UNCW hosts most sustainable Homecoming in university’s history

Caroline Straubel, Culture Editor

UNCW’s Homecoming week of Feb. 7 to 13, 2022 is the most sustainable in the university’s history. This year’s homecoming features green initiatives with solar panel phone charging stations, solar umbrellas, composting bins at events and rain gardens to promote a more environmentally conscious campus.

The alumni events this week are ranked on the highest level of sustainability by the Office of Sustainability, the Gold Talon. This signifies that the event has taken steps towards meaningful acts of sustainability by supporting local businesses, and promoting sustainable practices in the community and among event attendees. This ranking system is used to further the UNC system’s goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

UNCW Chief Sustainability Officer Kat Pohlman explained the significance of the university’s environmental practices on alumni attending the events. “A big part of the Gold Talon event is educating others about what you are doing. Making sure participants know [the host] is taking steps to be sustainable and encouraging other people to do the same. If you can inspire all of our alumni to also take these small steps, you’re making a bigger impact than just having the event.”

The archway by Leutze and Morton on campus. Also a key spot in the heart of campus. (Kaylin Damico)

These sustainable efforts will work towards supporting the community on and off UNCW’s campus. For each point scored by the men’s and women’s basketball teams in their homecoming games on Friday, Feb. 11, Saturday, Feb. 12 and Sunday, Feb. 13 the Office of Sustainability and Center for Marine Science to purchase one plug of marsh grass.

“Other schools have done trees before, but why not marsh grass? Between the greenhouse gas effect and the resiliency aspect we realized that was the direction we wanted to take,” said Pohlman.

The location where these marsh grasses will be planted has yet to be announced, but those interested in volunteering are encouraged to check the social media accounts of the Office of Sustainability for updates.

Peer educators from the Office of Sustainability will be present at the alumni champagne brunch on Saturday, Feb. 10 to discuss the future of sustainability at the university. One event that the educators will focus on promoting is the closet clean-out at the end of the semester.

Students on Chancellor’s Walk on their way to class. (Lilianne Hougsten)

This event is a collaboration between the Office of Sustainability, Catholic Campus Ministry, Housing and Residential Life and the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement. These on-campus organizations work together to “put pods out so that students can donate their things and then we find specifically find organizations to donate them to. So, we’re reducing waste, saving money and helping the community,” according to Pohlman.

Pohlman described the impact the Office of Sustainability hopes this week will have upon alumni. “Take away the things that you learn at the university, now we have composting at Wagnor dining hall and it’s a zero-waste facility and rain gardens on campus. [Alumni] should

just not leave all of these things at school, but incorporate it into your daily lives, and if possible, we could use some extra funds to help these initiatives.”

The 2022 Homecoming showcases UNCW’s commitment to sustainable events. For people interested in developing more environmentally conscious practices, consider signing the UNCW sustainability pledge.