Restoring creation: King’s students lead on climate action and education
Since the beginning of September, students, staff, and faculty with a passion for the environment have been meeting remotely to develop projects that advance the cause of creation care. Initiated by Dr. Chris Peet, Professor of Psychology, and Dr. Melanie Hoffman, Science Communication Specialist, King’s Climate Action (KCA) is a group focused on channeling concern for the climate crisis within King’s community into action items.
One of the main projects to come out of this group is the (pre)loved market, a student initiative on Facebook for buying and selling used clothes.
“This is part of a slow fashion initiative where we try to reduce our waste by minimizing how many items of clothing end up in the landfill system,” explains Julia Slomp, a first-year Elementary Education student and organizer for the project.
While the fast-fashion industry produces clothes designed to be disposed of within a couple years, slow-fashion initiatives encourage consumers to buy fewer clothes that will last, and to repurpose, resell, or recycle old clothing.
“The (pre)loved market is our attempt to reduce waste by offering King’s students a space to sell their used clothes, and purchase clothing in a preloved state, rather than something brand new.”
King’s Climate Action group has a number of other projects they hope to implement at King’s in the future. Some of these ideas include a campus-wide waste audit, an expansion of waste management with a greater emphasis on composting, and developing new plastic-free challenges for students to participate in.
“As a group, the KCA is trying our hardest to move anxieties around the climate crisis into ground-level action that students can participate in and spearhead themselves,” Julia notes. “The small community at King’s is such an asset when thinking about how to take restorative action surrounding the climate crisis; we can pilot projects differently than larger institutions, and it allows for deep student engagement. The students at King’s are people who care about how they move through the world. They want to leave it in a better state than they found it.”
Student passion for climate action at King’s has also shined through applied research projects in climate change education and community outreach resource development. Through the King’s Centre for Visualization in Science (KCVS), fourth-year Computing Science student Kalley Lasola worked with Dr. Peter Mahaffy, Professor of Chemistry, to illustrate and help create a children’s book that explores climate solutions and energy sources called Bearly Over the Mountain (available in bookstores, and for free on YouTube). Anna Pattison, a fifth-year Environmental Studies student, has been developing resources for an interactive learning tool on the Planetary Boundaries Framework, which expresses the resilience of the Earth as a system and the ways human activity can cause destabilization.
Luke Greidanus, a fourth-year Chemistry student, worked with Dr. Mahaffy and Dr. Hoffman as part of a KCVS project entitled “Our Future Edmonton”—a resource which helps users envision weather and environmental changes in Edmonton communities over the next decade—to explore effective climate change communication.
“Climate change can be such a polarizing issue,” Luke says. “Learning how to have meaningful conversations about it without immediately shutting people off is really important.”
Based on inter-generational learning and motivational interviewing, Luke helped develop a student-adult climate conversation resource (see “teaching resources”) that allows youth to connect with adults in their life to share personal stories, learn about each other’s values and concerns, and explore opportunities for action.
“Even if King’s was as sustainable as possible, it would not matter if the rest of the city, province, country, and the world were not on board,” Luke observes. “This is an issue that affects all of us. I would like to see King’s do more community outreach with education initiatives.”
The theme for Earth Day 2021 is "Restore Our Earth". If you are a current student who has questions about King’s Climate Action or how to get involved in restoring our earth here at King’s, you can email Julia Slomp. If you tried Luke’s Youth-Adult Climate Conversation activity, you are invited to email him and tell him about your experience.