Columbia University EcoReps is a group of students working in collaboration with Columbia Housing, Dining Services, and Environmental Stewardship to promote sustainable behavior and implement green initiatives on Columbia’s campus.
Today, EcoReps is a student group organized into the Dining, Conscious Consumption/Recycling, and Living Green committees. EcoReps is responsible for the Give and Go Green donation program during move-out and the resulting Green Sales at the beginning of fall semester (since 2011). We also run the Youth Climate Summit for NYC-area high school groups (since 2018). EcoReps holds many events throughout the year, including Plate Scrapings in John Jay Dining Hall, clothing swaps, panels and workshops, and Kill The Cup, which promotes the use of reusable mugs instead of disposable coffee cups in campus dining halls and cafes.
EcoReps was founded in 2005 by a team of students and administrators from the Offices of Housing, Dining and Student Services. It was the brainchild of Scott Wright, Vice-President of Campus Services, and a group of students led by Six Silberman and Coogan Brennan. The purpose was to create sustainable activism, policy, and infrastructure on Columbia’s campus. EcoReps were paid employees of Housing and Dining, serving as residence hall representatives seeking to increase the amount of sustainable living education to students.
They used outreach and created initiatives like reducing each building’s energy consumption and increasing the recycling rate in particular floors. Each EcoRep would be assigned a particular dormitory, and the group would meet to outline specific projects. In 2009-2010, EcoReps coordinators re-imagined the organization as a functional student group without monetary compensation or residence hall assignment due to the strain it put on the members. Split up into various committees, beginning with Food and Water, Energy, Waste and Recycling, and ECO’s (the revamped version of the earlier residence hall format), the EcoReps increased their programming, recruitment, and impact on campus. Previous initiatives included the bikeshare program with Zagster and the Rocket, the composter in Ruggles that was fed food waste from John Jay (see Compost).
Waste Bin Labels
Over multiple years (circa 2019) EcoReps Recycling collaborated with Environmental Stewardship and Columbia Sustainability to standardize the recycling bin labeling on campus
Residence Hall Light Switch Timers
Columbia Youth Climate Summit: (2018-Present)
The 4th annual Columbia Youth Climate Summit will be held virtually, Saturday, March 20, 2021, 12:00pm-6:00pm ET. High school students from the NYC Area and beyond will gather to hear about climate change from a wide variety of guest speakers, and write Climate Action Plans—frameworks for promoting environmental sustainability within their own school communities.
Participants will learn skills to live sustainably moving forward, and will complete a leadership certificate to track their school's progress regarding their Climate Action Plan.
Kill The Cup (2018-2020)
The EcoReps Recycling Committee launched Kill the Cup in Winter 2017 where a small team designed and bought several cases of reusable hot-drink mugs. The mugs were given out for free at tabling events over a week in exchange for students signing a “bring your own mug” pledge and answering a survey about their sustainability habits. In preparation for the event, club members designed and crafted signs on recycled cardboard collected from the package center. In the following year, the new co-chairs of the committee partnered with the City of New York and their Green NYC department and received several cases of high quality insulated mugs to EcoReps for free. This event attracted a lot more interest and allowed the Recycling Committee to gather more data about student sustainability habits. A Kill the Cup event was put on in both the Fall and Spring semester that year, and a similar event was put on in Fall 2020.
Plate Scrapings ((2006?)-Spring 2020)
The EcoReps Dining Committee has hosted monthly plate scraping events at John Jay Dining Hall, where students are incentivized to not waste food. Students scrape their food into a compost bin after eating, and if they do not have any food waste, they are entered into a drawing to win 25 Dining Dollars.
Cooking events (Fall 2020-Present)
In Fall 2020, EcoReps started a new type of event: a virtual cooking event where students cook a sustainable recipe together on zoom. This will be a recurring type of event held by the EcoReps Dining Committee.
Sustainable Fashion Workshop Series:
Episode 1: 4 Things You Can Make From a T-Shirt (November 6, 2020)
A team of 7 members of the Living Green Committee (Lolo "The Meme Generator" Dederer, Lawson "The Day Skiier" Goodloe, Sydney "The Night Skiier" Wells, Arin Pogany, Justine Decker, Kayla Nitahara, and Justin "The Dinosaur" Paik) held a virtual workshop in which they showed how to turn a used t-shirt into a DIY mask (with our without sewing), scrunchie, tote bag, or spirit shirt.
Episode 2: Natural Tie-Dye Live Demo (November 22, 2020)
The same team of 7 members of the Living Green Committee, plus one additional member (Sophie "The GOAT" Zachara), held a virtual workshop in which they guided participants through the process of tie-dyeing a t-shirt, mask, or other article of clothing using a natural plant-based dye. Dyes were obtained from beets, avocados, and turmeric.
The team will also be making a tie-dye tutorial video to be distributed by the Columbia University Office of Social Media via YouTube and other platforms.
NYC Thrift Store Guide
A team of 4 members of the Living Green Committee made a guide to thrift stores through the five boroughs of NYC. https://xd.adobe.com/view/bd6c25e2-0a15-44f1-82f4-f6b2c9fc2de7-e83f/?fullscreen