What’s next after charter amendment loss?

The University Environmental Action Group has moved past the defeat of their esteemed charter amendment initiative last month and is now focusing on new environmental problems.

Expanding out from Bowling Green, EAG is pushing to help the Lake Erie Bill of Rights initiative in Toledo, another charter that would grant the lake rights similar to citizens’ rights.

Citing a long history of nutrient pollution, industrial farming and flawed regulation, environmental activists in Toledo are trying to grant the crucial ecosystem of Lake Erie the right to exist, flourish and naturally evolve.

The charter amendment needs 13,090 signatures to get on the ballot, and EAG wants this to be one of their next big goals. But they also have plans for much more.

“During Earth Week in April, we want to put together a rights of nature symposium forum event,” EAG president Brad Holmes said. “We’re looking to have a panel of professionals or professors from different disciplines like biology, economics, political science, philosophy and environmental science. And, potentially have BG orgs or national environmental organizations attend for the sake of really getting people to think about how nature and environmental rights are overlapping wide-spread issues.”

Promoting education and awareness of environmental problems are the pinnacle stepping stones for environmental groups to accomplish their long-term sustainability goals. And groups like EAG take active roles in doing so.

“EAG offers a more diversified education outside of the classroom, pertaining to the environment,” senior EAG member Adam Panas said. “It’s a really good way for the student population to get involved with the community and enact environmentally friendly change. We’re involved with various protests and community initiative planning. And promoting community awareness that’s definitely not passive. We take an activist approach to it.”

Waste issues and waste reform at the University are also reoccurring problems EAG intends to tackle next year.

“Whether it’s food waste, whether it’s improper handling of recycling, whether it’s having Styrofoam,” Holmes said. “We just began meeting with people in the sustainability office and with campus services and with dining operations. So we could start inquiring about ways to get more established at BG, ways to get composting, ways to get more responsible recycling, de-incentivizing plastic bag use.”

EAG’s members express optimism for the future, hoping that their increased efforts will drive more support.

“I feel a very definite connection, and I really believe in the work I’m doing, and I love sharing it with people,” EAG member and charter amendment lead organizer Lisa Kochheiser said. “Community environmental rights are crucial.”