Bowdoin Celebrates Eco Service Day

Story posted April 25, 2013

Eco Service Day is similar to Common Good Day—the behemoth volunteer effort championed by the McKeen Center. Of course, our volunteer day is smaller and solely focuses on environmental organizations, farms, and municipal recreation departments. Many of the students who volunteer are environmental studies majors, are eco reps, or are involved with the Food Coop or Organic Garden. Oftentimes, though, the allure of a free tee shirt brings together a diverse array of student volunteers who then spend the day chatting over cleaning eggs or sharing song preferences while digging fence postholes.

In Lisbon, at the Maine Building Materials Exchange, students bonded over stacking tiles, balusters, and random stairwell pieces. MBME works with low- and middle-income families to offer homeowners discounted prices on building goods (doors, windows, paint, flooring, etc.). Led by Dave Zimmerman, MBME has both a social and environmental mission—the majority of goods sold in their warehouse would have otherwise been disposed of, despite the fact that 95% of supplies are new.

Bridgett McCoy ’15, one of the volunteers, found the work rewarding. “In our short time, we were able to make radical changes in the inventory and organization of the warehouse.” Moreover, the “Eye of the Tiger” playlist made the work more like an ‘80s aerobics class. Said McCoy, “[It was] a great quads and glutes workout! The most fun I've ever had lifting heavy things.”

Further down the Androscoggin River, a Bowdoin group helped clear trails and clean up the ecology center at the Cathance River Education Alliance (CREA) in Topsham. CREA formed when a large-scale development and a community group struck a deal to preserve 235 acres along the Cathance River. Since 2000, CREA has offered ecology education to Midcoast Maine based out of their ecology center. Jessie Turner ’13, took away an important lesson for life after Bowdoin: “housing developments and nature preserves can coexist…they don’t have to be mutually exclusive.”

For the second year, Bowdoin students also volunteered at the Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust Tom Settlemire Community Garden. A nascent community garden (but one that already has a waitlist!), the long to do list kept everyone busy. And there were a lot of busy people helping. “I was completely impressed by how many community members turned out on a rainy Saturday morning to get the garden underway for the growing season. There was definitely a sense of neighbor helping's hard to believe that this is only the garden's second year in operation,” said Sierra Frisbie ’15.  Frisbie captured the essense of Eco Service Day when she said, “Everyone was so welcoming and appreciative of our help. What a great way to come together with the Brunswick community...over fresh, local food and a little bit of hard work.”

For more images from Eco Service Day, visit the Bowdoin Daily Sun article.