Initiative creates environmental action on campus

Grinnell College is nationally recognized for its “green” projects. The East Campus dormitories and the Joe Rosenfield Center ’25 are both Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certified. Flyers with messages regarding recycling and environmental campaigns line the loggias. Bikes cluttered along pathways give the impression of a student body that cares more about responsibility to the Earth than the comfort of a car. However, when it comes to true environmental initiatives, both the student body and the administration seem to be at a standstill. A newly formed group on campus is taking steps to change that.

A few weeks ago, a questionnaire was placed into students’ mailboxes asking students for ideas for environmental action on campus. These sheets are part of a campaign started by Ethan Heppner ’11 to utilize money from the Student Initiative Fund (STIFund) to make active environmental advancements on campus. The goal is to give Grinnellians the chance to walk the “enviro” walk.

In years past, many students have attempted to start more interactive green projects around the campus. Many of these individuals did not have the experience to shape what they were thinking into an executable plan.

“Before it might have just gone to the student body as a poorly-written initiative,” said Alyce Eaton ’13.

The current goal of the new project is to collect the students’ ideas and turn them into doable projects.

“With this system, someone submits an initiative,” Eaton said. “Those who have knowledge about environmental issues [then] look at it and make [the initiative] feasible.”

The idea for a student environmental initiative drive began while Heppner was organizing an environmental database for the college. The idea was to create a space where anyone with an environmental cause could pitch their idea to the SGA’s STIFund Committee and have a fairly good chance that something would come of it.

“Once I learned about the large STIFund budget this year, and considered how a fair number of environmentally-minded student initiatives had not been realized in the past, I started thinking about the idea of having some sort of ‘big push’ for student initiatives,” Heppner said. “The idea of the initiative form… is to encourage students who might not otherwise propose ideas to…pool ideas and experience to bring forth realistic proposals that will be acted upon after initiatives voting.”

The group is currently is working on numerous projects . Some projects involve expanding and improving recycling on campus, expanding opportunities for composting, revitalizing the campus bikes program and establishing an environmental lending library, which would rent out objects such as shower clocks and green shopping guides on a floor-to-floor basis.

“We will be checking boxes until Tuesday, the 28th,” Heppner said.  “Make sure you submit your ideas before then, and then come to our meeting in Loose Lounge at 9 p.m. that same day.”