Representatives from Live Green UMich recently had the opportunity to sit down with Sonia Lee, the Environment Committee Chair of Circle K at the University of Michigan.
Per Sonia, Circle K is “a service organization composed of multiple committees” which connects its members to service opportunities through partnerships with initiatives and organizations that span a variety of disciplines within and beyond the University the Michigan. Circle K is currently the largest volunteer organization on campus with its approximately 200 members.
The Environment Committee focuses on projects that “better the environment and promote sustainability initiatives.” For example, they have previously participated in Nichols Arboretum or Matthaei Botanical Gardens workdays, partnered with Campus Farm, and connected students to nature area preservation and Give 365 opportunities pertaining to environmental stewardship around Ann Arbor. During the winter semester, the Environment Committee hosts NatureThon–an event through which Circle K gets its members involved in sustainability and conservation based projects with a prize incentive for whomever completes the most overall project-working hours by NatureThon’s conclusion.
For Sonia, being involved in the Environment Committee was not necessarily something that she sought out, but rather something that she fell into. Sustainability and the environment are two things that Sonia has “always cared about,” but also something that she “wanted to learn more about” through her role in Circle K; her experience performing trail maintenance and conservation work for a Virginia state park (through Alternative Spring Break) piqued this interest.
Personally, Sonia would like to see more sustainability-education based initiatives come to fruition. She thinks that “a lot of the time, people don’t realize how much waste they’re producing...or they just don’t know that what they’re doing can be so detrimental to the environment. Especially if we’re talking about college students” who are on tight budgets and often preoccupied with schoolwork.
She astutely recognizes that “a lot of people just don’t know” how they can contribute to mitigating the sustainability issue, and, although “most people care to a certain extent [about it], people don’t often like changing their lifestyles” even if its means “benefiting the environment.” Additionally, they are prone to feeling “annoyed at other people who are too forceful” with regard to pushing environmental and/or sustainability initiatives.
Sonia hopes to play a role in addressing these issues by carefully selecting sustainability-education based projects and initiatives with whom to partner. She hopes that people will reframe their current mindset and recognize that “everybody can do a little bit for the environment,”–this responsibility should not fall only to PiTE majors. She plans to turn to Campus Farm for insight, as they do a “really good job with engaging and educating people.” Through their programs, “you can get right in on the action, and that’s exciting.”
Interested in learning more about Circle K? Check out their website.