Low Impact Week to educate students on sustainability

by: Camille Wick – Staff Writer – clwick@unca.edu

Students will have the chance to pick up tips on going green at Low Impact Week, running through Friday. Hosted by UNC Asheville’s Student Environmental Center, Low Impact Week will provide educational events such as Bike Day on Thursday.

“We hope that students will attend these events and not only have fun, but also recognize how easy it is to live without having a detrimental effect on the health of the environment,” said Kelsey Herman, SEC member and Bike Day organizer.

Low Impact Week also includes a free market to keep salvageable items out of the landfill and a screening of the documentary “Wasteland.”

“I am the Transportation Coordinator here at the SEC, so I chose to host an event that pertained to alternative forms of transportation,” Hermann said. “I think this event will be really fun and hopefully will encourage people to choose alternative forms of transportation.”

Bike Day will include games and bike maintenance tutorials, and a volunteer from the Asheville Bike Recyclery will attend the festivities.

“We focus on teaching folks how to build bikes from recycled bike parts and to get people rolling on some alternative transportation for little or no money,” said Matty Semkowich, a volunteer at the Asheville Bike Recyclery.

The Asheville Bike Recyclery, a nonprofit community bike shop, has been in business for 10 years in the Asheville area. Volunteers regularly attend events like Low Impact Week to build community learning and community sharing, Semkowich said.

“We’re really into reaching out to all types of folks and all ages,” Semkowich said. “Any event is an awesome thing. It’s not like we’re focused on particular demographics. We have little kids come in to get their first bikes, and we have folks who are, like, 85 that want to get back on a bike.”

Second Gear, a local business specializing in consignment outdoor gear, donated prizes for the Bike Day event.

“All our consigned gear is being essentially ‘recycled’ back into use,” said Eric Smythers, the managing partner of Second Gear. “Rather than purchasing brand new items that have been produced, shipped overseas and packaged before getting to the shelves, our used items have already been through that life cycle and are usually coming from only a few miles away.”

The Asheville community has embraced Second Gear, and the business has expanded to a second location in downtown Asheville, Smythers said.

“People appreciate the environmentally conscious angle of our store as well as our comparatively cheaper prices on outdoor gear,” Smythers said.

The purpose of Low Impact Week and Bike Day is to encourage students and the community to be more conscious of their impact on the environment, Hermann said.

“I think that now is a pivotal point in the global climate crisis, and it is apparent that many people do not care about the environment,” Hermann said. “If this overall attitude continues, there is no doubt that there will be serious consequences.”

Environmental consciousness in the Asheville community is prevalent, but being eco-friendly is more of a trend for some people who claim to be conscious but are not in practice, Hermann said.

“I would like my career to relate to environmental issues in one way or another,” Hermann said. “I think that spreading the importance of sustainability is the first step to counteracting the climate crisis, and I would certainly like to do my part.”

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