SUU’s first Sustainability Week

SUU's Sustainability Club shows how easy it is to mend worn jeans with embroidery thread.

Southern Utah University’s Sustainability Club had their first Sustainability Week, starting on March 6 and spanning until March 10. With five days of fun activities, students had the opportunity to learn about sustainability and find ways to live a more environmentally conscious lifestyle. 

Bring Your Own Bowl — Documentary Night

On Monday, students kicked off Sustainability Week with an indoor movie night. The event was advertised as BYOB, or “Bring Your Own Bowl.” Attendees were treated to an educational documentary and free popcorn. 

Sustainable Skills and Swaps Fair

The Sustainability Club took over the Living Room in the Sharwan Smith Student Center for their second event on Tuesday: the Sustainable Skills and Swaps Fair. This event displayed green alternatives that students can “swap” into their lifestyle. Air-drying clothing, cutting back on water usage and using reusable food storage were some of the ways for students to reduce their carbon footprint, according to the informational note-cards at each table. 

One member of the club managed a table full of sustainably sourced fabric and examples of how to repair it with thread when it gets torn. Another table was all about hygiene and how to make soaps that are less wasteful. Each table provided valuable information about a specific aspect of sustainability. 

Students were able to browse these displays in between classes. With each visitor that stopped by, the club accomplished its mission of raising awareness, both for the club and the idea of sustainable living. On their way out, club members offered attendees a free cookie and a mending kit. 

Sustainable Service Event — SUU Community Garden

On Wednesday, the Sustainability Club encouraged students and community members to volunteer at various projects at the community garden, which is a collaborative project between the Sustainability Club and the Community Garden Club.

“I didn’t even know that Sustainability Club existed until I found out about this, the community garden,” said Ben Cousins, a longtime member of the club. “The community garden started in 2020; I joined [that] summer.”

There were plenty of opportunities to help out, including removing old mulch, cutting up dead bushes and turning the compost pile, an important but gooey job that turns food scraps from the SUU dining hall into rich soil. This project is important for sustainability because it reduces waste in landfills while providing the garden with a cost-effective source of soil nutrients.

Cousins believes everyone can do better when it comes to sustainability and being eco-friendly. He invites anyone interested in learning more about the garden to join them at 5 p.m. on Thursdays. The garden is located at 296 S. 500 W.

SUU Campus Sustainability Tour

The campus tour on Thursday featured information about the initiatives on campus to maintain and improve the sustainability and eco-friendliness of SUU. These include reducing the amount of electricity consumed, promoting recycling, planting trees, using more solar energy and a myriad of other strategies.

Emily Dean, chair of the history, sociology and anthropology department, which includes the sustainability studies minor, joined the group on their tour. She said, “The big things are savings on natural gas and electrical charges.”

These savings can be significant while having little to no impact on the quality of campus facilities. In the parking lot just east of the J. L. Sorenson Physical Education Building, the tour guide explained that the university’s power company expressed concern about whether the lot’s power meter was operating correctly, as a recent energy saving project had reduced the power consumption of the lot’s lamps by 87%.

Dean praised the Sustainability Club’s leadership for their success in helping create a more sustainable campus and their continued efforts to improve the community even further. Dean also encourages students to speak up when they want to see change. “They have powerful voices that are listened to, and if they have a great idea, I think they’re going to find faculty and staff who will try to support them,” Dean said.

Special Interests Clubs Fair

On Friday, the Sustainability Club closed out the week’s activities with a table at the Special Interests Clubs Fair. Staffed by a few friendly members, this table provided information about the club and how students can get involved. 

One student, Eleanor, was especially knowledgeable about the club’s mission. “Anybody who is passionate about the outdoors knows that what we do in our houses and our lives affects the outdoors,” Eleanor said. 

She cited climate change as another example of the importance of sustainability. “Being sustainable and encouraging others around you to be sustainable makes it so we will hopefully have the outdoors around a lot longer,” said Eleanor. 

Encouraging others around you to be sustainable is exactly what the Sustainability Club did with this week of fun, informative activities. Each activity showed students how to get involved in sustainability, either through the club or just by picking up some new habits. 

The club typically communicates via Slack, and if you missed out on the Club Fair, you can join the Sustainability Club at their weekly meetings. The club meets every Tuesday at 5 p.m. in the library. 


Story by: Nick Stein and Jacob Horne
Photos by: Nick Stein