"You must be the change you wish to see in the world."
From IUP E.C.O.'s Facebook page
I've been bringing you eco-friendly tips for the last few months, little things you can do to be friendly to the environment. If you are someone who is looking to do more and become involved to make a difference, you are in luck. Thanks to the passion and hardwork from some students and professors, IUP has a student organization that is trying to make a difference on campus and in the community.
I recently sat down with Peter Roquemore, an active member of the Environmentally Conscious Organization, or ECO, to learn all about the group and how students can get involved.
Peter told me that ECO is "a bunch of cool kids having fun and changing IUP and the world." Who wouldn't want to become involved with that?
ECO has about a dozen consistently active, passionate members. Dr. Amanda Poole is the advisor. They strive to raise awareness and cause change dealing with sustainability, recycling and the environment on campus and in the community.
This year, they have been working on gaining support to enact a Green Fee on tuition. This would be a $5 fee on students tuition each semester. The money would go directly to projects that would make our campus more sustainable and green. On ECO's blog they say that a venti caramel macchiato costs $5 and if one gave up just one beverage each semester, this would cover the fee and go towards making campus a better place. They are also working on plans for a garden on campus. They want to promote the environmental benefits of buying local food and this would be an excellent way to do so. Promoting local will be a big part of the agenda for the upcoming spring semester and ECO would also like to take steps to give students more local food options in Foster. ECO was also involved with the planning and running of Marcellus Shale Week this fall.
The past few years, Peter told me, the club spent a lot of time building the group and planning what to do. Now that they are established, the have spent time dorm storming to raise awareness about environmental issues and they even took several trips to West Virginia coal mines.
Peter said that a main goal of ECO is to build sustaining leadership here on campus including students and administration so that down the road, ECO is still here and a concern and passion is still here to bring about change. ECO reaches out to students to get them interested and involved and reaches out to administration to hold them accountable and ensure that the change we want to see can happen.
Peter also shared with me some of his personal convictions. I was curious to know his thoughts on the overall concern students on campus have for the environment. He said that although there seems to be a good deal of interest, there is a lack of action. Peter and I agree that there needs to be a way to show students how easy being eco-friendly can be and that they don't need to make major lifestyle changes to have a positive impact.
Some advice from Peter? He told me that as students, we should educate ourselves on all environmental issues - big and small. They small things we do every day are important but we also need to be aware and knowledgeable about the larger issues.
So how can you get involved with ECO? This semester, meetings are in Keith 232, Thursaday's at 7 p.m. "Come to ECO!" Peter told me. You can also check out their Facebook page, just search IUP E.C.O.
Although it is the end of the semester, ECO will be here in the Spring and ready to take action to make the planet a cleaner, happier place. If you are looking for a group who strives to make positive change, go to their meetings, get involved and inspire change.