CWU Environmental Club begins conversation on climate change

Joshua Kornfeld, Staff Reporter

The CWU Environmental Club aims to bring students together around environmental issues. The club has biweekly meetings on Thursday in Science Hall 201 at 5 p.m. Club members have diverse majors ranging from fashion to biology.

Lily De Young, junior apparel textiles major and vice president/senator of the Environmental Club, said she advocates for sustainability. She said she has been with the club since freshman year. 

De Young said the club’s biggest accomplishment was pushing university leadership for a sustainability coordinator on campus, with a student-led petition as seen on the club’s Instagram page. Since 2019, Kathleen Kalanink has been the sustainability coordinator.   

“We want people to be able to talk about the Earth [and] climate change, so we can work and make change together,” De Young said. 

As a senator, De Young is on the committee that represents sustainability on campus. During office hours in SURC 236 from 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. students can share concerns that she can later discuss at weekly senator meetings.  

De Young mentioned that the environmental club has participated in several campus clean-up events as well as a bring-your-own-pot event, where students collected and planted seeds. 

“We are trying to take a more hands-on approach since we are back in person this year,

to get back outside, especially with better weather,” De Young said. 

Skyler Sturgis is a senior in biology with a specialization in biomed, and this academic year is the first year Sturgis has been involved with the club. 

“The main goal is to bring like-minded people together who care about the environment and want to apply sustainable change, and then try to implement that into school as much as we can on a personal level and share knowledge with others,” Sturgis said.  

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

 “There’s another one that I like to do, which is refuse. That just means sometimes you don’t need the extra thing. Even if it’s only small things, not getting a straw or using your own metal one,” De Young said. 

Sturgis serves as a liaison for the Environmental Club, and attends Inter Club Association (ICA) meetings ensuring that club priorities are voiced.  

Sturgis stated that interclub collaboration can increase group engagement and be beneficial for all clubs participating.   

For instance, Sturgis discussed supporting the Primate Awareness Network (PAN) which aims to inform students about the impact of climate change on primates. PAN is supporting an initiative to move CWU away from unsustainable palm oil, which is bad for primates and the environment. 

The goal is to source 100% sustainable palm oil. This initiative has a lot of overlap between the goals of both PAN and the environmental club. Sturgis encouraged students to support environmental initiatives on campus, such as trash clean-ups and petitions. 

In terms of on-campus recycling efforts, Joe Ritchie, the head chef at Dining Services, said that CWU does have recycling containers for Dining Services, production items such as jugs, bottles and cardboard are recycled. Post consumer recycling is not being done e.g Holmes Dining containers which stopped during pandemic due to concern around COVID risks and limited staffing.  

Compostable containers are mixed in with trash, due to Kittitas County not having composting capacity according to Ritchie. Ritchie reported that the team at Dining Services are hopeful that this changes in the future. According to Kittitas County there is composting infrastructure for yard waste but not household compostables. Ritchie said that in the future Dining Services is partnering with PUSH to have leftover food from Central Marketplace and Holmes donated to PUSH Pantry.  

During the month of April, Sturgis and De Young both discussed that the environmental club is planning on hosting additional events for Earth Week. Sturgis said the club is looking at hosting a movie night showing an environmental documentary, partnering with the greenhouse and an event with the Wildcat Farm. 

Students interested in supporting recycling on campus can visit the CWU Sustainability website.    

Sturgis recommends that students visit the environmental club’s website for the latest information on upcoming events. CWU also will have a sustainability living learning community in Wendell Hill Hall B in fall 2022, which will aim to connect students from different majors who are interested in learning about the environment.