s summit

This article was written by a student of ENGL 3330: Writing for the News Media, which is taught by Mike Pulley.

From the Australian wildfires to the war on plastic straws, sustainability is on everyone’s mind, now more than ever. Clemson students are doing their part for the environment by holding a Sustainability Summit on March 6 and 7. This event is designed to shed light on some of the biggest sustainability issues at Clemson.

CUSG Sustainability Commission Week (March 2 through 6) will kick off the event, getting members of campus excited about the Summit. Each day of the week is dedicated to a specific sustainability issue, like food sustainability and recycling. Each day will highlight an environmentally-friendly practice people may not have even considered.

Sustainability Commission Week will also have a day dedicated to the harmful effects of “fast fashion.” “Fast fashion” is inexpensive clothing that is cheaply produced and manufactured, resulting in harmful environmental effects from the use of polyester materials and artificial dyes. 

“Most of those materials come from fossil fuels as opposed to cotton and wool that are durable and last generations,” said Dr. Caye Drapcho, associate professor in the Department of Biosystems Engineering and co-chair of the Clemson University Sustainability Commission.

To highlight ways to avoid “fast-fashion” trends, there will be a pop-up thrift store under library bridge. The pop-up shop is meant to encourage students to upcycle their clothes (transform unwanted products into something new) or buy from thrift stores.

The Summit itself will be just as interactive. The first day (March 6) kicks off with the All In Farmers Market, where local producers and suppliers will help the Clemson community shop locally and resourcefully. The second half of the day is all about education with two different panel discussions and a talk from keynote speaker Weston Dripps, Executive Director of the David E. Shi Center for Sustainability at Furman University. 

The second day of the Summit is dedicated to collaborative student-professor projects split up into categories: recycling and waste; climate; environmentally-friendly cooking and dining; and sustainability education and leadership.

“I think there is a reason students are becoming as active as they are,” said Caleb Todd, junior environmental and natural resources major and lead organizer for the Sustainability Summit. “[This event] is fitting some sort of need that people see.”

Based on the schedule and amount of activities, this two-day summit has a lot to offer campus in terms of green practices. Although Todd and some of the other professors involved thought this event would solely draw interest from environmental science or engineering students, a multi-disciplinary array of majors has expressed interest, with over 130 students registered for the Summit so far.

Several organizations, such as the Solid Green Club, also see the need for sustainability at Clemson and are taking small steps to help students and the university be greener. 

“We need to treat climate and sustainability issues as what they are, not something to kind of do on the side,” said Cody Eimen, sophomore biosystems engineering major and the president of the Solid Green Club.

Drapcho, Todd and Eimen, as well as other professors and students on campus, agree that the Sustainability Summit is not just a great opportunity for students to go green, but it will allow Clemson to become an example for other universities across the U.S. in terms of sustainability.

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