November 3, 2017 at 3:35 pm

Ecohouse Students Tackle Environmental Problems with Lifestyle Choices, Leadership

A view of the Ecohouse from Dairy Lane, including a bicycle parked out front.

A view of the Ecohouse from Dairy Lane. Photo courtesy of The Post.

By Kaitlin Kulich

Just a short walk from Ohio University’s campus, down a brick road on Dairy Lane is the Ohio University Ecohouse. Not only is it equipped with its own solar panels, compost system and garden, the Ecohouse is home to three OHIO students who are tackling our planet’s environmental problems the best way they know how—by starting with their own lifestyle choices.

Every school year a new set of students live in the Ecohouse and are enrolled in a weekly seminar where they have discussions about about sustainability and environmental leadership.

The Ecohouse residents are already learning some valuable sustainability skills.

“It’s really not that hard, I mean I think it’s a lot easier than people expect it to be,” says Lynn McKnight, one of the residents at the Ecohouse. She’s referring to composting and how, for her, it’s been an easy task to take on since living at the EcoHouse. McKnight is collecting food scraps to take out to the compost bin. She’s helping Meg Little, another resident who also coordinates the events at the Ecohouse, make homemade vegan and vegetarian pizzas for the guests they are expecting for a potluck. After dinner Little and McKnight plan to hold a sustainable cosmetics workshop where their guests will make their own lipstick and eye liner.

“It’s a powerful political statement to make your own goods because you’re withholding your money from environmentally irresponsible companies,” says Little as she explains why they decided to make lipstick.

Along with the cosmetics workshop, other workshops have taken place at the Ecohouse this semester. A workshop on how to make environmentally friendly soap, fire cider (a potent immune booster), and sustainable fall decorations, where autumn wreaths were made from vines and berries harvested from the Ridges, also have been held at the Ecohouse.

The next big event at the Ecohouse will be the “Sustainable Thanksgiving,” where local vegetarian and vegan dishes will be served, traditional thanksgiving tales told, and eco-friendly party gifts given to all who attend the event. The dinner is Nov. 9, from 6 to 9 p.m. Anyone interested in attending should email  to reserve a spot. Reservations will be first-come, first-served; there are 40 available spots. People who sign up will receive a Google form. Students attending the Sustainable Thanksgiving dinner aren’t required to bring a dish, but anyone who wants to contribute to the optional potluck is welcome to bring something.

McKnight believes more Athens community members know about the Ecohouse than Ohio University students, but says the workshops are providing a way to connect more with the university and teach students easy ways they can become more environmentally sustainable.

“We are branching out more and more as we do these workshops. I think if we continue with them people will start to know us and more people will come,” says McKnight. “They’re just really fun and I think people enjoy them.”

Little and McKnight say the workshops are the best way to not only allow students and community members to connect with one another, but to show them that living sustainably is easier and more fun than they might have thought. Both women have a goal for anyone who visits the Ecohouse: to leave with a brand-new set of skills that will allow them to incorporate sustainable living practices in many aspects of their lives.


About the Sustainability Studies Theme

Sustainability Studies integrates knowledge from many diverse disciplines to explore the complexity of global sustainability issues. Sustainability Studies asks students to think critically about the economic, social, political, cultural and scientific assumptions about humans’ relationships to the environment. Sustainability Studies invites critical exploration of a multitude of complex issues from the local to the global levels by engaging students in visionary conversation and collaborative, real-world problem solving. Sustainability Studies also invites students to explore their own personal values, and envision a meaningful, sustainable future. Sustainability Studies is a strong complement to a wide variety of majors, minors and certificates in Arts & Sciences as well as across Ohio University.

Climate Scientist Michael Mann Comes to Ohio University March 28

Dr. Michael E. Mann is a Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State University and the director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center. Among his many honors, in June 2017, he received the seventh annual Stephen H. Schneider Award for Outstanding Climate Science Communications from Climate One at the Commonwealth Club. Mann was one of the authors of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Mann will be giving a public lecture on March 28, 2018, in the Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium.


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