The Eco Reps Champion Sustainability

By John Crawford

The Zero Waste Challenge, which spurred participants to produce as little waste as possible for a week, made for an odd sight. Wherever they went, students carried ziplock bags that served as portable wastebaskets. If they produced trash that wasn’t recyclable, they placed it in the bag.

About 60 people made it through the challenge, and when all their little bags of trash were combined, everything fit in just one large garbage bag. “This goes to show that everyone can produce very little waste if they watch what they consume,” says Philippe Topdjian ’14. He is a coordinator of the Eco Reps, peer-to-peer student educators who organized the challenge.

The Eco Reps’ mission is to raise awareness and change behavior in regard to sustainability. Students go through an application process to become an Eco Rep, which is a paid position, and then attend 12 hours of training. They learn how to communicate effectively so they don’t sound preachy when delivering their sustainability message. “Our goal is to be good mentors and examples,” says Dallase Scott, Babson’s sustainability program manager, who oversees the Eco Reps.

Other Eco Reps initiatives have included The Unplugged Competition, in which the Reps encouraged students to turn off appliances before leaving for winter break, and Recyclemania, where the Reps, wearing sports jerseys and painted faces, cheered whenever someone recycled at Reynolds.

Their biggest project was creating a sustainability course for First-Year Seminar, a weekly class designed to ease first-year students into Babson life. The new course details the sustainable measures that students can take in their lives, and Reps created all its materials, including a teacher’s guide, workbook, video, case study, and quiz.

The course was rolled out this fall. “We want Babson students to become progressive leaders who recognize that environmental sustainability is not just a value set,” says Shoney Yakubjanov ’12, another Eco Reps coordinator, “but also an integral part of modern innovation and a newly rising corporate standard.”