Smith students are passionate about sustainability and environmental justice. In any given semester, they can be found leading a student organization to teach fellow Smithies about the environment, starting an initiative to make campus more sustainable, working with student groups from other colleges on issues that impact the local community and rallying around global sustainability issues.
The Bicycle Kitchen’s mission is to provide the Smith College community with bike rentals, riding support, safety classes and maintenance education. More broadly, the organization acts as a forum for those interested in environmentally friendly transportation and promoting bike love in all aspects of life in the Pioneer Valley and beyond.
Divest Smith College is a student-led network advocating that the college divest its endowment from the fossil fuel industry. By building coalition with students, faculty, staff and alumnae, organizing events on campus, and asking more of our administration and trustees, Divest Smith College seeks to create a community of activists committed to fighting for climate justice and against structures of oppression. Its ultimate aim is to establish Smith College as a model socially, environmentally and financially responsible institution.
The Smith College Green Team is a student-run organization that works to educate the campus community on issues of environmental injustice, both at home and across the globe. The club provides an opportunity for all students interested in environmentalism to come together and share ideas about leading more sustainable lives. Green Team works to bridge the gap between environmental activism and social rights issues, with the goal of making environmental stewardship accessible to everyone.
SCOPES is a collective of students of color from the Five Colleges (Smith, Amherst, UMass-Amherst, Mount Holyoke, and Hampshire) who are involved with STEM, sustainability and environmental justice initiatives. By sharing events, news items, ideas and questions, the group works to create a sense of solidarity among students of color, who may find themselves a minority in their classes and struggle to find a place in which their identity in the sciences is represented.
Smith Students for Food Justice (SSFJ) is Smith College's chapter of the Real Food Challenge national organization. This coalition of students, staff, faculty and community members work to create a more just food system. The group helped establish the college’s goal of shifting 20 percent of Smith's dining budget toward real food—defined by the Real Food Challenge as local/community-based, fair, humane, and/or ecologically sound—by 2020.
The Student SGA Sustainability Committee seeks to connect Earth-conscious students with the SGA cabinet and school administration to implement progressive and sustainable practices on campus and is involved with such issues as the fossil fuel divestment campaign, sale of bottled water on campus, and dining hall sustainability. It promotes sustainability through outreach to students, participation in Earth Week, and other activities.
I became involved in the national campaign Real Food Challenge (RFC) as a sophomore. As a sustainable food concentrator, another student and I audited Smith's food purchases to determine how much "real" food, based on the RFC’s definition, it was buying. We then founded Smith Students for Food Justice to continue the research and to ask President McCartney to sign the Real Food Challenge Commitment. In the fall of 2016, she committed the college to working toward spending at least 20 percent of Smith’s annual dining dollars on real food by 2020 and to supporting the creation of a Food Systems Working Group.
Class of 2017
Environmental science and policy major; sustainable food concentration
Smith’s house system is the heart of student life. While each house is unique, all have EcoReps—students who maintain information about recycling and environmental information. Ecoreps have started numerous sustainable house initiatives, including composting and “April Showers,” an inter-house competition focused on water conservation.
Over the past two years, I've helped coordinate more than a dozen eager EcoReps to introduce experimental compost buckets into their house kitchens. We've collected some preliminary weight data and have learned what works best for communication with the house council and housekeepers to make composting a smoothly adopted habit of house sustainability. We have to make regeneration, repurposing and reuse accessible, empowering and fun! And it starts at home.
Class of 2018
Throughout the school year, students can participate in a wide array of events, including conferences, exhibitions, film screenings, fairs, walks and more.
At Fall Fest Skill Share, students have the chance to learn from each other. Whether it’s sewing a patch on a pair of jeans, crocheting a hat, drying clothes in the most environmentally friendly way, or another useful skill, promoting an aptitude for fixing and making things fosters self-sufficiency, a more collective approach to life and appreciation of available resources, both material and human. Run by Smith’s Eco-Reps, Skill Share includes other student organizations focused on environmental and social justice and skill-building.
In April, Smith’s Earth Week offers a full schedule of activities, such as an eco-crafts night, a panel discussion about local food, tree plantings, tours of the college’s Champion Trees, and the Earth Day Festival, which includes performances by campus a capella groups, games and tables hosted by campus groups.