William & Mary

Fall 2019 EcoReps Recap: Sustainable Food

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    Neel Simpson  My name is Neel Simpson, and I am a sophomore studying geology and environmental science at the college. I'm interested in many environmental issues, and am particularly looking forward to discussions on our community's carbon footprint and ways that we can reduce plastic waste. In my free time, I play guitar, read, and love going hiking whenever I get the chance. My favorite animal is the Galapagos Penguin and my dream vacation would be climbing Mt. Everest.  Neel Simpson
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    Lauren Croissant  My name is Lauren Croissant and I am a senior double majoring in Biology and Environmental Science. I'm also involved in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and I volunteer for the Department of Natural Resources in Colonial National Historical Park. I love all things outdoors and sustainability and a fun fact about me is that I spent more time in the woods than indoors this summer!  Lauren Croissant
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    Emily Topness  Hello! My name is Emily and I am a sophomore majoring in Anthropology and Environmental Science. I joined EcoReps this year and assisted with making Freshman Move-In more sustainable. There are so many easy changes we can make in our lives to be more sustainable, and I love being a part of an organization that brings this information to campus. On campus, I am also involved in the Spotswood Society as a volunteer tour guide in the Wren Building and I am a member of Blitz, the club running team on campus.  Emily Topness
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    Amelia Lowe  Amelia is a History and Environmental Policy student at the college. Besides pursuing her passions in conserving the environment and promoting its wellbeing, she sings in the William & Mary Choir and is president of the Colleges Against Cancer club. She loves being outdoors and has a passion for cooking and baking. She especially loves finding new ways to incorporate sustainability into her lifestyle.  Amelia Lowe
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    Jonny Malks  Jonny is a Junior double majoring in English and Environmental Policy. His interest in sustainability is fueled by his curiosity and passion in studying food and food systems. When Jonny is not pondering the cultivation of Chestnuts in Massachusetts or the way that Edith Wharton situates her female protagonists inside greenhouses, he is captaining William & Mary's ultimate frisbee team and writing songs with his best friend, Gabe. Jonny is so excited to be a part of the EcoReps program!  Jonny Malks
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    Maddie Talnagi  Maddie is a senior at the college studying psychology and history. Originally from a coastal community in Virginia, Maddie is passionate about the ecological well-being of the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed. She spent this past summer working for the EPA in Washington and after graduation hopes to attend graduate school for environmental policy and conservation. On campus, Maddie is dedicated to improving sustainability efforts and in addition to serving as an eco representative she also works as a park ambassador for the Parks Research Lab. In her free time, Maddie can be found hiking or working with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation to restore oyster habitats in the Chesapeake Bay.  Maddie Talnagi
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    Madelyn McLean  Madelyn is a freshman majoring in biology and is super excited to be an EcoRep. She is passionate about living a sustainable lifestyle and loves eating at local restaurants. Outside of school, she enjoys singing, baking, traveling to new places, and playing with her dog.  Madelyn McLean
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    Olivia Kamer  My name is Olivia Kamer and I am a junior majoring in Psychology and Linguistics. I am pursuing a career in speech pathology, but in the meantime I am working on spreading awareness about environmental conservation and protection! I have been working with William and Mary's Diversion Committee to come up with strategies to divert and decrease the campus's waste. I got into sustainability because I am passionate about biodiversity, and reducing waste and non-renewable energy use is a great way to help maintain our essential ecosystems.  Olivia Kamer
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    Rebecca Topness  Hi! My name is Rebecca, and I'm a sophomore majoring in Geology and Environmental Science. I joined EcoReps at the beginning of this year when I helped out with recycling during freshman move-in. I love having the opportunity to help educate campus about sustainability. Besides EcoReps, I'm a Peer Advisor and I'm also a marketing co-chair for TEDx.  Rebecca Topness
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    Sarah Snipes  Sarah Snipes is a Geology and Environmental Science major who has a passion for the environment and learning. When asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, her response was, “A pine cone picker”. Now, she is an EcoRepresentative Club Captain who also aspires to motivate others to explore a positive relationship with the outdoors. She enjoys promoting the importance of sustainability with EcoReps through many of their activities.  Sarah Snipes
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The W&M Sustainability EcoReps are a cohort of students who work to promote sustainability-related topics on campus. Throughout Fall 2019, the EcoReps had the opportunity to learn about sustainable food and educate their peers on how to eat more sustainably. EcoReps took part in a tour of Commons Dining Hall, posted sustainable food tips on the W&M Sustainability Instagram, presented at Sustainabite, and organized a farmers market cooking demonstration.

The Office of Sustainability asked EcoRep Neel Simpson what he learned in his semester learning about sustainable food.

Question: What is sustainable food to you?
Neel Simpson: Sustainable food means food that comes from a system that promotes human, environmental, and animal well-being in a way that can last for generations. Large-scale agriculture in our industrial society leads to pollution, environmental degradation, and profits off of the abuse of both animals and agricultural laborers. Promoting environmental thought in food production is crucial because our agricultural industry is part of a larger global ecosystem and cannot last if we continue to abuse natural resources such as nutrient-rich soil, clean water, and diverse animal and plant species. We need to acknowledge the impact of agriculture on the environment in order to create a durable food supply to feed our growing population.

Sustainable food also means farms that treat animals with kindness and acknowledges that farm animals are sentient beings. As we move forward in the animal right's movement, it becomes even more important that we cannot continue to support an agricultural system that profits off of animal abuse. Finally, a sustainable food system must treat agricultural laborers fairly and ensure a livable wage. Industrial agriculture's mistreatment of workers is a huge reason for wealth and gender inequality both in the United States and abroad. 

Q: What new information are you taking away after learning about sustainable food?

NS: I learned about the small changes that consumers can make in their daily lives as well as the large-scale systems that make our food supply unsustainable. I learned about opportunities in and around campus such as the farmer's market, the green box initiative, and locally grown ingredients added to the menus of our dining halls. 

Q: Which EcoReps initiatives did you participate in this semester?

NS: I participated in the October EcoChallenge, in which we promoted different ways to change our dining habits to become more sustainable. I spread information about organic eating through an instagram takeover, describing the health benefits of eating organically and the ways to incorporate organic dining into a college lifestyle.

Q: Can you describe the most meaningful experience you had as an EcoRep this semester?

NS: I think the most meaningful part for me was the positive feedback I received from friends and instagram followers about my posts. I tried to post a mix on information on why eating organic is beneficial as well as how we can eat more organically. It was really fulfilling to know that others appreciated what I shared and felt like they wanted to make similar lifestyle changes.

Q: What would you like to share with the William & Mary community about eating sustainably?

NS: I'd like to say that we are all part of a larger system and community that relies on all of our participation in order to make a change. As a campus community, we claim that environmental issues and social justice are things that we'd like to work on- yet we make decisions everyday that contradict these values. Individuals can't create this type of large-scale change, so we need to acknowledge that as a campus and community, we must all try to do better to stand up for what we believe in.