By Lindsey Boisvin | Oct 21, 2015

By Lindsey Boisvin, Facilities Services’ Sustainability Communications Intern

Although Halloween is just around the corner, UW Sustainability has been meticulously organizing their own series of events – without the "tricks," and pumpkins guts.

From Oct. 26 until Oct. 31, the SustainableUW Festival will highlight sustainable leadership opportunities, contributions made to make campus green, and showcase a range of programs. Activities spread throughout the week range from lectures, to meet and greets, and even a few pre-festival events.

The SustainableUW Festival – originally known as the Sustainability Summit – dates all the way back to 2010. What used to be known for a few key events is now a full-fledged festival. As the event grows, more behind-the-scenes planning is required.

"It’s definitely a full team effort for the office," said Daimon Eklund, the communications coordinator for UW Sustainability. The sustainability staff have been working for months to coordinate logistics and communication efforts. Subcommittees were developed, weekly meetings were put in place, and cohesive plans were implemented.

It’s a lot of work to keep everything running smoothly, but Eklund said the point of the festival is to showcase not only UW Sustainability’s work, but the sustainability efforts of every department, student, and community member around campus. Facilities Services departments – such as UW Surplus, Transportation Services, and UW Recycling, will be out and about to share ways their units are instigating sustainable solutions.

Raising awareness of the University’s efforts and operations is one the key missions of the festival. Going green is integral to the sustainability of the campus community. Research, student participation, and the overall longevity of campus rely on sustainable methods and infrastructure.

"Going green" isn't just for environmental and forest science majors, either. Sustainability is engrained into nearly every department, even in subtle ways.

The Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies department, for example, has a course about women’s movements directed by environmental conflicts. The American Indian Studies department holds courses about bicultural environments and natural resources. Even French and Italian Studies has a course titled, "The Water Crisis in Literature and Film."

On Oct. 29, students and campus community members can take their in-class knowledge and dive head-first into the corporate world by talking with representatives from business, non-profit, and government sectors through the Sustainability Careers Meet and Greet.

Eklund said both sides – the organizations and the students – get a lot out of the meet and greet. Students have the opportunity to network, and learn how to sustainability can be part of their future.

Discussing the future is essential to sustainability. One of the events put on in part with the SustainableUW Festival is The Huskies for Humanity event, "Art, Research, and Restoration: UW’s Connection to the Duwamish River." The poster sessions and presentations focus on current and former work on the Duwamish River from campus community members.

While sustainability can be seen through environmental impacts – like those on the Duwamish River – sustainability can also be integral to the business structure of large corporations like Boeing and Starbucks.

Even everyday activities, like composting instead of throwing out your drinkware, can make a positive impact on issues like waste diversion.

Programs implemented by Facilities Services’ UW Recycling are scattered around campus, and help community members make easy changes to their everyday habits. Major outdoor areas have food waste composting bins. Bathrooms – like those in Odegaard, Allen, and Suzzallo – have been revamped with the help of Facilities Services’ Custodial Services to compost paper towels. MiniMax, a program started by UW Recycling in 2008, was implemented across various offices throughout campus. MiniMax promotes awareness of landfill-bound waste by having users recycle desk material into a 28-quart bin, while using a small 3-quart mini garbage attachment.

To get a full scope of the sustainable happenings on campus, community members can gather in Red Square on Oct. 28 to chat with organizations who are trying to make a sustainable future a reality. The sustainability exhibitor fair, one of the most popular events of the festival, creates an opportunity for student groups, community organizations, and various UW programs to show off their work and encourage students to participate in making a lasting impact. Facilities Services’ UW Surplus will be tabling during exhibitor fair, handing out reusable grocery totes to promote diversion of bag waste.

"We hope that the festival engages with people who may not normally be aware of sustainability on campus," said Claudia Frere-Anderson, the Director of UW Sustainability. "We hope students and faculty of any discipline come out to one of the events."

Last year, the exhibitor fair was a success, despite a downpour. Eklund said that between 40 to 50 organizations were stationed throughout Red Square, eager to engage.

"Throughout the day, even with the weather, we had crowds of people come through," Eklund said. "Even in the rain, people were willing to stop to talk and listen."

Want to learn more about our SustainableUW Festival events? Check out the festival events page for an updated calendar.