The clubs of Western Carolina University frequently turn to tabling in the fountain area on campus for a variety of causes. Recently, a new group has started advocating for greater environmental awareness.
Sunrise is a new club on campus and one rapidly gaining attention. They work in the community to raise awareness about the environment and they describe themselves as a ‘youth-led movement against the climate crisis,’ and seek to promote healthy discussion amongst peers.
Knox Hamilton, a sophomore majoring in elementary education, works with Sunrise as a campus coordinator. He provided some insight on Sunrise and its goals as a club.
“We are a local hub of a national movement. The national movement works to find solutions to the climate crisis, like the Green New Deal, and they work with a lot of progressive politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders,’ Hamilton said. ‘The local hub focuses more on finding local solutions to the climate crisis.”
Sunrise services both Jackson and Haywood County, offering support to local environmental agencies and emergency services.
“Haywood County last semester had terrible flooding from a hurricane, so we’re currently working on developing a relationship with Haywood County EMS to do some river clean up.’ Hamilton said. ‘The storm caused a lot of damage that they are still cleaning up.”
On a local level, Sunrise encourages members of the community to contribute in every way possible.
“We suggest being mindful of what you buy and where you buy from. Big corporations like Walmart are the only way to get stuff around here for the most part, but they are very wasteful,” Hamilton said.
General mindfulness goes a long way, especially as many things humans participate in generate a lot of waste. Hamilton specifically stressed the importance of recycling and how it impacts the WCU community, as well as Jackson County.
“We are also working on a recycling initiative on campus at the student apartment complexes,” Hamilton said. “Right now, all of our waste for the county and the school gets sent to Georgia. It takes a lot of emissions to get over the mountain, and we are paying for it. If we recycled more, we could take our waste to Asheville, which is a lot closer, and we would be getting paid for those recyclables.”
Not only would increasing recycling in Jackson County reduce waste, but it would save the county money as well. Sunrise urges students to recycle more because Jackson County as a whole does not reach the threshold required to justify transporting the recycling to Asheville.
“If you want to get involved with us specifically, look us up on Instagram. There is a link to a Discord server in the bio, that is the best way to get involved. It is very active, and anybody is willing to help answer your questions,” Hamilton said.
Sunrise can be found on Instagram @sunrisewcu, where they are building a community of environmentally conscious students with the goal of making a change on a local scale.