Bring Your Own Cup: Williams Environmental Council

Charlie Harrison ’18

The Williams Environmental Council (WEC) organized plenty of exciting events and projects this year. We began the fall term with much brainstorming and logistical planning, finally hosting our first major event on October 30th: the Bring Your Own Cup Party (BYOC). Attendees enjoyed live music from student bands, drank local beverages from their own re-usable containers, and snacked on plenty of local cheese and fruit. One week prior to the BYOC event, council members attended Williams’ test-run exercise of MIT Climate Interactive’s En-Roads climate policy simulator. This was a highly engaging event that allowed us to role-play as world leaders and view a refined account of how our policy strategies would effectually play out for the biosphere. Later in the semester, we brought all of the school’s environmental clubs together fBYOCor the year’s first GreenEphs summit. WEC organized several of these meetings throughout the school year, helping to establish better communication and coordination between the various groups and the Center for Environmental Studies.
The heart of winter brought many warm surprises to Williamstown this year, but WEC’s fifth installment of Do It In The Dark Week (February 22nd – 26th) was likely much cooler for those who strongly committed to saving energy. We ran a similar competition to last year, rewarding the residence hall and the house that made the most daily energy reductions throughout the week with a puppy party. In addition, we ran multiple environmentally-focused events in the evenings, including a screening of 2012 environmental documentary “A Fierce Green Fire,” a candle light yoga session, stargazing, and a vegetarian Stressbusters co-hosted by thinkFOOD. The week-long string of events inevitably induced much exhaustion, but several of our group members still made the trip south to Yale’s Environmental Law Conference on February 27th, reporting back that this exciting event could plausibly pique the interest of students in other fields and circles outside the typical environmental sphere. All of these awesome endeavors ultimately led up to WEC’s proudest time of the year: Earth Week. Between April 18th and 22nd, our group hosted a second environmentally-focused Stressbusters event, a second BYOC Party, and a clothing swap event for the benefit of the ABC Clothing Sale. We also organized a “low impact,” locally-sourced meal with Dining Services on Thursday the 21st. Students enjoyed gourmet vegetarian food in all of the dining 12 halls along with maps of New England showing where each food item was sourced. Finally, WEC brought an exciting speaker to campus – Majka Burhardt – to speak about her inspirational conservation work in Mozambique and showcase her newly released film: “Namuli.” WEC also implemented a new recycling service for the school this year through Terra Cycle, an entity that recycles nearly every form of waste sent properly in the mail. Focusing on a single but prominent form of waste, we set up and maintained receptacles for foil-based food wrappers in both the Eco Cafe and Goodrich Coffee Bar where items such as Odwalla Bars are popular. The council successfully collected hundreds of wrappers throughout the school year and sent them all to Terra Cycle after exams in just a single package! That sums up the best of the WEC’s 2015-2016 academic year. Next year we hope to shift focus and work on improving the school’s waste program. We also want to make headway on a tree-planting project that fell backseat to our other endeavors this year. We will likely host some of the same events but give priority to these new goals. Special thanks to everyone who supported the Williams Environmental Council this year! Continue to stay connected through our website: or Facebook page.