April 6, 2021

Focus On: The MSM Environmental Awareness Club

The MSM Environmental Awareness Club seeks to help Manhattan School of Music become a more sustainable and green community.

We spoke with club members Mindy Holthe (BM ’21, French Horn), Maia Schmidt (BM ’21, Violin), Elizabeth Gartman (MM ’21, Composition) , and Julia MacGoy (BM ’22, Musical Theatre) about the organization’s goals and initiatives.

What is your organization? What does it do for the school? What are its goals?

Mindy: Our organization is the Environmental Awareness Club of MSM. We want to help the school become a more “green” and sustainable environment.

Maia: I think the main thing we’re doing right now is building awareness and interest.

Elizabeth: I agree, building awareness, providing education, and working to make MSM more environmentally friendly in the way it runs.

Julia: The two main focuses of our organization are: 1. to educate students and faculty on easy, environmentally conscious habits they can implement in their own lives, and 2. to significantly diminish MSM’s carbon footprint by collaborating with MSM administration. People enjoy being in our club because they want to be a part of the solution to stopping climate change.

MSM's Environmental Awareness Club has hosted several giveaways of plant cuttings in recycled and repurposed containers.

What do you like best about your organization?

Mindy: I like leading the Environmental Awareness Club because I think it’s really important, especially in our climate crisis but also all of the time, that we raise awareness about the environment and what we can do to help it.

Elizabeth: I like that it is a very relevant organization both in and out of MSM.

Maia: I agree with both of you, and I hope the things that we do will stick and will last over the coming years. I’m excited about making environmental awareness and choices fun. I think a lot of people think that it’s extra work or expensive, so I want it to be more accessible to our age group especially.

Julia: I love being in EAC because it is a way to be a part of helping to combat climate change within our immediate community. We get to see the changes we want be implemented in our school.

Tell us about yourselves.

Elizabeth: My pronouns she/her/hers. I’m a second year Master’s student in composition. I like to learn how to be socially and environmentally conscious, both as an artist and a citizen and therefore make my art more relevant to things around me. Climate change is always relevant! I’m also a vegetarian and I really like to cook! I like dogs!

Maia: I’m a senior undergraduate in violin performance, pronouns she/her/hers. I also love dogs!

Mindy: I’m a senior undergraduate horn performance major, pronouns she/her/hers. During quarantine, I started switching up some of my lifestyle choices to become more eco-friendly and I ended up buying a few houseplants to see if I could keep them alive. Now, I’ve grown a mini jungle of over 100 plants… so I guess you could say I really like plants and gardening! I love my 3 cats and I like to craft and make jewelry for my Etsy shop in my free time.

Julia: I’m Julia, and I am a 3rd year musical theatre major. I’ve loved camping and gardening for as long as I can remember, and for the past several years I’ve been implementing more sustainable habits in my life and educating myself and my close friends and family on how we can help protect our planet which we love so dearly. I love political podcasts, the MCU, Debussy, and a good cappuccino and book.

“I’m excited about making environmental awareness and choices fun. I think a lot of people think that it’s extra work or expensive, so I want it to be more accessible to our age group especially.”

What kind of projects or events have you done?

Elizabeth: Right now, we’re becoming more involved in how MSM manages trash and recycling. Last year with the inaugural club, we had an informative meeting with facilities and learned about how MSM is creating energy efficient spaces, and we discussed what we’d like to see MSM do in the future to continue towards a more eco-friendly campus.

Mindy: This semester, we’ve done a few giveaways of plant cuttings in recycled and repurposed containers. We also collected data from the student body in an interest survey on what they’d like to see MSM do to become a more sustainable campus. Our results concluded that over 75% of the 108 students that took our survey wanted a community garden and a more efficient recycling program. 60% of students also said that they wanted compost programs in the cafeteria and school, as well as more energy efficient buildings, so we’re working on that with Facilities.

What do you have planned for this semester (and beyond)?

Julia: We have a lot of future events in the works. My personal favorite being the bee-friendly flowers going on the terraces!

Mindy: A lot of educational and fun events and activities! We’re working on putting together a series of what we call “Eco-Education Events”, where we discuss environmental topics and issues, as well as what we can do to help. A few upcoming Eco-Educations to look forward to are: All About Recycling, Fight Fast Fashion, Simple Sustainability, and Get WastEd(ucated). In the next few weeks, we’ll be participating in MSM’s “Wellness Week” with a plant therapy/giveaway event for students! I’m a huge plant enthusiast, so getting more greenery into everyone’s lives is really exciting. We’ll also be posting “Eco-Educations” and other informational videos and posts on our Instagram page @msm_environmental, so make sure you’re following us!

L to R: Julia MacGoy (BM '22, Musical Theatre), Mindy Holthe (BM '21, French Horn), and Elizabeth Gartman (MM '21, Composition) at their plant event in the student lounge.