EcoReps organization sprouts from sustainability roots


Junior environmental studies and sustainability majors Gwen Czarnik and Sam Lievense enjoy a paddle around Bunting Lake at the EcoReps orientation last week. Photo courtesy of Olivia Walcott

Sophie Hillmeyer

A peer-to-peer educator program designed to share resources and knowledge with all majors on the three pillars of sustainability: environmental, social and economic

A passion for conservation spearheaded the creation of EcoReps and turned it into a growing organization to promote a well-rounded and collaborative approach to sustainable living by connecting with all members of our communities.

“I love being in a program that doesn’t just focus on the environmental aspects of sustainability,” Sarah Head, senior economics major said. “I think we have a nice, well-rounded program that will effectively educate Northern students, staff and faculty on the three pillars of sustainability: environmental, economic and social.”

EcoReps is a peer-to-peer education program that is designed to share resources and knowledge with students to raise awareness, provide solutions to sustainability issues and engage with all students regardless of their current sustainability practices, Grace Grimes, junior biology major said.

“Living an environmentally conscious lifestyle is often labeled as ‘hippy’ or ‘granola,’” Grimes said. “I really hope EcoReps pushes these boundaries and feels inclusive to the entire community. I want everyone to be welcomed.”

The funding for the new initiatives was granted to EcoReps after a series of student statements they presented at a Board of Trustees meeting in May, where they were allocated $20,000 for a trial-run of the program, Head said.

“Having a programming budget this year has allowed us to plan more events, think long-term, find better and more sustainable resources to use at our events and pay to have NMU students coordinate the program,” Head said.

Free events have been planned throughout the semester to promote more sustainable initiatives on campus such as Fix it Fridays with sewing services for damaged clothes or bags and Tune-up Tuesdays for bike maintenance and clothing swaps, Head said. There will be a zero-waste picnic on Friday, Aug. 31 from 11 to 2 p.m. in the Magers lawn and a Sustainability Workshop series that can be accessed through the Skillbuilders website, she added.

“Talking to any of my fellow club members, it is apparent how passionate each EcoRep is about the environment. It is this passion that keeps the organization running,” Grimes said.