Temple University celebrates Campus Sustainability Month

The Office of Sustainability hosted events to educate students on green practices.

Terrill Haigler speaks to Temple students about the importance of stewardship in urban environments at the Temple Community Garden on Oct. 15. GRACIE HEIM / THE TEMPLE NEWS

From biking and walking places instead of driving, to recycling used goods or buying second-hand clothing, there are many ways to get involved in Campus Sustainability Month at Temple University. 

“Decarbonize your ride, decarbonize your closet, decarbonize your organization,” said Caroline Burkholder,  the Office of Sustainability manager.

During October, Temple’s Office of Sustainability is hosting various events, like eco-workshops, pop-up thrift shops and information sessions about stewardship in urban environments. These events intend to educate students and faculty on climate change, eco-friendly alternatives to driving and buying new clothes and issues affecting the environment. 

Temple’s Office of Sustainability hosted an outdoor, experiential learning session on Oct. 8 at the Temple Community Garden, on the corner of Diamond and Carlisle streets, where they taught stewardship in urban environments, like Philadelphia, to students and community members. Office of Sustainability leaders collaborated with environmental advocates, like Terrill Haigler, former sanitation worker for the city of Philadelphia and CEO of Trash 2 Treasure, a non-profit that hosts community clean up events, and The Rounds, an eco-friendly delivery group.

The event aimed to teach people how to preserve the environment in Philadelphia through volunteer work or advocacy while broadening the sense of community at the university, said Shay Strawser, senior marketing major and sustainability events program assistant for the Office of Sustainability. 

“Our goal right now is to make the Temple Community Garden our hub spot where students can come gather, get in touch with the local environment and also just connect with other students and community members,” Strawser said. 

Community Gardens connect individuals as they work together to create and maintain common green spaces in urban neighborhoods, according to the Philadelphia Orchard Project, a nonprofit organization that plants and supports community orchards in Philadelphia. They also provide free access to fresh and healthy food that may otherwise be inaccessible. 

Aiden Curry, a transportation eco-lead for the Office of Sustainability and junior chemistry major, values promoting sustainable practices at a university level, as he feels it brings awareness to current environmental issues that might otherwise go unnoticed, he said. 

“It’s really important – getting people thinking about the space that they occupy, how they can better use that space and create that culture of sustainability again, with all the students and the community that we inhabit, and try and promote those kinds of topics during this month,” Curry said.

Strawser hopes that these events and educational opportunities will encourage students to incorporate them into their lives because individual actions matter in solving environmental issues, Strawser said. 

The Office of Sustainability also hosted two pop-up thrift shop events on Oct. 6 and 13 at the Bell Tower, where students could buy clothes donated to the office last year for less than five dollars per article of clothing and learn about sustainable fashion and shopping. All proceeds raised went to the Cherry Pantry to help students who are food insecure or can’t regularly get the food they need, Burkholder said. 

They are also hosting a bike repair event on Oct. 26 to promote sustainable transportation and connect students with other Philadelphians, Curry said. 

“Getting people connected to sustainability through their mode of transportation in the city, and also, through that, getting them connected to their neighborhood and the community that we have here at Temple,” Curry said.

While Campus Sustainability month ends in October, the office still plans to provide opportunities for students to learn and advocate for sustainability throughout the year by hosting more workshops and information sessions. 

“There are plenty of ways to live more energy efficiently, and I don’t think everybody knows this,” Burkholder said. “Our goal is to build a community of people who want to better themselves and the planet.”

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