Freshman eco-rep Molly Ruiz considered herself a “rookie to sustainability” before coming to Elon.
She was eager to learn about the potential impact students have on the environment, and through participating in campus-wide sustainability events — similar to those offered this Earth Week — she became fully immersed in Elon's sustainability efforts.
“I just vaguely learned about sustainability in high school through a bio class, but I noticed that there was an actual way to get involved on campus,” Ruiz said. “As soon as I learned a little, I just wanted to keep learning more and see how it applies to my life.”
An active member of Elon Outdoors and the Outdoors Living Learning Community, Ruiz also serves as an eco-rep, a student who works to educate peers on environmental issues and sustainability. According to Ruiz, the Office of Sustainability defines sustainability as “preserving the needs of our present without compromising the needs of our future.”
Ruiz said this is only possible when everyone is aware of what they as an individual can do. As such, eco-reps also plan and promote sustainability events on campus to spread awareness. Senior Alissa Kapp oversees the eco-rep program as an intern for the Office of Sustainability and said hosting events is a great way to show people how the environment affects them.
“There's so many things that fall into the category of sustainability,” Kapp said. “The purpose of us having events on campus, obviously, is to promote sustainability and educate people more on stuff that they might not know about. But it's also cool to see how sustainability can fit into so many different parts of your life.”
During Earth Week, there are 11 sustainability events open to all students. Kapp said she hopes people who don’t always think about sustainability each attend just one event.
“I think a lot of people don't go because they're like, ‘Oh, I'm not a sustainability major, environmental person. It doesn't apply to me,’” Kapp said. “People need to realize that it is something that affects everyone, and just going to one event and learning one new thing can make a difference in your life.”
While Elon celebrates Earth Week now, Ruiz said what students learn now could be more important in the long term.
“What I'm hoping most students get out of it is education on where waste goes, how they can preserve their waste, how they can reuse things,” Ruiz said. “Because those are all really easy things that you can change by yourself but don't take much effort.”