While it’s not surprising that Colin Heneghan, a junior at Bryant University in Smithfield, recently found himself at a Myrtle Beach, S.C., Walmart searching for a set of speakers to amplify his spring-break sunbathing plans, his decision-making process might be.
“One was made out of 50 percent recycled material and the other [wasn’t]. The recycled one was a little bit more, but it’s the small changes that can really make a huge impact,” Heneghan explained. “My family never grew up using any of that stuff. But small things have opened my eyes about how we use materials.”
Heneghan’s eyes were opened when he and 17 other Bryant upperclassmen traveled last winter to Costa Rica to earn credits in a sustainable-marketing class that focused on examining the country’s coffee trade, from bean to cup.
Overwhelming curiosity in the class, organized and taught by professors Sharmin Attaran and Stefanie Boyer, subsequent social media outreach efforts and on-campus events all suggest a growing student interest in leading a sustainable lifestyle. And universities across the region are stepping up efforts to feed that desire.
“People are starting to question where everything is coming from,” Attaran said. “All my students are much more aware of the content in their food that they buy, the clothes that they wear.”
Calling the sustainable movement a trend, however, could be contradictory to the permanent place local higher education institutions are aiming to find for it to meet student demands.
The ECCO (Environmental Conscious Communitarian) House at Wheaton College, in Norton, Mass., has long been one of the most involved of the college’s theme houses devoted to living-learning environments.