The EcoLeaders Program is a newly launched program for the 2021-2022 school year to promote sustainability and environmental justice within dorms and advising groups. Two or three EcoLeaders are selected per dorm or advising group and are trained to supervise sustainable practices in their dorms and other campus locations by involving other students in sustainability action and education on campus.
According to Allison Guerette, Campus Sustainability Coordinator, the EcoLeaders program was created with the hope of introducing all students to sustainable campus living as well as providing an opportunity for dialogue and action on environmental racism and climate justice.
“Our hope is that EcoLeaders will help us achieve our Climate Action Plan Goals for reduction of greenhouse gases, conservation of water, and creating a zero-waste campus, as well as educate and engage the campus community on issues of climate change, environmental justice, and sustainable development,” wrote Guerette in an email to The Phillipian.
Each month, EcoLeaders will work with house counselors, proctors or prefects, and day student advisors to lead discussions and activities with their dorms or advising groups related to campus sustainability and environmental justice. EcoLeaders will receive monthly training and work together to devise joint solutions to sustainability issues on campus, according to Guerette.
Naima Reid ’25, an EcoLeader in Chase House, expressed her appreciation for the opportunity to actively work towards promoting sustainability within the Andover community. Reid has also been able to envision what her responsibilities throughout the year as an EcoLeader would be.
“Although it’s only been a couple of weeks, I’ve already begun to recognize what being an EcoLeader throughout the year will be like. We’re basically a middle man between students and those leading sustainability efforts on campus. It’s also a responsibility; being an EcoLeader puts you in a position to lead and contribute to sustainability efforts but also gives you the obligation to call out unsustainable practices, which can be inconvenient,” wrote Reid.
Jonathan Ji ’24, an EcoLeader in Fuess House, shared a similar sentiment as Reid and believes that EcoLeaders are the “eyes and ears” in the student body to pass on information. Ji thinks that the program can be successful in influencing student behaviors by effectively utilizing peer pressure.“Peer pressure is a powerful tool. Given enough time, people will change their habits. I think our group is large enough to have some impact, but we will need to wait and see if it really changes behavior,” wrote Ji.
Reid also believes that the program will bring change and succeed in promoting sustainability and achieving its mission and goals.
“I do believe that the program will succeed in promoting sustainability. It’s a ‘grassroots’ approach that I think will have the most impact on students’ daily practices… [The monthly meetings] give us a good amount of tasks and information that we can do and share throughout the month while still updating us with emails and through other clubs led by the sustainability coalition,” wrote Reid.
Suhaila Cotton ’24 found that the program is an effective way to promote sustainability for everyone on the Andover campus. Cotton appreciates how the EcoLeaders in her dorm gave their presentations and believes in the potential of the EcoLeaders program.
“I think it will be in the sense of educating people about easy, daily actions they can take to better respect our spaces and local environment. For my dorm [Nathan Hale House], the EcoLeaders did a great job with their presentation on trash and recycling which was much needed in the dorm and they put up posters telling us how to sort our trash. EcoLeaders is definitely a good way to promote sustainability for both those who are the ones learning and those who are teaching,” said Cotton.