The leaders of LMU’s Environmentally Conscious and Organized (ECO) Students club, senior psychology major Taleene Armen, sophomore environmental science major Emilee Smith and sophomore environmental studies major Alice Tiffany, sat down with the Loyolan to answer questions about the club.
Madison Chang (MC): What is the ECO Students club’s mission?
Taleene Armen (TA): It’s a collective of students who want to raise awareness about environmental issues today, and want to make an impact on and off campus [for] a variety of different issues. It’s really just a space for students to come together and talk about these issues, and learn how to be activists in their community and how to create change in different ways, either by a petition or doing something online.
Emilee Smith (ES): We don’t have one specific mission. It it changes over time with who’s in the club and what issues are relevant at the time.
MC: What has the club been doing recently for environmentalism?
ES: Tar sands are an environmentally and socially harmful way to extract oil, and LMU invests in funds that fund companies that participate in this extraction, and so that’s how we’re tied into it. We’ve been doing research on the effects of tar sands to prove that it actually is harmful to the environment and to the people that live near the sites, so that we can try to persuade the school to take their money out of the funds.
Alice Tiffany (AT): So we wrote the proposal, and then started a student petition, as well as a faculty and staff petition. We presented our proposal to the Responsible Investment Advisory Committee (RIAC) which is a new committee that advises the Board of Trustees on how to invest LMU’s endowment. We’re waiting to hear back from them on next steps.
TA: Before that, we were working in the garden, trying to get fresh produce into the food pantry. We do little things that are on campus, and then we broadened it to investments and larger companies affiliated with LMU.
MC: How can students be environmentally friendly in everyday life?
ES: The biggest thing is thinking about what you’re spending your money on, because a lot of times, there’s a lot of indirect things that you don’t realize, like buying everything that’s fully packaged or wrapped rather than if you can go to the farmer’s market and get things that are fresh and not in packages. It all really adds up if you don’t think about what you’re spending your money on.
AT: Along those lines, be conscious of your actions and how they affect the environment, like buying food with less packaging or organic or local food. There’s the cliché ones, like taking shorter showers, being conscious of how you’re washing the dishes, turning off the lights, all those little things. Also, educate yourself on the bigger issues because a lot of the environmental responsibility is passed on to the consumers who should be aware of the effects. Balance between the consumer responsibility and also putting pressure on corporations, and make small commitments to everyday life.
TA: Really, just know how much power your money has, and know that those little things are important, like making sure you’re not wasteful while also holding accountable those corporations that we take for granted on a daily basis, like oil companies, or even a bank — what are they invested in?