‘Sustainability Slammer’ spreads the word of going green


(Erica Lowenkron/ Collegian)

By Izzy Salant, Collegian Correspondent

On Jan. 30, multiple different student organizations from the Sustainable Organization Coalition at UMass, a program designed to make the University of Massachusetts more eco-friendly, gathered in the Cape Cod Lounge for the “Sustainability Slammer,” a fair designed to show students the different efforts these groups put forth in order to make UMass and the world a better, more environmentally friendly place.

Muhammad Munir, a natural resources conservation major, organized the event as a chance for students to see the different efforts their fellow peers have been working on, and for the different sustainable student organizations to have a chance to collaborate. Munir leads the coalition, first holding meetings for the organization in the fall of 2017.

“[This fair] gave an option for students in groups to interact with each other and help each other,” said Rebecca Schmidt, the sustainability engagement coordinator for UMass. “It’s great to see this many people dedicated to sustainability.”

Sophomore economics major Alexia Perides and senior environmental and public policy student Ainsley Brosnan-Smith are two of these dedicated students. They are part of Rack City Thrift, a “pop-up” thrift shop on campus that was founded in Fall 2017. According to Perides, it started out of the “New to You” tag sale, which is where items left in residence halls at the end of the Spring semester are donated and sold in the fall. Rack City came about because they needed a permanent place to sell and promote reselling.

“By reselling these clothes, we keep them out of a landfill,” said Brosnan-Smith. “Our organization is not about money, but getting people to use sources that are already created. We’re not for profit, we just want to promote sustainability.”

Another highlight of the Slammer was the new bike share program. Ezra Small, the sustainability manager for UMass, demonstrated the new bikes to students attending the event. These bikes are part electric, and as someone pedals uphill, the bike reacts so it’s easier to pedal rather than getting tired out.

The environment has been a global, hot-button issue for some time. From finding renewable energy resources to starting recycling programs, people have been trying to make a conscious effort to “go green,” and UMass is no exception.

“The drive to save the environment is one of the reasons I came to UMass,” said Brosnan-Smith.

While she is happy that there is a sustainability program on campus, Brosnan-Smith stressed how she is upset with the school’s handling of allocations for these different organizations.

“The University doesn’t have actual space for us and can’t afford overhead space,” she said. “I hope that with the new Student Union, there will be a sustainability allocation area for us so we can continue to do what we are passionate about and help make a difference.”

Izzy Salant can be reached at [email protected]

Editor’s note: The original version of this article has since been edited to change “Sustainable UMass” to the Sustainable Organization Coalition at UMass.