Sustainability and Bike Fair highlights sustainable habits, student groups
Students organizations, Northeastern committees and groups from Boston gathered in Centennial Common Sept. 27, for the Sustainability and Bike Fair. Organized by the Climate Justice and Sustainability Hub, the goal of the event was to highlight the sustainability movement in the Northeastern community.
The event featured a total of 29 groups, including student clubs such as Sunrise Northeastern and Cruelty-Free Northeastern, as well as university-directed groups like the Social Justice Resource Center.
Several of the groups said they viewed the fair as an opportunity to bring visibility to the individual groups and causes. Alegra Germain, a third-year environmental and sustainability sciences major representing the Northeastern University arboretum, said many students did not know the role the arboretum plays at Northeastern.
“One of our biggest goals is just to increase student awareness and engagement with the Arboretum,” Germain said. “A lot of people don’t actually know that our campus is a certified level-two arboretum … So our biggest goal really today is just to make more students aware that our campus is this really special urban green space.”
According to Germain, Northeastern has met the set criteria for a level two arboretum, including growing 150 different species of trees on campus.
fairAlso featured at the event were several groups unaffiliated with the university who were pushing for more sustainable living measures among students and Boston as a whole.
In an effort to encourage the Northeastern community to ditch cars and turn to more eco-friendly transportations measures, the fair featured two tables advertising eBikes for students to try, as well as a bike repairman and members of the Northeastern University Police Department who could help students register their bikes.
Jim MacLeod, representing fifield eBikes, said he hoped to use the platform the fair gave him to educate students on the impact eBikes can have on sustainability, as well as to receive feedback on how to make eBikes more accessible and attractive to college students.
“I’ll get a lot of education and we will get a lot of feedback,” MacLeod said. “So I won’t have a lot of sales — or maybe any sales — but I’ll educate them and they’ll educate me and we’ll get back and forth. We will help them understand how an eBike will help their day out.”
According to Fifield eBikes, eBikes are a traditional bicycle that is reinforced by an electric motor, allowing the rider to pedal with or without assistance. This decreases the amount of energy required by the motor and eases the pressure placed on the rider.
Other groups, such as Livable Streets Alliance, which works to make roads more pedestrian friendly, were also looking for student support. Abby Jamiel, director of the Emerald Network, said she was hoping students could learn about the Emerald Network and hopefully get involved.
“We’re just hoping to get our name out a little more and connect with students and people who are really excited about this idea,” Jamiel said. “We do consistently have internships or volunteer opportunities, so any way that we can get students involved would be great.”
One student, Diane Grant, a second-year political science and computer science combined major, had been walking back from class when she stopped to learn more about Northeastern’s environmental science and policy master’s program.
Grant said the fair didn’t change any of the beliefs that she already held surrounding sustainability and climate action, but rather allowed her to learn more about what Northeastern and Boston groups were doing to support the cause.
“It’s shown me what the current actions we have going on on-campus that are working towards changes in sustainability, not so much changing my own views,” Grant said.
Jennifer Esfahany, a third-year civil engineering major, said she appreciated the fair for helping students learn more about sustainable ways of living, which can be especially difficult when living on-campus.
“I love this fair because I think it brings a lot of awareness to this kind of stuff on campus, and how students themselves get involved,” Esfahany said. “I think sometimes we feel a little bit trapped in our [sustainability habits] because of the dorm-style living, but I think this shows us how we can still participate in an eco lifestyle.”
Director of Campus Sustainability and Engagement Megan Curtis-Murphy said the event has evolved over the years since it began in 2015. In the past, the fair had put an emphasis on bike-related resources for students, but in more recent years it has transitioned to an overall focus on sustainability.
The event has also grown over the years, Curtis-Murphy said, as the number of groups participating in the event has increased and extended beyond university-affiliated organizations to incorporate groups from Boston as a whole.
“One of the things that the hub is really wanting to do is engage more with our neighbors around sustainability,” Curtis-Murphy said. “So we’ve invited some local organizations who aren’t Northeastern student clubs but [can] bring in that other voice from other areas.”
Curtis-Murphy said she believes tables that the center on climate action garnered the most student engagement at the fair because students are looking for more action on behalf of Northeastern to address concerns such as climate change and justice. This is also what inspired the switch from the traditional bike fair to the current hybrid event, Curtis-Murphy said.
Grant said the Northeastern community had positive intentions when addressing the topic of sustainability, but the university itself still had work to do before it could consider itself sustainable.
“The students are really good at trying to start a conversation, and we have really good students [organizations],” Grant said. “But I think the university definitely has some major strides it can make.”