By Kandace Fung
A slight, morning breeze dances through the booths, twirling through our hair, weaving around our fingers, and slipping right through the blades of the scissors as they cut right through the tape of the boxes. The green table clothes were opened and fanned out on the tables, Acure products and Amy’s soup cans were aesthetically arranged, and the white sun was gradually rising — everything was slowly being put into place.
There were still two more hours of set-up left and much to get done; however, it was nine o’clock, and class was calling for me to attend. I left the team of volunteers at the booths and headed to my science class. During the two hour long time of playing with circuits and batteries, my mind kept wandering off, wondering if set up was going well. I checked my phone every ten minutes, hoping to see a message from my friend who was helping with the finishing touches on the booths.
At last, the big hand reaches the ten. I pack all my books into my backpack and rush off to Flamson Plaza with my bike. Judi and the volunteers were all adjusting the items on the table, making sure everything was in the right place. We all put on our green Conscious College Road Tour shirts and were ready to teach forward everything we learned about eco-conscious living.
The entire group went booth by booth, attentively listening to Judi’s brief overviews of each sustainability theme: food, body, space, zero-waste, clean, and style. There was so much information, so much to learn. Excited yet nervous jitters went through my body, but the palpable energy from the sun’s warmth and my friends’ anticipation exhilarated me — we were all ready to open up the College Conscious Road Tour!
As people began to wake up and head off to class, our booths caught many eyes. Many times throughout the day, there were awkward intervals of time when there would be hardly any walking around the campus because they would be holed up in their classrooms. Thankfully, as the sun reached its peak, more and more people trickled through our booths. Lines started to pile up to take the entry and exit surveys. Nonetheless, the hype and energy of the volunteer crew spiked up as we interacted with many students, faculty, and staff about the key lifestyle themes of sustainability. All the interactions we had were very positive and effective since there was always something new to learn. Not a single person went by without learning at least a few new things.
I jumped around from booth to booth since I signed up to volunteer to discuss various themes. My favorite theme was body. I believe that body products are one of the key components of changes we need to make if we wish to effectively live more eco-consciously. Just about everyone in our communities uses body care products. Whether it is shampoo to ensure not-so-greasy hair or lip gloss to look nice, body care products are used every day and all the time! There is just so much to teach and learn and more aware of when it comes to the products we put on our bodies!
“Did you know that on average, women use about twelve body products daily that contain over 200 toxic chemicals?!?! Many people were shocked by this, including myself!”
Everyone who walked through the booths, even if their intentions were to grab some free samples or a free Chipotle burrito coupon, learned at least a few things about why or how we can live more sustainably. I know that all the volunteers and myself also learned a lot about what more we can do to become conscious of how our actions affect our environment and health.
Later that night, students and staff across the five Claremont Colleges gathered at the Claremont McKenna Auditorium for the College Conscious Road Tour workshop! Going into the workshop, I was doubtful of how effective it would be and if we would really get anything done. However, Judi led the discussion and asked us many questions about our campuses: problems we saw, initiatives we can improve on, and what we would like to see change in our own campuses and collectively as a five college consortium. About half of us were volunteers from earlier that day and about half of us did not attend the booths, so it was really inspiring and empowering to meet more people who cared about our environment.
Common concerns included waste that is produced on our campuses, since our colleges have many parties throughout the week, which always involves the red solo cup. Together we brainstormed reusable alternatives for the red solo cup, but there were many logistics to be worked out. Towards the end, we all came up with a rough idea of some steps we can take towards eliminating the red cups and get support for the more sustainable alternative. I left the workshop with my Yerba Mate in hand, really ecstatic and satisfied, knowing that there would be effective change happening soon.
Although the booths did not have as many attendees as I would have liked, the quality of the conversations at the booths were unprecedented, and the turnout at the Town Hall Meeting exceeded my expectations. Thank you to Judi Shils, Turning Green and their partners, Circle K, SSPEAR, eco-reps from the five college campuses, the participants, and the many volunteers we had for making the College Conscious Road Tour at CMC a huge success!!!
Kandace is a freshman from Corona, California. She is currently dual majoring in Biology and Literature at Claremont McKenna College. Besides trying to live more consciously, she enjoys reading, writing stories, sleeping, listening to spoken word, and eating chocolate. Some day, she hopes to become the next J.K. Rowling and travel the world.