As first-year students, Nicole Rajtak ’22, Olivia Gray ’22, and Logan Davis ’22, attended EarthX 2019, an annual conference that focuses, each year, on a unique aspect of environmentalism. In 2019, the three-day event focused on water usage. Attending the conference allowed the students to make meaning of their academic experiences, as they built upon the knowledge they had already gained in their class, Introduction to Environmental Studies, here at Southwestern. 

The conference granted them the opportunity to go beyond the classroom, applying what they had learned at Southwestern to real-world experiences. The experience even allowed them to “notice some of the underlying issues with the convention” such as companies “greenwashing” themselves by inaccurately presenting as eco-friendly or promoting products that may seem sustainable at first glance but fall short in the long run, such as TetraPak.

Of course, the convention was not entirely problematic. Nicole writes, “While we had come at it with a highly critical eye, the vast majority of the companies we spoke to seemed legitimate and genuinely dedicated to the bettering of the planet. I’m finishing this [reflection] feeling hopeful for the future.”

Quotations and takeaways were pulled from the group’s online blog which is available here along with photos and introductions: