College to revamp Eco-Reps program


Students working for the Office of Sustainability carry out Eco-Reps tasks. Photo by Maia Sperber / Beacon Staff

By Tomas Gonzalez, Staff Writer/Photographer

The college plans to reinstate Eco-Reps, students who promote on-campus sustainability, in fall 2019, a college official said.

The Eco-Reps program went inactive after spring 2018, when the students involved left the program for various reasons. Members of Facilities Management and a group of nine students from the Office of Sustainability carry out the former Eco-Reps’ responsibilities, such as the Emerson Food Cam and K-Cups, while the Eco-Reps positions remain vacant.

Former Eco-Reps, under the sustainability manager, designed the Emerson Food Cam and K-Cups initiatives to reduce waste and consumption. Students donate unwanted food to the community through the Food Cam, and thus alleviate waste. The Eco-Reps would clear the station and compost any leftover food every half hour.

For the K-Cups initiative, student employees and facilities workers collect Keurig Cups waste from bins around campus and send them to the manufacturer, Green Mountain, for recycling every two weeks through an Emerson-paid program.

Junior Abigail Hibbard said she collects K-Cups for the Office of Sustainability and gets them ready for recycling. Hibbard said she works alongside nine other students who perform tasks similar to those done by Eco-Reps.

Assistant Vice President of Facilities and Campus Services Duncan Pollock said he will reinstate Eco-Reps and not the Eco-Ambassador, an initiative former Sustainability Manager Amy Elvidge took to involve less employees. Students who choose to work for the reinstated program would earn minimum wage, $12 per hour.

Pollock said he plans to incorporate the Emerson Green Collective—a student organization that serves as an umbrella group for the Bee Enthusiasts at Emerson, Vegan Emerson Group, and Green Magazine—and the Office of Housing and Residence Life to gain more student engagement by increasing the amount of advertisement for available Eco-Rep positions through events and posters.

“I think we should have more informal meetings with [Student Government Association] and the Green Collective before a new sustainability manager comes in,” Pollock said. “Partnering with ResLife and the Green Collective is a good idea because facilities does not have the same level of student engagement.”

Pollock said Emerson used to have eight Eco-Reps who worked under the Sustainability Manager until spring 2018. Elvidge, when she started at the college in 2015, decided to stop using Eco-Reps and switch to one Eco-Ambassador, because not all of the student employees could work the same amount of hours .

Former Eco-Ambassador Carrie Cullen said she worked 20 hours per week and did the same amount of work as the eight other Eco-Reps despite being the only Eco-Ambassador on the team. Cullen said she was paid $13 per hour.

“Eight people was not the most effective way to create change in campus,” Cullen said. “There were too many people working on small projects, instead of one that was most effective for everyone.”