicized and which people are strongly encouraged to take part in. I was very lucky to be able to grow up in Cambridge and take environmental consciousness as a given. I think that people at home are more conscious of the environment and being sustainable than people are at Oberlin. It was a part of everyday life, and the environment was talked about by probably everyone I knew, but here it seems like it is really easy for people to just ignore their impact on the environment and focus on other issues, which disheartens me because Oberlin’s reputation is being an environmentally conscious campus, and if our whole campus isn’t interested in the environment, then what does that say about other college campuses and the rest of the world?

Do you think this program could be a starting ground for when you own your own home or apartment out of college?

I don’t think the program is specifically a starting ground for me because I’ve been practicing these actions for virtually my whole life. The program is a good way to remind people some easy ways for them to practice sustainability, and I will definitely keep that in mind when I leave Oberlin.

What would your perfect sustainable campus look like?
My perfect sustainable campus would be if everyone knew the extent of their impact on the environment and cared enough to change their ways and talk about it in normal conversation. I would love it if the campus was green enough so that being environmentally sustainable could be taken for granted. I think that there are some classes that should be required to ensure that students are responsible global citizens, and one of those classes should be ENVS 101 so that students can gain a basic level of understanding of the environment. I wish that the environmental studies program could be expanded so that more students are able to take classes in the department.

Name three sustainable activities that you love to participate in here at Oberlin: (ie bike rides with friends,  ecolympics, making bottle bots etc)

Biking! Beekeeping! Pottery (reusing clay)!

What is your biggest sustainability pet peeve?
When people leave the water running when they’re not using it! When people leave the lights on all day on purpose because they’re too lazy to turn them off! When people don’t recycle clean paper or plastic! I have lots of pet peeves.

Student Spotlight: Gabriela Goldsmith

posted Nov 5, 2015, 8:22 AM by Bridget Flynn   [ updated Nov 5, 2015, 8:23 AM ]

green room.jpg

Name: Gabriela Goldsmith

Year: Fourth Year

Major: Environmental Studies 

Green Room Certified: Gold

How did you hear about the program?

I learned about it from people who lived in Keep my first year. Pretty much my entire hall participated.

What prompted you to certify?

I always had a passion for sustainability which is something I didn't really acknowledge. I came to Oberlin wanting to be a doctor. But then I  looked at my essays from applying to Oberlin and realized ‘wow I actually care about environmental studies way more than pre med.’

Why did you think it was important to certify your room?

I think doing it kind of shows an initiative to be environmentally conscious, which Oberlin is known for already. It also reminds you to step out of your comfort zone and do things you haven't done before.

Has sustainability always been a major part of your life?

I'm a student of low income so income, so i’m used to taking 10 minute showers, using little heat, and no air conditioning. It's been a bit of  a transition coming here.  It’s more of just getting frustrated at my housemates for the little things that I’ve always done, like turning off the lights.

Do you think village housing should let you know how much energy you use?

I think it would be really cool to see how much energy i'm using! I don't know exactly how much I use and that could definitely put things into perspective.

Do you feel that this program is a good way to increase sustainability?

It's a little reminder. I think it's very significant to have a program like this because it shows that the college is really trying to do something about sustainability. I think that because Oberlin is known for environmental science, it would be a loss not to have this program. It also doesn't have to stop here, there's so many other programs to join and get involved with in our community.

Do you think this program will be a starting ground for when you own your own home or apartment out of college?

I think definitely because i'm gonna wanna save money on e v e r y t h i n g. I think the financial aspect can convert anyone to be more sustainable.

What would your perfect sustainable campus look like?

I think that when people think of sustainability they think of the small things like turning off the lights. But I think a big part of it is community, like going out and volunteering and getting involved in small projects to be sustainable together.

What is your biggest sustainability pet peeve?

I’m  part of a group called Oberlin Food Rescue and I think when we think of sustainability we forget to think about food. My biggest pet peeve is when people take more food than they can eat and just throw it all out. We need to acknowledge how much we get in the dining halls and move it around to people who need it.

How did you get involved with Oberlin Food Rescue?

It was a winter term project. I was a food justice intern and I absolutely loved it!

Student Spotlight: Abraham Rowe

posted Jun 20, 2014, 12:02 PM by Bridget Flynn

Name: Abraham Rowe 
Year: Fourth
Major: History

How did you hear about the program?

I heard about it from fellow OES intern, Mae Kate Campbell, while planning for Ecolympics. I had heard about it way before in OES meetings, but didn’t know what it was or what it was for.

Were you excited about the program when you heard about it? If so, why?

Yes, I would say so! I think it is a nice way to acknowledge individual students who are thinking about their lifestyle and impact.

What prompted you to take it?

I had free time and it was fresh on my mind. Mostly, it sounded neat so I did it.

Why did you think it was important to certify your room?

The certificate advertises to other people and that’s important. Also, I learned about other stuff I could be doing through it.

Do you feel that the program is a good way to increase sustainability?

Yeah, but maybe as it currently exists the program needs to expand beyond participating members [in sustainability]. We should reach out to much younger people than college students, it would be really cool to “brainwash” kids. The certificates are good though, so is having your name on the internet.

Do you think it is helpful as tool to inform people or as encouragement?

Yes, because a lot of information is provided just when doing the survey. It’s useful because by forcing people to check boxes and think about daily habits and the ways in which they are using resources is a good way to promote change, especially if humans want to be ethical towards humans and non human animals in the future.

Could you envision a program we could do with kids?

Maybe talk to the elementary school. In general, children who are young are the right demographic to aim the program at.

Was the paper certification a motivation?

Heck Yeah! I am an HLEC in Harkness and have an awkwardly decorated door. Having more stuff [on my door] is a good thing.

Are there other things you would have liked to see on the form?

I would have liked to see more things about eating habits. I also felt penalized for walking rather than riding a bike, I would have had more points if I had also ridden a bike, but I rarely ride in cars.

Have you told any other people about the program?

Yes, friends and neighbors.

How would you increase outreach?

Get the program listed in the big book of forms and make first years do it. Also partner with RAs in all the dorms.

Tell me about your history in sustainability and what you are passionate about?

I feel passionate about things that are sustainability related, like animal rights, I think animals are awesome. I am strongly in favor of those things, and acting on them.

I think that in my mind that [animal rights are] related to sustainability because if you are to consider animals to be moral persons then certainly a sustainable world is one in which their life is maximized. Also, I work for OES here and run Ecolympics. I also work in the RPC and OSCA. The cooperative movement is sustainable because it directly challenges financial systems that are not sustainable.

What would your perfect sustainable campus look like?

It would be pretty stringent. We wouldn’t use heaters in the winter. I think moderate discomfort is acceptable. It would involve totally redoing the way that the college spends its money or supports itself also and would involve mandatory student work so that the college could spend less money or invest less in unsustainable things.

Do you have any thoughts on what would be a good way to increase sustainability on campus?

Get rid of hot water in showers and in washing machines.

What are some bigger things that people could do?

Participate in direct action and work to realize their own privilege and the ways they are indirectly oppressing other people.

Are you more interested in systemic or individual actions?

In my mind, attitudes need to be changed on the individual level or habits.

Is there anything you would like to add? 

Student Spotlight: Mae Kate

posted Nov 15, 2013, 1:35 PM by Bridget Flynn   [ updated Nov 15, 2013, 1:38 PM ]

Name: Mae Kate Campbell

Year: First

Expected Major: Geology

Green Room Certified: Gold

How did you hear about the program?

I learned about it while researching Oberlin prior to applying here. I was on the Oberlin website looking at sustainability on campus and found it.

Did the program influence your choice in coming here?

Not really, but it is cool, and my main reason for applying to Oberlin was environmental.

What prompted you to certify?

I thought it was a really unique opportunity for students to see how they are sustainable and how they can improve. Also, I live in Kahn and my RA encouraged us. 

Why did you think it was important to certify your room?

I thought it was important to learn more about what I am already doing, since I am someone who is trying to be more sustainable. I wanted to try to work towards improvement in areas I was incomplete in also.

Do you feel that the program is a good way to increase sustainability?

Definitely. It makes students look at how they are living and what they can do to be more eco-friendly, which I think is helpful.

Have you told any other people about the program?

Yes! I talked to friends after I completed it and asked if they had done it. We talked about our thoughts on the criteria and I prompted other people to certify their rooms as well.


What are your past actions and what are you planning to do?

Now that I have certified my room I am going to work on water use. It made me think about how precious a resource water is and how much I value it. I definitely need to work on my water consumption, though.


What would your perfect sustainable campus look like?

I would like to see Oberlin transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, which I know is an ongoing process and requires a lot of coordination that the college is working on. I would like Oberlin to try to encourage other colleges to do the same. I want to “spread the love” and see everyone go towards renewable energy.

Any suggestions for the program or survey’s improvement?

A lot of people don’t take it seriously. I am not sure how we would increase the number of people invested in it, or have people have a better attitude towards it, or more respect towards the program, but that would be important to move towards. Working towards showing people what a difference their actions are making.

Do you have any suggestions as to what you would like to see in the future?

In terms of sustainability on campus it would be cool to see more sustainability and environmental education in courses that are not environmental courses. There are a lot of things that are not being taught with sustainability in mind, but it could be incorporated to increase student knowledge across the board.


Like an intersectionality of sustainability in other courses other than ENVS?

Yeah. My high school had an environmental literacy program. The point was to imbue as many courses as possible with environmental literacy. People graduated with a lot of knowledge about their impact on the earth and how to mitigate it. I thought that was really cool and would love to see that happen here.

Are there bigger things that people could be doing on campus?

Everyone should encourage people around them to be more sustainable. Even though it is sometimes difficult to bring up, it is definitely important to be vocal about it.  

What is your relationship to sustainability?

I have always been an eco-conscious person. I think having been born on this earth, I, and we, have a responsibility to protect it for future generations. I feel like I have a moral obligation. In some ways I am fulfilling it but there is still a lot I have to work on.

Are you more interested in group or individual action?

Both are important. Education especially is something that is really necessary to increase knowledge so people become more sustainable.  The program is definitely in that category; it provides a good marker of where you are and how you can increase whatever you are doing. 

Student Spotlight: Maggie

posted Jul 5, 2013, 12:43 PM by Bridget Flynn   [ updated Jul 5, 2013, 12:44 PM ]

Name: Maggie Heraty
Year: Third Year
Major: Environmental Studies
Minor: Geology
Active in sustainability 

How did you hear about the program?

I first saw a promotion for the program in the Office of Environmental Sustainability Newsletter.


What prompted you to take it?

I wanted to see what it said and what criteria it had because I worked for Ecolympics in past years and have done A LOT of thinking about how people could be green and how to make Oberlin sustainable on an individual level. Also, I live in Old B. It’s really small, so I wanted to see if other members of the co-op would do it too as a type of house bonding. I also wanted to remind myself of anything I may have forgotten to do in the past few months.


Have a lot of people in Old B. certified? Do you feel you had an impact in the house?

A few did because I told them to. I thought it would be awesome if we all did it. However, only 4 people certified. 4 out of 14 isn’t so bad; at least it is a beginning!


How did the questions compare to what you had worked on previously during Ecolympics?

They were good. I had already thought about a lot of the criteria before. I remember taking it and thinking nothing was missing. However, I want to emphasize that these are very small (but necessary) choices. I would like to look for a way to encourage people to make bigger change.


Why is sustainability important to you?

It has a lot to do with equity. I am an Environmental Studies major because our choices here in the U.S. have a lot of impact on peoples’ lives across sea. I think it is important to be conscious of that impact and to work to make it positive rather than negative. I am also concerned about climate change and don’t want the world to fall apart. Mainly it stems from a deep desire to protect people and the planet.  


Do you feel the program is a good way to increase sustainability on campus?

I think it is, at least on a small scale. I really appreciate that you can post a sign on your door that shows you are committed to something. I am involved in a lot of the sustainability groups and initiatives on campus already. I think it is really helpful for those who aren’t involved to have a reminder like the sign.


Do you have any thoughts on what would be a good way to increase sustainability on campus? Bigger things that people could do?

In general, getting people more involved in environmental events would, in my mind, almost more successful than changing small behaviors. In thinking specifically about Ecolympics, I think it is important to have a green survey go out because it gives concrete ideas about how to increase sustainability. I think it is a super useful tool on an individual scale, however I would like to find ways to incentivize people to go to more events throughout the semester.


What are your past actions and what are you planning to do in the future?

I did outdoors work in high school which jump-started my environmental activism and work. A bio teacher led the ecology club at my school and we did restoration clearing invasive species and learning how to manage prairies by doing brush fires. I also worked in an aquarium in Chicago. I learned a lot there about marine biology. I also took intensive classes in ecology and marine bio. Most of those clubs and the education programs focused on climate change, sustainability, and behavior change. That is how I got involved in environmental work. Here at Oberlin I am involved in various environmental groups and have been involved in Ecolympics since freshman year. This year I have been focusing on privilege in environmentalism. I am currently working to change the Environmental Studies department/program to involve privilege, anti-oppression, and inclusivity into the curriculum.


Is there anything else you want to add and anything you want to see happen in the future?

I would like to see OES doing more to make stronger coalitions. I know there are efforts with green teas, and I really hope that it takes off. A lot of events that happen on campus interfere with each other, especially with the environmental groups on campus. I would love for these events to be organized better, to create more dialogue. I would also like to encourage everyone to go further, read different articles, make people more aware, and increase activism on campus. I also think privilege needs to be talked about more in the environmental scene on campus. I think we need think tanks. We need to brainstorm different ways to make the environmental movement inside of Oberlin more inclusive and not as intimidating and scary to people who aren’t passionate about environmental stuff. I know we tend to come off as a bunch of hippie activists who aren’t approachable. 

Student Spotlight: Joelle

posted Nov 16, 2012, 8:25 AM by Bridget Flynn   [ updated Nov 16, 2012, 11:52 AM ]

Joelle Lingat

Joelle at the Detroit Immerse Yourself in Service trip in Fall 2012 with Alice Shockey

Name: Joelle Lingat

Year: Second Year

Major: Environmental Studies and CAST (Comparative American Studies)


How did you hear about the program?

I am an RA in Kahn and our area coordinator sent it out for our residents and the RAs to complete. Besides the fact that it is important to take account of your own impact on the earth, I thought it was a great way to lead by example.


Have you found that a lot of your residents have certified?

Yes! My residents ranked as the second highest in the Kahn sustainability competition, we had 529 commitments cumulatively.


Do you feel that you influenced your residents?

I like to think that I influence and guide them in some way. They are always interested in knowing what more they can do, what would be an even greater step they can take. They are really proactive about sustainability and help me to continue to be passionate as well.


Why did you think it was important to certify your room?

I think it was a really visible initiative. Oberlin is really unique in its commitments. It is hard to build coalition outside of the Oberlin circle because there are so many differences between people that require breaching. I think surveys are a really good way to build a common ground between people and a good way to take action without making people sacrifice their personal opinions. I thought it was important to expose people to this way of thinking and to foster even the smallest lifestyle changes.


Have you told any other people about the program?

I haven’t specifically publicized it outside of Kahn, but people see my certificate on my door and ask about it and that starts a conversation and prompts them to take action. I think word of mouth is really important in this case and engaging people in conversation about sustainability is such a pivotal step in changing how we act. On that point, I also work for the Resource Conservation Team (RCT), where we work to improve campus environmental sustainability. 


Do you feel the program is a good way to increase sustainability on campus?

Yes, I think it is a great way to increase sustainability. I think that it prompts people to think about the actions they take. However, I think that the program needs a follow-up because it is so easy to make commitments and then never follow through. So, I feel that it is a good pathway to open up other doors and goals and to get people thinking and talking about what they do and what they can do.


*The follow up survey should be out after Thanksgiving!


Why is sustainability important to you?

I have always thought it was important. When I was young, in the 5th grade or so, I had to do a science fair project about agriculture on the moon. I have always felt that I played a very small role in the course of human history. However, through taking action towards sustainability and through this greater movement of environmental justice I became empowered. Whether it is my own actions or motivating others, I know that my small roles are steps towards substantial changes. Also, sustainability applies to all people. We all live on this earth and we are all affected by whatever happens to it, even if those environmental implications are not equally distributed or felt. I think another important issue is equality and equity within the movement, which also motivates me to take action and create social change. In sum, I think environmental sustainability is part of a larger movement to revolutionize the way the world works. It is so important to be passionate and act on those passions and not let larger narratives paralyze you.


What are your past actions and what are you planning to do in the future?

I am changed my lifestyle choices: what I eat, what I don’t eat, what modes of transport I choose to take, etc. That is how I started out. Now, I am getting more interested in making institutional changes and how to create systems that impact change even on the unconscious level. It is hard to push ideas onto people, but if the systems we live in are geared towards sustainability it is easy for people to make the sustainable choice. Really, I believe I have gone from microscopic view to a macroscopic view, from seeing the trees to the forest. For example: I work with the RCT on reuse initiatives like the Free Store, composting in dorms, etc. I’m searching now for ways to create equality within the environmental movement. It is not very diverse in a variety of levels, and I hope to make it more accessible to other groups and marginalized communities to get them involved so their demands will be met.


Is there anything else you want to add and anything you want to see happen in the future?

I would like to see more intersectional conversation with a lot of people with different backgrounds and interests. I think action is prompted by conversation, and it would be the first step to facilitate actions across the board. 

Student Spotlight: Anna & Lauren

posted Oct 2, 2012, 6:02 PM by Bridget Flynn


The first student spotlight article features a pair of roommates who both certified their rooms. One certified with 45 (the maximum!) commitments - thus receiving the Platinum ranking. The other certified with 35 commitments, receiving a Gold ranking.

Name: Lauren Branson
Year: Third Year
Major: Law and Society with a philosophy and politics minor

Name: Anna Saltzman
Year: Third Year
Major: East Asian Studies with a politics minor

How did you hear about the program?

Lauren: I found the program posted on the Oberlin Source homepage and thought it would be a good way to evaluate my own progress towards  sustainability.

Anna: Lauren showed the program to me. I was so excited that I applied right away.


Why did you decide to certify your room?

Lauren: I lived in Kahn my freshman year. Kahn fostered a community based on environmental sustainability. Certifying my room was a way to reconnect to that type of community.

Anna: For me, the room certification was form of self-evaluation, a test to see how sustainably I am living. I was very curious to see how I ranked within the program criteria, and where I could make changes.

How has the program benefited you and what have you learned from it?

Lauren and Anna: The ideas presented in the checklist were interesting. We found that many of them were things we did intrinsically. The checklist, to us, contains a lot of common sense things that we – and many others – do already.


Have you told other people about the program?

Lauren: Yes, I’ve told other people. The program is about educating others. It shows them the simple things that they can do to live more sustainably. It is so important to talk to people about the program and get them interested. Educating people about what they can do even on the most basic level is key.

Anna: I’ve told other people also. The program is a good way to create individual initiative and incentive to live more sustainably. It is a good way to initiate peer-to-peer education and build a strong community base where people are doing these things without even thinking about them. Instead of yelling at people about using plastic water bottles, I tell people about the program. It’s a good way to create conscious change without making people feel guilty.


Do you feel the program is a good way to increase sustainability on campus?

Lauren: I think the program is a great way to increase sustainability on campus. It makes everything so easy, and the certificate with the different levels provides an incentive and turns it into a game to see how far you can challenge yourself and how the small things you do can make a big difference.  My friends and I are even in a competition now over who can be the most sustainable.

Anna: Unlike the Ecolympics, this program really challenges you to think your actions all the time. The Olympics are not geared towards long-term change, just a month. Sitting there, checking off the boxes really makes you stop and think about the way you are living on a daily basis. It changes things up a little bit and really makes you as an individual conscious about sustainability.


What unique things are you doing to be more sustainable inside and outside of your room?

Anna: I bring a coffee mug with me everywhere I go. It’s simple and also cost effective, most places will give you a discount, and for a college student on a tight budget it’s definitely helpful!  Being thrifty really causes you to live more sustainably.

Lauren: I worked at Barnes and Noble over the summer. They didn’t recycle. After a lot of pestering I convinced them to recycle all the paper they were throwing away. I was really proud of myself for that. I also like crafting to give new life to an item. For instance, I re-upholstered an old chair (pictured). Up-cycling is one of my passions. 

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