Natalie Hammer and Ellie Jankowski Hope Advocates for Sustainability

HOLLAND — Hope College’s commitment to sustainability is evident through the work of the Hope Advocates for Sustainability, a team of student interns who were in action before fall-semester classes even began at the end of August.

Hope Advocates for Sustainability, known to students as HAS, promotes various aspects of sustainability on campus in areas such as waste management, transportation, residential life, conservation and environmental justice.

This year’s 14 interns made an early start, implementing a freshman move-in day recycling program on Aug. 26 for the boxes and packaging that would be left over after the approximately 950 members of the new Class of 2026 had settled into their new campus home.

Interns were stationed at two locations on campus, where they were available to answer questions about recycling and worked to properly dispose of materials. In total, and in just under five hours, 90 pounds of plastic film and styrofoam were recycled and a 20-yard industrial-sized cardboard recycling container was filled.

This initiative helped to save all of those materials from going to the landfill and helped educate incoming students on campus recycling.

The success of the move-in day recycling program is propelling HAS into the semester with many other events and projects in development. Interns are looking for ways to increase student involvement in sustainable efforts through the use of social media and various on-campus events.

In past years, HAS has facilitated numerous events during Campus Sustainability Month in October. Some include Holland State Park and Kollen Park clean-ups, information tables addressing the complexities of recycling, and a reusable utensil event where over 60 sets of utensils collected from local thrift stores were given away.

This year, interns have begun to dream about additional ways Hope’s campus and student body can become more aware of their impact on the environment.

HAS plans on partnering with various on-campus organizations such as the Student Activity Committee and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion to empower as many students as possible to be activists for change. HAS plans to continue its Stormwater Stewards Program, through which on-campus cottage and apartment residents are encouraged to keep the stormwater drain in front of their building clear of litter and debris.

Hope’s campus also offers a variety of green programs through which students can recycle candy wrappers, used pens, batteries and plastic bags in various locations around campus.

Hope’s sustainable efforts are not restricted to recycling, but flow into dining and waste management services as well. Students who live in cottages and apartments are able to request compost bins to dispose of their food waste and compostable materials.

— Hope College junior Natalie Hammer, a social work and German major, and senior Ellie Jankowski, a business and communications major, are co-presidents of Hope Advocates for Sustainability.