#KatiesGoGreen — A student-led challenge to transform sustainability on campus and beyond



The principles and practices that define sustainability have been part of St. Kate’s for so many years, it’s easy to forget or miss the many ways we live this mission on campus. In the coming weeks we will share stories and examples of how sustainability is part of teaching, learning, and student life.

What started last year as an awareness campaign about garbage consumption on campus has evolved into shared momentum of opportunities to encourage a more mindful embrace of wholistic sustainable living led by the Student Senate’s sustainability committee.

The #KatiesGoGreen Challenge last Spring asked the question, “What does a day’s-worth of trash look like to you?” Participants were challenged to not throw a single thing away for an entire day but to carry it with them everywhere they went that day. At the end of the day, the impact of their consumption choices could, literally, be laid out before them. Then in October came the Sustainable Fashion challenge, encouraging the re-wearing and repurposing of garments and accessories to minimize clothing waste.

As this year’s Student Senate Sustainability Committee considered new awareness-raising efforts, they set the intention to create more opportunities to participate, and more opportunities to share. “We decided on a program that uses fewer words, and is more social media-based,” said Liz Axberg '20, co-chair of the Student Senate’s Sustainability Committee. “As people track participation through hashtags, there’s the reinforcement that more of us are doing this. Reading their reflections inspires, and helps us plan future challenges.”

The March challenge opened last week with a simple directive: Ditch the Plastic. The idea: remove as much disposable plastic from daily life as participants are able to. From reusable shopping bags to bamboo or stainless drinking straws to food containers, there are more non-plastic products available to use today.

This week, it’s all about the Zero Waste Plate. Not to be confused with the “clean plate club” so many parents pushed on their children, Zero Waste Plate focuses instead on waste streams leading up to and following a meal: adding a ‘meatless’ day to the weekly meal plans, prepare a meal using only locally sourced ingredients, and composting any food items that are not going to be reused in a future meal.

Next week, participants are encouraged to Buy Nothing New. Instead of just picking up something new (and maybe not needed?), participants are reminded to visit local thrift stores and wear sustainable or thrifted fashions. On Thursday March 21, the University’s Fashion Association is hosting a table with tips on how to make any green outfit look a little more stylish…and even mend a favorite clothing item on the spot.

The point of #KatiesGoGreen is not to focus solely on campus or residence hall life when considering sustainability, but to bring what’s learned and understood to other parts of life. “These challenges highlight small things we can do whether we’re at home, or working at a job after we’ve graduated,” Axberg explained. “This is something faculty, staff, our parents and friends could all do. It’s not for students only.”

The Sustainability Committee is planning other sustainability awareness activities that more people can participate in on campus. The next one is planned for April 25th at 2 pm, when the Student Senate hosts a Trash Sort in front of CdC. (More details to come.)

To participate

Participants may share pictures and/or reflections of the challenge on social media. Make sure to include #KatiesGoGreen in any post. Each name will be entered to win eco-friendly SWAG prizes. Winners will be announced in early April.

Want to know more?

The Sustainability Committee meets every Wednesday from 4 to 5 p.m. in CdC 286. All are welcome to attend.

Next Week’s Story

With spring comes the urge to clean. The Facilities Team has worked on their own brand of spring cleaning, changing out some of the cleaning products used and adding in smarter tools that bring a little more green to the clean. Check back next week to learn more about it.

Sustainability at St. Kate's