As each succeeding summer takes its place as the hottest on record, more and more people are warming up to the idea that something has to be done. Organizations both large and small are fighting the battle to save the planet. One such group is the Korea University Saving the Environment Project (KUSEP). KUSEP is doing its part by promoting the idea of protecting the environment at KU.
KUSEP is KU's only club with the goal of protecting the environment. KUSEP's major activities include spreading the news about environmental issues through Facebook, advertising the benefits of reusable paper, holding educational sessions on how to protect the environment, convening academic seminars, and protecting endangered species.
Founded five years ago, the club was started by Ko Hong Seok (’07, Environmental Science and Ecological Engineering) to bring recognition to environmental issues and to act to solve them. Under the slogan, “Don’t talk just act,” KUSEP develops activities with the goal of directly inspiring people to get involved in solving environmental issues. KUSEP members believe that raising awareness will transform individuals into committed world citizens who will someday have a significant impact on improving the environment.
▲ Tree icon. Provided by Pixelkit, Seaicons.
The club is organized into four teams as follows: Media and Issues, Education, Academics, and Campaigns. The Used Paper Project, which is in its second year, is being run by the Campaign team. Any KU student can participate in the campaign by sending KUSEP pictures of how they have reused paper efficiently through Facebook. In addition, KUSEP collects reusable paper from printing stores near the school to place them in on-campus study rooms and libraries.
▲ Ahn Youn Kyoung, president of KUSEP. Photographed by Baeg Hawon.
Ahn Yoon Kyung (‘16, Environmental Science and Ecological Engineering), the representative of the club, expressed special affection towards the Used Paper Project. During the first turn of the project, many students mistook the boxes for wastebaskets. The campaign was a total failure. Yet, KUSEP members did not give up–through meetings, they decided to bind reusable paper to make notebooks. At the end of the semester, the boxes were empty, due to the rapid use of reusable paper. Changing failure into success, KUSEPers gained the courage to carry on new projects like the Tumbler Use campaign, which was also newly introduced last semester.
Another interest KUSEP has is protecting abandoned or endangered animals. In order to protect endangered species, the members have been making bracelets and ecobags which are features brief information leaflets about endangered species. Moreover, the profits are being donated
to a homeless dog shelter and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). To get more students engaged, KUSEP has also been holding events during school festivals. Last year, KUSEP held marketing booths in cooperation with two other KU clubs, allowing students to color their own pouches that had rough sketches of animals. A lot of students were interested, and the event ended in huge success.
▲ KUSEP activities. Provided by KUSEP.
From February 17 to March 4, KUSEP recruited new members through a two-step process of receiving applications and conducting interview sessions. Ahn said that their vision for the year lies in making their current activities more successful rather than embarking on new projects. Although the club welcomes interactions with other clubs with similar interests or with interested students, KUSEP plans to focus on its current core missions.
For example, KUSEP is planning to invite more experts to inform students about environmental concerns. While the club has focused on providing education for elementary students until now, it is planning to provide environmental education for KU students and high school students as well. While such plan is yet in its rudimentary stage, Ahn has showed determination to actualize the idea.
Since the greatest barrier KUSEP faces is to raise student awareness, more emphasis will be put on holding campaigns and initiating movements that anyone can join. KUSEP is seeking for better campaign ideas and education strategies that will help people empathize with the issues.
Even though the evidence is all around us, many remain oblivious to their negative impact on the environment and the long-term damage done to the planet. Ahn emphasized how the very first step of bringing change is in attracting the attention of the general public. She believes that no big change can be brought by a small group of people. In order to change the environment, a movement of great scale and healthy intentions is needed.