Sustainability and the Environment: Sophia Featherstone ‘22

Today I had the chance to talk to one of my friends, Sophia Featherstone, the President of Environmental Club and a member of the Sustainability Leadership Program. She is a potential Environmental Studies major and is part of the Environmental Fellows program as well as the Honor Scholar Program.


Her Campus: Thank you for agreeing to meet with me! How was your summer? I heard you were involved in a very cool project!

Sophia Featherstone: I was on campus for the summer, working on a project called Precious Plastic DePauw. Precious Plastic was started by a Swedish designer and engineer named Dave Hakkens, who created designs for plastic recycling machines and set up an open project by sharing the information on how to build these machines. We did in depth research in the summer, especially about health and safety, and actually started building the machines. We also refurbished the space and painted the shed, which is actually outside the Peeler parking lot. Everything we used was recycled or reused. I was mainly in charge of the media aspect of the project, so I filmed the process including meetings and the painting part, and we now have a short film for the whole process. Personally, this experience was really cool because I can apply it to what I want to do later in life. I also learned that plastic pollution and plastic waste was a much more complex issue than I initially thought. 


HC: When did you start working on the Precious Plastic project?

SF: We actually started research in the spring with the Environmental Fellows seminar, as a project for the class. We had to do research on health and safety considerations, how precious plastic might affect current recycling operations at DePauw, how we can use media effectively to advertise and influence people’s perceptions, and plastic policies.  We also had educational groups that made plans to go to TZ elementary to teach elementary kids about plastic pollution. 


HC: It seems like you had a busy summer with the project! How has your sophomore year been so far?

SF: It has been challenging since I’m taking 200 and 300 level courses. But I also think that it has been a good thing because these classes have been challenging me to think in different ways. Also, all my classes are interlinked in ways I didn’t expect. It is also my first time being on the exec board for a club so I am still learning as I go. It is cool though because Environmental Club is a recently founded club, so we can shape it in any way we want.


HC: I know you’re also involved in both SLP and Environmental club, but how has that been going for you?

SF: It’s cool because with SLP, it is a much bigger organization with around 80-90 people divided into small groups, so I can learn more about a specific topic. I think it is more hands on learning. I am in the campus farm group this semester but I have been in different groups each semester I participated. The Environmental Club is more geared towards anyone who wants to be involved so we have all sorts of majors. I guess it’s more event based rather than a project. It’s cool that people care about both SLP and Environmental Club since both are very different and there is a reason for both to exist. 


HC: Why did you decide to join these groups and projects?

SF: In the future, I want to get into creating environmental documentary films which is why I like learning about environmental issues and sustainability issues. Classes can teach you the science behind the environmental issues and the implications it has, but with these groups you can learn how to use the knowledge to bring about change and raise awareness. It is also great to be able to do things on a college campus, because we are allowed to make mistakes and learn from them to prepare for the real world.


HC: What has been your favorite part of being involved in these groups and projects?

SF: My favorite part has been being able to see change actually happen and seeing the work we put into these projects take a physical form, like for the Precious Plastic Project and the workspace we made. It is great to be able to apply the knowledge we learned in class and apply it to the real world. I also love the way in which I can see people engage in environmental concerns and issues and seeing the effects that these groups and projects can have. In addition to that, you always learn more because even if you have a basis, a lot of the issues are a lot more complex than you initially think, so having the opportunity to delve into more depth in complex environmental issues has been a great opportunity.


HC: Are there any cool events that you are planning for this semester?

SF: Yes! We have an interest meeting on September 18th at 11:30am at Darnell dining room in Hoover for the Precious Plastic project. As for the Environmental Club, we’re hoping to do some events centered around the environmental strike on the 20th and 27th of September! I also want to do tabling events that are BYOC (Bring Your Own Cup) and hopefully have coffee, tea and hot chocolate. I’m hoping this will raise awareness about the fact that you can use your own cup at the cafes on campus and maybe sell reusable cups designed by the environmental club so that more people can act sustainably.


HC: Thank you so much for talking with me today and good luck with all your events!