Student Residence Life: Stay green with the EcoHouse community

Putnam Residence Hall, home to EcoHouse since fall 2009, is comprised of 85 members who attempt to implement positive actions toward sustainability in the Geneseo community.

Roughly one-third of EcoHouse residents are involved in Geneseo Environmental Organization and help to raise environmental sustainability awareness through the club as well as through EcoHouse. Membership in GEO is not required of EcoHouse residents, but the strong showing proves that many residents are motivated not only to help the environment but also to spread their passions to a larger body of people.

Some residents of EcoHouse are actively involved in working with the Geneseo Community Garden as well. With help from Kenneth Cooper of the English department, these students help to eliminate transportation, processing and packaging steps from the agribusiness system. Each of these steps increases stress on the environment but adds little or no benefit to the food product.

At the end of March, EcoHouse's house council initiated "No Impact Week" to promote a widespread understanding of the importance of eating local foods. Cooper gave a presentation on the environmental advantages of buying food locally rather than from a a distant distributor.

Senior Maddie Hope, the assistant resident director of Putnam and Wyoming Halls, has screened documentaries throughout the year to bring recognition to social justice.

Senior Gabri Rice, a resident assistant in EcoHouse, put together the "Drop, Swap, and Shop" center in the basement of the building. There, residents and other students can donate clothes, shoes and accessories to the "shop" and then pick out something new for themselves, rendering traditional shopping – and wasting of unwanted clothing – unnecessary.

"The main focus throughout the hall is to create a community where social justice and environmentalism is stressed," Hope said. This strong sense of community makes it quite easy for EcoHouse residents to learn, grow and thrive.