Breaking Down the Basics

The mission of Sustainable Action Week was to educate students about environmental degradation, energy and water preservation.
The mission of Sustainable Action Week was to educate students about environmental degradation, energy and water preservation.

All last week, environmentally-minded residents of New Paltz gathered across campus for Sustainable Action Week.

According to the event’s description, the goal of Sustainable Action Week was to understand how everyday consumption connects to larger problems of food production, water privatization, energy use and to promote the sustainable options available to students.

The week long event dedicated several programs over the seven days to different lectures, rallies, workshops and movies related to sustainable living.

While the event had a strong show of community members, there was a weaker student turnout.

“The average amount of people at the lectures was 30 plus,” said Melanie Glenn. “I love strengthening the town-gown connection, but it is a bit weak as of now.”

The wealth of community members was bittersweet, according to Glenn.

“It was just a bit disappointing to see more community members caring about the environment and wanting to be educated than the young minds here on this campus,” she said. “Our whole point was to spread the knowledge to those who don’t know about it.”

Monday’s theme was to “educate yourself.” There was a sustainability fair and a keynote address by Deena Wade. Tuesday focused on Food and Compost. Wednesday focused on fresh water with a screening of the documentary “Living Downstream,” followed by a panel discussing the dangers of hydraulic-fracking and  a concert featuring student talent.

Thursday highlighted sustainable energy with speaker Tina Clarke. According to Glenn, Clarke spoke about transitioning communities to a more connected town. She discussed sharing knowledge and bartering instead of getting caught up with money and the global economy.

Friday discussed taking action with a sign making and letter writing campaign against hydro-fracking leading up to the anti-fracking rally. Saturday was when the Green Feminisms Conference was held with multiple speakers and workshops on gender and the environment.

The week closed with Sunday’s Eco-Sabbath which included Vinyasa Yoga on the quad and guided meditation.

Organizers of the event are optimistic about next year, but wished that the event had garnered more student participants.

Lana Heintjes, who ran the yoga class on the quad, said she hopes the event will focus more on personal sustainability in the future.

“I want to encourage the week to be revolved around what we can change in our everyday lives right now to be more sustainable and get as many people to do that during the week,” said Heintjes.