Students for Environmental Action, known as SEA, is making the streets of Philadelphia a greener place, both on and off campus.
SEA is a club whose goal is not only to make the Temple community more environmentally aware, but also to advocate for sustainable policies within the university’s administration in order to make the campus greener.
Every weekend, the club does community service to improve the neighborhoods of Philadelphia, members said. Two of SEA’s main projects are tree planting and community pickup.
“We have a relationship with Philadelphia Tree People in Kensington,” Donnie Irvandy, the president of SEA, said. “We do a lot of tree plantings with them. We also do tree plantings with [organizations such as the] Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.”
Irvandy said the club finds events that other sustainable organizations in Philadelphia are arranging and often helps with that initiative. They try to go to at least one event per week.
On Oct. 7, SEA went to Strawberry Mansion to clean lots and streets in the neighborhood. The PhillyRising Collaborative, an organization that implements projects to improve crime-ridden neighborhoods with a low quality of living, arranged the event.
The club has also made efforts to get residents in North Philadelphia to lead more environmentally conscious lifestyles. In the past, they have held tree planting demonstrations where they showed residents how to plant and care for trees.
“That’s teaching them green practices,” said Morgan Nemtuda, a sophomore environmental studies major and vice president of SEA.
Along with the effort SEA applies within the surrounding community, the main focus of the club is to change campus policy.
“Students for Environmental Action does an amazing job of [not only] being advocates and activists, but also collaborators,” Kathleen Grady, director of Temple’s Office of Sustainability, said. “Which is amazing, because they can work from the inside and also work from the outside.”
SEA’s most recent success was their campaign to implement compostable containers in the food court. For that project, they worked with the Office of Sustainability to meet with facility management and administrators in charge of the Student Center before the administration approved it.
“Now, we’re actually waiting [for the] switch,” Nemtuda said.
Currently, SEA is working toward materializing a ban of plastic bags on campus.
“The aim is either a ban or reducing it,” Nemtuda said, “Whether it be through an incentive to use reusable bags, or talking to individual businesses like the bookstore or even food trucks to have different policies. We’re still planning it.”
Nemtuda said there are organizations that are pushing the entire city of Philadelphia to ban plastic bags.
“Sometimes the city will have the same policy as we are trying to push,” Nemtuda said. “That pushes the administration, because if the city mandates it, then they’re going to have to mandate it, so they might as well do it.”
Irvandy and Nemtuda are partnering up to start a co-op cafe and would like to get local residents involved.
“It’s important to include the community in the co-op because they have different wants and needs than we have,” Nemtuda said.
The co-op would not be affiliated with SEA, but many members of the club are excited about the idea.
Grady said SEA has a big impact when it comes to changing policies and promoting, and the club is the force behind a lot what the Office of Sustainability advances.
“We think of [SEA] as one of our most valuable partners on campus,” Grady said. “Essentially, they push us to keep moving forward.”
Danielle Hagerty can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.