Panel brings suits, Birkenstocks together

In a Friday panel organized by student groups Environmental Consciousness Outreach (ECO) and Young Entrepreneurs at Tufts (YET), guest speakers discussed a variety of issues related to their favorite color: green.

According to event co-organizer and ECO member junior Elizabeth Oo, the event, titled ‘Green-to-Green,’ sought to bridge the gap between the environmental and entrepreneurial arenas.

The panel combined the two different fields of business and environmental consciousness.

“[The two areas] don’t have to be mutually exclusive,” Oo said.

The panel also showcased a perspective of business and investment coalitions within the context of the environment and environmental concerns.

“We wanted to show students that business doesn’t have to trample everything in its path,” co-organizer and YET member sophomore Matt Fiorello said.

Speakers included representatives from three environmentally sustainable businesses, including compost manufacturer Terracycle, Toyota and Green Mountain Coffee. The Toyota representatives brought a Prius hybrid-style vehicle, which was driven around campus before the panel.

The investment coalitions were represented by Rachel Herald from Ceres and Mark Orrowski from the Responsible Endowments Coalition. The coalition representatives discussed the movement to leverage capital to keep businesses socially practical in an attempt to practice more socially responsible investing.

The panel occurred at an opportune time for ECO members, who are currently campaigning for Tufts to invest part of its endowment toward environmentally and socially responsible ends. Most recently, the organization has pushed for the utilization of renewable power at Tufts.

According to ECO member sophomore Adi Nochur, the Tufts administration does not publicly disclose the investment of its endowment. “Is our money going towards fossil fuel companies?” he asked.

“I’ve been in contact with the Tufts Chief Investment Officer,” Nochur said. “We want the University to set up a ‘Shareholder Advisory Committee’ to advise the Board of Trustees on investments. We’re not calling for divestment – we want Tufts to use our shareholder power to go in an environmental direction,” he said. “It just makes sense.”

The panel, which was held in the Crane Room and was incorporated as a part of Earthfest week, attracted approximately 20 attendees. Earthfest, which was co-sponsored by ECO and Water Watch, included a student carnival, a recycled material fashion show, a showing of “Finding Nemo,” and Saturday’s Mystic River super-cleanup.

“It was a surprisingly good number for a beautiful Friday afternoon,” Oo said.