Kogod Sustainability Club takes ambitious action to make environmental impact

Community, skill-building and zero waste are key focus points this spring, members say

Kogod Sustainability Club takes ambitious action to make environmental impact
Members of the Kogod Sustainability Club reuse and stamp their own t-shirts as a sustainable alternative to buying.

After being dormant for the entire 2020-2021 academic year, the Kogod Sustainability Club is up and running in full force. 

From hosting events concentrated on the reduction of material consumption to finding eco-friendly solutions to wasteful problems, KSC hopes to create a network and share knowledge with the University and students on skills they can develop to be sustainability-conscious and to “make a difference in the DC community and beyond,” as said on their Engage page.

Meeting once a month, KSC has hosted guests in the sustainability industry, taught workshops for hard skills such as carbon accounting and gone off campus to Glenstone Museum to meet a landscape architect, said KSC President Rachel Weiss, who is a graduate student in the sustainable management master’s program. 

The AU Zero Waste Club as well as the Office of Sustainability “are definitely relationships [KSC] hopes to explore this spring semester,” said Weiss.

KSC has taken guidance from the United Nations 17 sustainable development goals, according to Weiss. 

“We have used the U.N. sustainable goals for our framework for our club activities,” Weiss said. “We try to hit all 17 goals in some way. For example, volunteering at a food bank.” 

Earlier in the semester, the club did a Halloween costume swap with the fashion merchandising club, Revolution: The AU Fashion Society to cut down on consumption and the use of materials for something that wouldn’t be long-lasting. KSC also created and stamped their own club t-shirts instead of buying new ones.

Both the costume swap and the DIY t-shirts put U.N. Sustainable Goal number 12, “Responsible Consumption and Reduction,” into practice. The club also does “Plogging,” jogging or walking and picking up trash simultaneously, which is supportive of U.N. Sustainable Goal number 11, “Sustainable Cities and Communities.” 

“We have a goal to achieve zero emissions at club-sponsored events and meetings,” said Kathryn Hundley, the club’s data analyst and a graduate student in the sustainable management master’s program. “We are measuring waste at every in-person event, doing 270 hours of service and using our baseline emissions calculation this year to set a base year to reach our emission reduction goal.”

The overarching messaging of KSC is to emphasize the importance of supportive networks, applying classroom knowledge to real-world situations and helping out others to keep the planet healthy, said Hundley.

“Sustainability is about community and how to support businesses in your community. You can choose to buy your produce from a community-supported agricultural farm or farmers market,” said Hundley. 

KSC seeks to help students take action on environmental issues they may not even know about. While Hundley recognizes that AU students do an overall good job being mindful, she still encourages coming up with creative solutions to improve. One example, she said, is carpooling to events to reduce carbon emissions.

“Anyone can learn how to do this as long as they are a critical thinker,” Weiss said. “Encouraging people to think critically about coming up with sustainable solutions is helpful. It’s important to come up with sustainable solutions using the knowledge of people around you and the materials that already exist.” 


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