|Inspire’s Environmental Club tours the Plastics Lab at Chico State and attends a discussion with environmentalist author Britt Wray.
Environmental Club is always looking for new ways to work with the broader Chico community in order to bring novel ideas about climate activism, sustainability, and engineering to Inspire. During lunch on Thursday, October 13th, in an event organized by Emily C. (9), they brought a group of students to Chico State to tour its innovative Plastics Lab. The same evening, a number of students attended a discussion with Britt Wray– creator of the “Gen Dread” newsletter and author of the award-winning book Generation Dread– also hosted at Chico State.
Environmental Club uses machines obtained from The Precious Plastics project, a Netherlands-based open hardware recycling initiative, to run their own Precious Plastics Project on campus. These machines include a plastic shredder and an injector, which melts shredded plastic and injects it into molds, forming various useful objects like combs and carabiners. The CSU Plastics Lab has its own injector, which functions similarly to the Precious Plastics machine, except on an industrial scale. Students at the Plastics Lab also shared how they’re able to 3D print using semi-biodegradable plastics, which are synthesized in-house. Using another machine, they demonstrated how they draw the plastic into a 3D filament. Environmental Club is currently looking into obtaining its own Precious Plastics extruder, which would allow them to do the same thing with recycled plastic materials. The similarities between the missions of Inspire and CSU students made for a deeply compelling, informative field trip.
In the evening, Environmental Club members listened to CSU professor Mark Stamon’s interview with award-winning author Britt Wray. Wray’s work centers on the psychological impact of the climate crisis, especially as it pertains to younger generations. Her “Gen Dread” newsletter addresses the weight young people carry in the face of ecological destruction, and her book Generation Dread builds on those same ideas. According to data obtained through her study “Climate Anxiety in Children and Young People,” published in the Lancet in 2021, 40% of youth surveyed in 10 countries reported impaired daily function due to climate anxiety. We see this enlightening statistic reflected amongst our own student body. Our community suffers from collective traumas related to climate disasters, including the 2018 Camp Fire and 2017 Oroville Dam spillway collapse. In her discussion with Professor Stamon, who mentioned these harrowing events as examples of how climate change has affected northern California, she highlighted the importance of social connection in fostering resilience. At Chico State, students are invited to participate in weekly “Climate Cafés,” where they’re encouraged to share their concerns, feelings, and sympathies without judgment or calls to action. Environmental Club is looking to bring a similar space to Inspire in order to promote both awareness and healing in regard to the climate crisis among our student body.
Part of the Environmental Club’s mission is to provide a way for students to network with environmentalist projects outside of Inspire. If you’re interested in participating in future events like the ones mentioned in this article, Environmental Club meets every Thursday, during lunch. They hope to see you there!