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Knox Sustainability Efforts Win National Attention

Two individuals crouching near the ground and working with green plants at the Knox Farm

Knox College’s sustainability efforts make a difference on campus, and they’ve also received national recognition from The Princeton Review and the Sierra Club.

The Princeton Review selected Knox as one of 422 “Green Colleges” in its 2022 edition of the Guide to Green Colleges. According to the Review, selection is based on “how well a school is preparing students for employment in the clean-energy economy of the 21st century as well as for citizenship in a world now defined by environmental concerns and opportunities.” At Knox, this is evidenced by the regular supply of resources that encourage environmental progress on campus to the Student Senate, environmental studies majors, and other sustainability groups.

Knox’s sustainability endeavors are also recognized in the Sierra Club’s most recent “Cool School” list. This is the 12th consecutive year that Knox has been ranked on this list since its introduction.

Knox has a long history of sustainability initiatives. For instance, KARES, Knox’s first environmental group, promoted the need for environmental action in 1996 through the creation of work-study jobs and reusable food containers in the cafeteria. 

That tradition of caring about Earth, the environment, and sustainability continues to this day, as groups such as Students for Sustainability and EcoHouse, along with the Office of Sustainability, promote efforts to make the campus more environmentally conscious. Various campus events are planned in connection with Earth Month 2022, for instance. 

“I think this organization [Students for Sustainability] is a super important presence to have on campus because sustainability—and environmental issues in general—is something that affects everyone, at every level of the community,” said club president Alyssa Stringer ’24, who is majoring in biology and Asian studies. “We have done work at the national level, especially around elections, by campaigning for candidates with green policies—but even just within Galesburg and Knox there is always a lot of work being done in regards to sustainability.” 

One example of those local efforts involves diverting campus food waste and compostable material from landfills. For the past two-and-a-half years, Knox has worked with Peoria-area companies Better Earth Logistics and Better Earth Compost on this initiative. In 2021, it resulted in keeping more than 56,000 pounds of waste out of landfills, said Tina Hope, director of campus sustainability initiatives and manager of the Knox Farm. In addition, 18 cubic yards of finished compost from Better Earth were applied at the Knox Farm between 2020 and 2021.

“The Knox Farm teaches students about how to sustainably produce food and the coinciding effects that food production has on community systems. We learn how to develop a relationship with the land, how to really take care of it and nurture it so that it nurtures us,” said farm volunteer Faeryn Swift ’22, who is majoring in environmental science. Swift also said that beyond the Knox Farm, Knox provides students with multiple other opportunities to engage in sustainability, including the Knox College Bike Shop (where you can rent bikes and bike locks, or have your bike fixed for free) and the Share Shop (a one-stop-shop and drop-off site for donated items).

The Knox Farm offers students many opportunities to implement sustainability initiatives on campus. By focusing on incorporating more regenerative agricultural practices, the Farm produces about 2,000 pounds a year of organic vegetables, fruits, and herbs for Hard Knox Cafe, student volunteers, and the Knox community. 

Swift said, “Our campus has incredible guides for sustainability, people who are deeply invested in the importance of its action. They have tapped into, and continue to stoke the passions of a student body who, through their guidance, find an outlet for their concerns and ideas.” 

Stringer made a similar observation, saying, “All in all, I think Knox really does such a great job in terms of sustainability because there is a whole team of passionate people behind every single initiative. We are a student body that really cares a lot, and that shows through things like sustainability.”

Learn more about sustainability at Knox. 

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Printed on Friday, May 20, 2022