Sustainability Week Leaves Its Footprint on SMC

Earlier this week, Sustainability Week commenced with a number of events for Santa Monica College students to attend for free, including an art show, a documentary, lots of fruits and vegetables, and student-ran workshops.

SMC hosted its annual Sustainability week from Oct. 16 to 19. The week consisted of different events each day hosted by the Associated Students of SMC with the help from several club leaders of environmentally conscious clubs on campus. The contributing clubs consisted of Plastic-Free SMC, Eco-Action Club, the SMC Bike Club, and Club Grow.

Starting the week off on Monday, Oct. 16, was a free farmers market for students at the organic learning garden in front of the art complex. Free reusable bags were given out and a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables such as: kale, fennel, and carrots were handed out.

For Tuesday, Oct. 17, the main quad had a fair with non-profit organizations. Students could learn about internship and volunteer opportunities, as well as seeing fires being made with nothing more than some wood and a knife, live bees with fresh honey being given away, and many facts about the environment. Christopher Welch, a music major, learned a lot about what sustainability was during this fair.

“The honey tasted fantastic. I’m not really super educated on what sustainability is however, now I know it’s using organic and natural products and produces and creating things that regrow, I think that’s fantastic,” Welch said. “To see [this] enforced by a college really shows that not only the institution cares about how we treat our bodies and our world that we live in but it also wants to educate the students to do the same.”

On Wednesday, Oct. 18, there was an art show featuring art with eco-friendly messages that is currently being displayed in the library on the main campus. Later in the day, in the Cayton Center was a showing of Chasing Corral, a 2017 documentary on the disappearance of coral reefs. There were also free slices of pizza from Grey Block Pizza.

Finally, finishing off the week on Thursday, October 19, was a series of workshops led by student clubs such as Unicef and the Chemistry Club. On display were several notable objects such as a barrel of over 10,000 cigarette butts all collected in just one day of cleaning the beach.

In attendance for this event was Bronwyn Major, the President of Plastic-Free SMC. She was partially responsible for the planning of sustainability week. Behind her club’s booth, she was dressed in a jacket adorned with plastic pack rings meant for soda to help illustrate the usage of plastic in our world.

“Plastic is an incredible material. It can save lives. However, we’ve moved away from its purpose and we’re making items meant to last a few minutes out of materials that last forever. It’s a major problem and our purpose is just to educate the student body on this and offer solutions and alternatives," Major said.

Bronwyn was one of the people most involved with the planning of this series of events for sustainability week. Students themselves spoke with the vendors, organized all the attendees, and proposed to the A.S. for about $5,500 worth of funding. Which went towards reusable giveaways for students and rental for general operating costs.

Alexa Benavente, the Director of Sustainability for the A.S. was present for the proposal and was there during the development.

“One of the visions and goals for the school is sustainability," Benavente said. "It’s just bringing awareness to students. We have a long way to go for sustainability in this school, though we are one of the greenest schools here, we can always improve.”

Looking back upon the event, Bronwyn was satisfied with the turnout and what the clubs that participated have accomplished.

“We’re on a campus to learn and learning information from one another is so empowering. I think being able to educate one another and realizing how impactful we can be by having a conversation Is super inspiring.”

Another person who had some of the most involvement was Diego Johansen, the President of Eco-Action on campus. He saw that everything was running smoothly to get students engaged about sustainability.

“A lot of people have been pretty interested, at least in the conversations I’ve had so I think that’s been good. My favorite part has been the sustainability fair where we invited all those non-profits,” Johansen said. “I think it’s nice to see people involved and having open minds to environmentalism and living sustainable.”

If you did not attend this year’s sustainability week, coming up in the 2018 Spring semester will be Earth Week. Planning has already begun for the event that will be similarly-sized. It will be about the same general themes to help students learn about this planet and how they can help make their lives a little more sustainable in the long run.