In June, seven Turkish students from Bogaziçi University and Özyegin University arrived in the United States after winning the Koç University Go Green Competition. Their prize was an invitation to the University of Chicago and Indiana University to spend time with representatives from each university’s sustainability office. On June 25, our IU Office of Sustainability’s staff and intern team kicked off an intensive two day itinerary that showcased various types of sustainability work being done on and off campus.
On day one, we started at the Campus Garden, located next door to IU’s Hilltop Garden. We talked about the produce currently growing at the garden and the effort that went into making sure the produce was grown sustainably. We also discussed the process of composting and how some of the waste from campus goes into the garden’s compost piles. We shared with the Turkish students how local food benefits people on and off IU’s campus, making reference to our Big Red Eats Green event and to the Bloomington Farmers’ Market.
After finishing at the garden, we went to the IU Steam Plant, where we took a guided tour of the plant and learned about different kinds of fuels that the university uses in order to heat its buildings.
After lunch, we drove past the iconic B-Line on the way to the Hoosier to Hoosier warehouse, where gently used dorm items are stored in preparation for resale to incoming IU students. By collecting these unwanted items and reselling them, the Hoosier to Hoosier event encourages a cycle of reuse and limits the number of items that would normally end up in landfills.
While leaving the Warehouse, we told the Turkish students about Bloomington’s bike culture and how the Transportation Working Group was working to improve conditions for biking students. We also took a brief walk through Dunn Woods, discussed the office’s Tree Inventory Project and learned how the campus is working on combating the effects of emerald ash borer.
On day two, we went to Hoosier National Forest for hikes through the Charles Deam Wilderness area. The forest rangers who led the hikes discussed the different types of wildlife living in the forest, as well as the invasive species that had started growing there over time. The entire visit was full of learning and fun, culminating with a climb up a fire tower with views out over miles of protected forest.
That evening, we went to Mother Bear’s Pizza for the Turkish students’ last dinner in town. It was a relaxed time to share stories from different cultures and to enjoy a Bloomington staple.
Sustainability is a multifaceted topic, and sustainable practices can have positive effects on a number of social and environmental levels. It’s important that ideas about sustainability are shared, but even more so that the sustainability community supports its different branches. Having the Turkish students visit IU was an absolute blast, but it was also an example of how the sustainability community can come together to share what it works towards collectively: a brighter and safer future.