Sustainable U

Now in its fourth year on the University of Miami campus, Sustainable U is this semester changing its culture to better promote a universal sustainable culture and raise awareness of the environment in everyday life.

Unlike many traditional student organizations, Sustainable U will spend almost no time in meetings this year, channeling its members’ efforts and time into student activism and change.

Rebecca Ressl, joined the organization last year and saw room for improvement. She is now the group’s president.

“I thought about what I would like in a club,” Ressl said.

Tired of non-productive and redundant meetings, Ressl decided the meetings would be the first things to go.

Instead of simply coming together in a “windowless room” to discuss the environment, Ressl envisioned a more active approach. As opportunities for action arise this year, the club will send e-mail messages to members, explaining upcoming hands-on events and activities that focus on finding the nature lover in everyone.

Dr. Pamela Reid, an associate professor in marine geology and geophysics and faculty adviser to Sustainable U, thinks that this new approach will inspire more students.

“The activities are more conducive to student involvement,” Reid said.

In an effort to represent different avenues of sustainability, the student organization will explore sustainable fashion designing, take part in Biscayne Bay restoration efforts, plan beach clean-ups and work with an organization called Everglades Outpost to help with animals that have been injured or harmed.

“We want to have enough activities that if someone wants to attend the beach clean-up one weekend, but won’t be able to do the activity the next weekend, that is ok,” Sustainable U secretary, Caitlin Linston, wrote in an emailed message.

The club hopes to expand its membership, but will focus on committed members who want to be active, even if they can’t attend every event.

Last month the group held a bake sale to promote sustainable awareness and stimulate interest. She hopes that the club’s new approach will make a difference in attracting more students to participate

“Examples of sustainability are better than empty words,’ Linston said. “By showing the students how they can be sustainable, we can then bring sustainability to the students, the university, and the local community. “Sustainable U meetings are scheduled for the end of each month in the Cox Science center lobby. For more information, e-mail