USC environmental groups are on right track

(Arielle Chan | Daily Trojan)

The Daily Trojan published an article titled, “Los Angeles must strengthen its environmental goals,” last semester, arguing that L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti had fallen short in their environmental efforts. According to the report card issued by the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at UCLA, it becomes clear that L.A. suffers from a stutter in the form of “C…C…C,” meaning the City of Angels received an overall grade of “C” in almost every category. 

The article goes on to state USC’s environmental efforts and describe the University’s Sustainability 2020 Plan. While many may look to the government and school administration in forwarding sustainability efforts, it is ultimately the student-run environmental organizations that truly show the work and sincerity of those behind the environmental movement. 

Today, many students actively participate in the modern environmental movement, yet one always wonders if those who march in the climate strikes really do understand the full spectrum of problems concerning sustainability. The best way for students to understand the issues they march in defiance for is to learn from other students through dialogue. USC’s Environmental Student Assembly understands this concept. 

ESA has made its agenda clear by supporting the transit subsidy that offers 50% off public transit expenses for USC staff and faculty early on, allowing them to ditch their cars. Additionally, ESA organized the climate strike at USC which was “nine times more attended than the previous demonstration because of a revamped public awareness campaign.” ESA contends that, in meetings with administration officials, the strike is constantly referenced as evidence of unprecedented student interest in making the University more eco-friendly. 

The camaraderie between the student-run environmental organizations at USC is admirable and evident in how they uplift each other’s mutual sustainability goals. Environmental clubs are not afraid to brag about each other’s achievements just as the ESA did about Bloom Boutique, a student run organization that aims to take on the issue of fast fashion. 

Fast fashion, or the production of cheap quality clothes at a cheap price, is an unsustainable way of shopping and creating textiles, as the clothes are designed to last only one season, made of material that depletes the Earth’s resources and are then disposed of in a non-sustainable fashion. The clothes are made in sweatshops, which primarily hire women laborers who are underpaid and mistreated. 

Bloom Boutique aims to provide an affordable and sustainable alternative to fast fashion by selling thrift-shop clothes while giving its proceeds to local shelters. Clubs such as Bloom Boutique wish to change the clothing habits of college students who wear clothes from outlets that may not be sustainable. Outlets, such as Zara and Asos, have been notoriously known to have unsustainable materials in their clothing products. 

Clover is another club attributing to the Green Movement. It aims to improve the sustainability of student diets by advocating for more plant-based eating. During Fall 2019, Clover and ESA held the first vegan tailgate before the Oregon football game, giving out more than 200 beyond burgers with much acclaim for the taste and its vegan authenticity. 

The biggest environmental club effort for the upcoming spring semester is to advocate for the University to “disclose, divest, and reinvest its endowment holdings in the fossil fuel industry.” ESA will also work on reducing meat consumption in dining halls, increasing recycling and integrating sustainability education in the General Education curriculum. It plans to hold another climate strike Jan. 27 focused on fossil fuel divestment.

One may wonder if other environmental clubs at major universities in L.A. feel the same way in spreading their message. In asking for UCLA’s Student Wellness Commission Environmental Awareness, Recycling, and Terrestrial Health club to comment about their efforts to include students, the club declined to comment for this article on their sustainability efforts. These attitudes contradict the overall goal of the green movement. If the goal of sustainability clubs is to spread awareness, then SWC EARTH has massively failed. 

Their response is, at its ideological base, hypocritical and, at its leadership level, lazy and immature. It is important for USC environmental clubs to take note of SWC Earth’s hypocrisy so that ESA, Clover, Bloom Boutique and others do not fall into the morass of mediocrity nor flounder in the arbitrary ways of hedonism. Taking all this into account, one can easily see that the green clubs of USC are the gold standard of environmental clubs in the immediate L.A. area and are sincerely dedicated to their mission to add green to the red and gold of USC.