Author: Sydney Hughes
Last week, two of Hope College’s sustainability organizations, Green Hope and the Gardening Club, hosted a “Plant-A-Pot” event in the Bultman Student Center to garner support for sustainability on Hope’s campus—creating a space for students and organization members to interact and enjoy an evening of crafts and conversation. Part of the BSC’s weekly “Something Every Tuesday,” this event helped the organizations gain exposure, informing the broader student population of their presence on campus.
This was one of the organizations’ most successful events in the ongoing semester! Enthused students were encouraged to grab plants and pots provided by the hosting clubs, planting them and embellishing them with colorful painted designs.
One of Green Hope’s co-presidents, Olivia Krenek (’26), claimed that the organization’s primary goal in planning this event was to establish “more environmentally friendly choices on campus.” Planting succulents is a fun and accessible way for students to do this and facilitates involvement more with sustainability groups on campus.
Krenek mentioned that Green Hope’s largest event is their biannually held “thrift shop” in collaboration with Hope Advocates for Sustainability (HAS). “Last year we had a line of people waiting to come in,” Krenek attested to the event’s popularity amongst Hope students.
Each semester, HAS organizes this event alongside other groups such as Green Hope in order to prevent clothing waste within the institution and to acknowledge the ways in which the everyday individual can make more sustainable choices.
“Over the course of one evening everything is usually sold for about a dollar,” Krenek described. This event is profitable in more ways than one: it allows students to give our clothing another life—instead of it being sent straight to the landfill—and offers remarkably affordable prices. Additionally, as Krenek made known, “All of the funds go back towards sustainability efforts on campus.”
While the aforementioned event is huge among Hope’s community, Green Hope also plans smaller, community oriented activities for its group members—some of them simply being taking a hike to get to know its new members. To get the group off campus, they recently hiked at Saugatuck State Park.
Through our participation in Hope’s sustainability groups’ events, not only do we advocate for a greener campus and community—we offer them the support they need to make change in both of these settings. In fact, HAS’s efforts prove that many pairs of hands are needed to make effective and permanent change.
“We’re actually working with HAS right now on the art project that they’re doing in collaboration with the Kruizenga museum,” Krenek explained.
Another large event HAS is in the midst of planning is the “Found Art” project, which is to be featured as a mural installation in the Kruizenga Art Museum. The installation will consist of found materials; trash and plastics recycled and repurposed into something meaningful. This project serves doubly as a way to clean up the community’s spaces—beaches and parks—and to visually stimulate its viewers, conveying a powerful message of the severity of the crisis we currently face in regards to the environment.
“It’s really hard [for college students] a lot of times to live sustainably,” Krenek acknowledged. Though making systemic change is impossible for the individual, the small changes we can make in our everyday lives are more effective than we realize. Simply donating clothes or buying second hand makes a larger than perceived difference in the consumption-waste cycle.
The struggle to live sustainably is a tough issue to tackle, its solution unfathomable considering the environment’s current predicament. Though planting and painting a potted succulent may seem trivial in the grand scope of environmental activism, these small actions are the first step in spreading awareness and making other sustainable choices.
Photo credit: Nico Kazlauskas