U environmental group sells coupon books

by Maggie Hessel-Mial

When Melissa Wenzel first joined the Environmental Studies Club there were three members – the minimum requirement for a student group.

Now, five years later, there are 65.

Along with the increase in members, the club has taken on a fund-raising goal: to provide a sign for the Sarita Wetland restoration project.

The restoration of the wetlands located on the St. Paul campus will make the area suitable for class research and recreation once it is finished.

Suzanne Savanick, coordinator for the Sustainable Campus Initiative, said the sign will help get students, staff and faculty involved in the project.

“We needed a way to let people know where the wetlands are,” Savanick said. “It seemed like a good fit.”

The club started selling the Blue Sky Guide on Thursday, a coupon book dedicated to ideas on how Minnesotans can reduce their impacts on the environment.

Guide spokeswoman Katherine Mullen said the guide will be good for University students because many of the businesses featured are in the campus area. Businesses around the University include Midwest Mountaineering, Avalon Card and Gift, Ragstock and Everyday People.

“We want to provide alternatives to people,” Mullen said. “(The Blue Sky Guide) provides incentive for people to change their behavior.”

The club will be selling the books, which sell for $20 and contain $5,000 worth of coupons, again on the last day of classes and the first day of finals on the St. Paul campus, Wenzel said.

Club members, who meet twice per month, participate in activities such as camping, seed collecting and learning more about their field from environmental speakers.

“The club is good for active and passive environmentalists,” Wenzel said. “It allows us to be adaptable for everyone.”

Recently, Wenzel said she has received e-mails from other universities wanting tips on how to set up a successful environmental student group.

“I got an e-mail from someone in South Dakota who wanted to start a club and wanted advice,” Wenzel said.

“Everyone cares about these issues,” she said. “You can see the impacts all around us. Everything we do is tied with the environment.”

While the club works to reach its goal of selling enough guides to get a sign for the wetland restoration, Mullen said she thinks the guide will help students learn where they can help the environment while they are saving money.

“Not everyone will ride their bike to work,” Mullen said. “But they may find something in the guide to do instead that reduces their impact on the environment.”