Sunday, Oct. 10 — or 10/10/10, as it came to be called — saw a profusion of environmental activism under the auspices of 350.org, the campaign to reverse climate change spearheaded by Scholar-in-Residence in Environmental Studies Bill McKibben.
In an effort to catalyze the global reduction of green house gases, McKibben created a “global workday,” in which volunteers from around the world agreed to physically do something that promoted environmentalism.Projects included installing solar panels, riding bikes, planting organic gardens, or picking up trash, and 350.org-organized events took place in locations all around the world.
In Middlebury, the events were lively and varied. The Student Government Association Environmental Affairs Committee aimed to promote the often unseen and unnoticed recycling center.The group, headed by Rachel Callender ’12, gathered numerous bags full of clothes, pillows, shoes and other items and set up a three-hour-long thrift shop on the Proctor terrace. The items comprised handmade scarves, Tommy Hilfiger polos, and even Columbia jackets. Each item, regardless of intact price tags reading upwards of $95, was priced at $1.
“The purpose of the project was to expose students to the reality of wasting that takes place on even one of the most environmentally friendly campuses in the region,” said Callender.
The group successfully sold over 100 items and donated all proceeds to the recycling center.The initiative’s participants expressed great enthusiasm for their project and for the 350.org events in general.
“Being that 350.org is such a relatively new organization, I see a lot of hope and potential for the environment through it in the future,” Callender said.
The Sunday Night Group participated in 10/10/10 as well, traveling door-to-door in the town of Middlebury to create a list of signatures of people who agreed to vote for Patrick Leahy, the incumbent Democratic U.S. senator from Vermont who supports many environmental issues.
McKibben, who is off campus currently, expressed great enthusiasm for the work being done on Oct. 10.
“It meant, ‘game on,’” he wrote in an e-mail. “Far from being discouraged about the failure of the Copenhagen talks and congressional inaction, people were energized — ready to show their leaders how to do what needed doing.”
The 10/10/10 events comprised “the most widespread day of civic engagement in the planet’s history,” McKibben continued. 7,347 events were held in 188 countries, everywhere but North Korea, Equatorial Guinea, and San Marino.
“I think that by itself [10/10/10] accomplished a lot of good in a lot of places,” said McKibben. “But more than that, it is a key step in helping build a movement — the kind of movement we’re going to need to take on the financial power of the fossil fuel industry. This will not be an easy fight, not in any way.”
-By Jake Nonweiler '14