Magazine On-line [spring 2011]
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Around campus

Sustainability House stresses living in community

As a culture of sustainability continues to spread around the Transylvania campus, some students decided to make that culture a lifestyle. They started the campus Sustainability House, committing themselves to living sustainably and in community.

The idea sprung from some members of TERRA, the Transylvania environmental rights club. Ten students got together and decided to get a house where they could practice sustainability together. A house on Upper Street opened up, and they moved in at the beginning of the school year.

Students in the sustainability house
The members of the Sustainability House held a Pie Night to raise awareness about the work the students are doing.

“When we moved into the house, we had to set our own rules for what we wanted to see happen throughout the year,” junior Julia Peckinpaugh said. “There wasn’t a faculty member in charge; this was just a bunch of students trying to figure out what we as a group wanted to do. We decided early on that we were going to try to live as eco-friendly as possible and buy as much local food as we could.”

The group took several measures, including hang-drying clothes, riding bikes around Lexington, rarely using the dishwasher, eating meals together, and using the heat and air conditioning as little as possible. They volunteered cleaning up watersheds around the community and picking up trash, went on nature hikes, and attended a conference on mountaintop removal mining in Washington, D.C. They also created a blog to keep the Transy community up on their efforts, and they organized a party where they baked pies with local ingredients to serve to visitors.

Those activities taught the residents about the benefits of living sustainably and, more importantly, living with others.

“It changed our outlooks on sustainability,” Pekinpaugh said. “We realized as the term went on that sustainability is more than just being eco-friendly and trying to use natural ingredients. It’s a community. It’s depending on and drawing from the community and creating that aspect of sustainability.”

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