A relatively new club on campus, the United Nations Association of USD, is hosting its second “UN Day” event to promote sustainability and raise awareness of the club.
The event will showcase student-led sustainability projects and include presentations about recycling on campus from Anna Moore and Caitlin Reimers, an online sustainable fashion business from Brigit Blote and food sustainability from Bennett Anderson and Rachel Sestak.
Each of the presentations will tie into UNA’s 17 sustainable development goals, which the organization gets from the United Nations. These goals promote access to clean water and affordable energy, among other practices.
Reimers, vice president of UNA, said she hopes the event will show students can create real change and engage in sustainable practices, even if they’re not majoring in the field.
“A good majority of (our members) aren’t even sustainability majors, they’re just interested in what’s going on, and I hope this will be proof that these goals are not just a discussion, and that people are actually doing really good things with these goals,” Reimers said.
Even with five presentations, Reimers said, the club is hitting nine or 10 of its sustainability goals, which makes for a well-rounded group of projects.
Part of the reason sustainability has become an important topic in recent years, Reimers said, is because people are at a point where they’re privileged enough to be able to pay attention to things outside of themselves, like the environment.
Breana Spinler, president of UNA, said the United States is transitioning from an industrial to a post-industrial society, which means more people work in offices than produce goods.
“When we’re not focusing on those manual jobs … and it’s not so close to us, we can focus on maybe the environmental impact of it,” Spinler said.
Another reason sustainability is gaining traction is visibility, Spinler said. Because of technology like social media, ideas about sustainability can spread more easily and reach broader audiences. In addition, Spinler said people have become increasingly aware of the effects of climate change in recent years.
“Sure, climate change has been talked about for years and years and years, but we are seeing the direct impact it’s having,” Spinler said. “We are having years of more-intense hurricanes, we are having years of intense droughts in California … so I think instead of just ideology, it’s become visible for people.”
Reimers said for her presentation, she wants to educate people to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to sustainability. She said it may seem like a scary concept, but there are positives to it and still time to change how people live.
“I hope to show people that recycling and composting are actually like 2% of the issue,” Reimers said. “So instead of having to figure out how much waste we can get out of the landfill … what we can start doing is living more of a sustainable lifestyle.”
UNA’s goal, Spinler said, is to educate its members about sustainability even if they aren’t directly affected by certain practices. One goal the group focused on in their earlier meanings was clean water and sanitation. Spinler said while people in Vermillion have access to running water and toilets that are safe to use, these facilities are still inaccessible to some.
“If (a member) is not necessarily an environmentally-focused person, then they can go out and use their own platform or their future career to help the world in some other way that ultimately forms the sustainable mission that the UN hopes to implement around the world,” Spinler said.
UN Day will take place in the Akeley-Lawrence Science Center room 125 at 7 p.m. on Oct. 21.