By: Chelsea Malacara, Sustainability Education & Outreach Coordinator
Since the end of last semester, the Winter Solstice has passed and a new decade has begun.
This time of year sparks a time when many of us are looking forward to new possibilities,
reassessing our past, and setting new goals. Every spring semester, the Office of Sustainability
staff and Eco-Reps commit to a new sustainability goal for the spring semester. For some, it is
as small as cutting out meat once a week, for others it is as large as managing their time
differently so they can catch the bus or carpool instead of driving. At our weekly meetings we
check in with each other asking questions like what are the challenges, what have been the
benefits, can you encourage others to do the same and how? As the Sustainability Education &
Outreach Coordinator at USM, I sometimes struggle with this effort. The things I could do
differently sometimes insurmountable yet, I have to remind myself, as I want to remind you that
even the smallest, seemingly insignificant changes, add up and make a big impact.
So what am I committed to doing this year?
This year I have two changes I’d like to make that stem from a belief in social equity and
commitment to reducing environmental impact. The first is to buy less from Amazon. I believe in
fair wages and a healthy work environment, two areas in which Amazon need some
improvement. The second is the environmental impact that buying online has. Often times your
items don’t come together in one shipment, there is a lot of unnecessary packaging, and I have
been known to make multiple orders in one week. Definitely room for improvement.
Secondly, I am committed to only buy clothes second hand, allowing myself three exceptions
throughout the year. While I have always been big on thrifting for clothes I wear outside the
office, finding professional wear for work that is in good condition was a challenge last year.
However, I am determined to find the right places and put in the extra effort to source all of my
clothes second hand. According to the UN Environment Program, the fashion industry is
responsible for 10% of carbon emissions in addition to several other environmental impacts to
the world’s bodies of water from microplastics and pollution.
This semester, the Office of Sustainability would like to challenge you to commit to a sustainable
habit. The Office already has a few resources and programs to get you started.
● The Free Store on the Gorham Campus will be open a couple of times a week
and has everything from clothes to school supplies all for free
● Eco-Reps will be launching a community-based social marketing campaign to
support the reintroduction of Sodexo’s Greenwave containers to reduce
single-use plates for food