SEA brings sustainability on and off campus

September 14, 2018

Students for Environmental Action (SEA) is one of the largest student-run environmental groups on campus, lead by Co-Presidents Jeremy Goodsynder ’20 and Sophie Edelman ’21. Goodsynder is majoring in environmental studies and anthropology while Edelman is majoring in HSSP.

“SEA is a club that promotes sustainability on campus through small steps that add up to make a real impact,” explained Edelman in an email to The Brandeis Hoot. “We make sure Brandeis students have the opportunity of, and know the importance of, sustainability.”

The club does different things in the fall and spring semesters, explained Goodsynder. At the beginning of the fall semester, club members vote on three or four initiatives that they hope to focus on during the semester that may require funding. The E-board splits off to lead each of these initiatives and utilizes the Brandeis Sustainability Fund (BSF) to provide them with money they may need to fund their projects.

Second semester focuses more on advocacy and teaching Brandeis students about sustainability, which are mainly events that do not require fundraising. “We have a coffeehouse event in Chums every year. We always serve mozzarella sticks. The tradition started before I came to Brandeis,” said Goodsynder. Other events include trash sorting at events or in Upper Usdan to try to divert recyclables and compostable items from landfill.

Goodsynder and Edelman had very different paths getting involved in sustainability in general. “Environmental stuff has been a defining characteristic of my life for a while now,” said Goodsynder. “I read a book about climate change when I was 10. And when I went down to dinner with my family, I pushed away a plate of gyros and told my parents I was a vegetarian. They doubted me then and it’s been 10 years since I’ve eaten meat.” He remembers running around the house and unplugging electronics and trying to make a difference from a young age.

On the other hand, Edelman realized the importance of sustainability from her environment. “I live in New York City and if nothing else, it has taught me that a lot of people means even more waste,” wrote Edelman. “While I personally try to live sustainably, that doesn’t mean that my streets aren’t still covered in trash, and I don’t have to suffer through the summer days where the air quality is so bad the city warns against going outside. Sustainability is big in my life because I feel like I have a responsibility to help others learn how to do little things to make big change.”

One of the most memorable experiences Edelman had while being a part of SEA was going to a supermarket that brought affordable, healthy food to a food desert area of Massachusetts. Food desert areas are places that are typically low-income and have limited availability to affordable and nutritious foods. “What really drove home for me was that sustainability isn’t always sitting behind a computer sending emails to arrange and get funding for workshops. Sometimes working and advocating for sustainability means getting your hands dirty and spilling juice on yourself,” wrote Edelman.

A memorable initiative for Goodsynder was convincing the administration to limit the amount that the lawns were being watered, especially after rain showers. Even though they received a lot of pushback from administration, they eventually fixed the cistern in Mandel that helps to water the rooftop garden on top of Gerstenzang.

Both presidents are aiming to continue the momentum from previous years and expand the talks of sustainability on campus. “I want to have more initiatives on campus, more off-campus service and on-campus projects to get people interested and in the spirit of sustainability,” said Goodsynder. Edelman hopes to make the club more visible and stop answering the question, “What is SEA?”

“I want to increase visibility of the club because the better known we are, the more people join, the more activities we can plan, the more change we can create,” said Edelman.

SEA meets weekly on Mondays at 8 pm in Olin-Sang 124.

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