Live music, free clothes and kettle corn abounded on Old Campus Sunday afternoon as the Student Taskforce for Environmental Partnership (STEP) held an event meant to teach Yalies ecologically sustainable lives.
Over 100 students, alumni and members of the New Haven community attended Greenfest, which educated them about various recycling methods through a series of interactive activities. Greenfest featured a hydration station — which chills and filters water from a hose, removing the need for wasteful plastic bottles — an educational recycling quiz and a raffle to win either a self-filtering water bottle or gift cards to Blue State Coffee or Ashley’s Ice Cream. Students said they came for the free food and clothes, but left with a better knowledge of what can be recycled on campus.
Justin Scott GRD ’13, campus outreach coordinator for Yale’s Office of Sustainability, said the event was primarily about raising visibility for STEP.
“A lot of what we do is behind the scenes in each of the colleges, so it’s important that people see some of the things we’re up to,” he said. “As long as people stop by, exchange some clothing and learn something about sustainability, it’s a successful event.”
Greenfest began in 2008 as a joint project of STEP and the Yale Student Environment Coalition, but last year STEP took on the full responsibility for the event. Because STEP is run through the Office of Sustainability, the Office funded Greenfest and provided informational posters about sustainability to display on Old Campus.
In addition to the recycling quiz, Sunday’s event included a test attendees could take to gauge their knowledge about sustainability as a way to engage attendees with the learning experience.
“We want people to learn that sustainability can be a fun and exciting thing,” STEP co-coordinator Erica Rothman ’12 said.
After taking the recycling quiz, during which STEP leaders asked participants about the reusability of various objects, Margot Mellette ’14 said she learned that it is possible to recycle more items than she previously realized, like solo cups.
Lauren Phillips ’12, this year’s Greenfest organizer, said this was the first year Greenfest featured Eli Exchange, the STEP-run clothing donation program. Eli Exchange, which has been popular among students, collects gently used clothing, items and accessories from bins in residential college laundry rooms and allows Yalies to take these items for free. Leftovers are donated to Clothes Without Borders, a nonprofit thrift shop on Grand Avenue.
Phillips said STEP decided to include Eli Exchange in this year’s event after observing its popularity. Greenfest attendees could choose from items ranging from t-shirts to transparent aqua shorts, which Phillips said are “great for Halloween costumes.”
By the end of the event, at least 108 students had signed up for the raffle. Phillips said she was amazed at the turnout.
Other STEP leaders agreed that the event was successful in drawing students to an important cause despite their busy schedules.
“I think sustainability is really important, but it’s easily pushed aside, especially as a student living in a dorm,” said Justine Kolata ’12, leader of special projects for STEP and the coordinator of last year’s Greenfest. “I thought it would be a good way to remind people about the environment without being preachy.”
STEP will host a sustainable tailgate during the Yale-Brown football game on Nov. 5.