SRU’s women’s center & Macoskey Center collaborated Monday as part of their Women in the Environment series, kicking off their second year with a showing of and subsequent discussion surrounding the documentary “From the Waste Up: Life Without Plastic.”
The film focused on one woman’s challenge to go plastic free for a year, and the overall goal was to use it as a starting point for a greater conversation about lessening personal waste, said Erin O’Connor, graduate assistant of the Women’s Center and Pride Center.
“We used it as kind of a way to start a conversation; that was our goal,” O’Connor said. “Realistically, we can’t go plastic free for a year, but what are the things that we can do to lessen our impact on the environment —to lesson our plastic waste?”
O’Connor’s personal role within the project is to lead the discussions that take place after the films. With the help of two other GAs, she works to connect the issues and concepts showcased on screen back to the lives of those who attend and participate in the events.
“My biggest goal with every event we do is making sure no one leaves thinking ‘Okay, well… that was a nice hour and a half,’ and living their lives the exact same way they did when they walked in.” O’Connor said. “My job is helping to bring actionable steps to the event so that students don’t just leave with ‘Okay, I watched a movie. That’s nice. What else?’
Empowering and educating students is the primary goal of both organizations at the head of this series. One of the biggest issues, O’Connor said, was that students were unaware of what changes to make and how to begin making them.
“There are a lot of things that are very accessible for college students to do,” O’Connor explained. “I’m not asking you to do anything drastic like making your own toothpaste or shampoo, but you should think about what kind of easy things you can do that won’t make it feel like you’ve lost anything.”
O’Connor pointed toward the variety of options SRU itself provides. She highlighted the array of filtered water fountains on campus as well as the Macoskey Center’s own farm stand, which appears every Thursday at common hour.
“From the Waste Up” was the first of four films planned for the academic year and as students ponder its lessons, the next film, “Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story,” awaits its Nov. 12 arrival.