New Eco-Activists on Campus: Clean 4 Change

By Lily Barnette

You might have noticed new posters being hung all over campus a few weeks ago from an organization called “Clean 4 Change.” We wanted to learn who they are and their goals, so we reached out to them for an interview.

Clean 4 Change is a non-profit environmental group led by students spread across Kentucky dedicated to educating people about creating a greener future and hosting litter cleanups! Founded by Shayla Roberts-Long, a Berea College first-year student, and Katelyn Johnston, a student from Western Kentucky University, Clean 4 Change was inspired by Lead4Change, an organization that aids in student leadership and community service.

When asked why they founded this organization, Johnston said, “We decided to make Clean 4 Change because Shayla and I have been very passionate about environmental issues and helping our environment for a really long time now. So, when we were presented with this idea for Lead4Change, we decided that it would be great for us to use this platform as something that would help our environment and future generations to come.” Originally, Lead4Change was presented to them in their high school in Louisville, Kentucky, and was described as a student leadership contest.

Roberts-Long provided more context and her own opinions. “They encourage middle and high schoolers specifically to start up organizations on their campus or just in their community; sometimes, they provide funding. We had been doing trash cleanups in Louisville, and they provided us with $500 worth of funding once we submitted all of our information. So the reason that I started is that, like Katelyn said, we had been doing trash cleanups on our own, learning about it, asking questions, and becoming more educated than we were because we started this. We started the concept of it in our junior year of high school, and then we started getting more active in our senior year. And then here we are now, our freshman year of college.”

The Berea Torch asked specifically what they liked and what could be changed about the sustainability at Berea College. Roberts-Long commented, “I would personally love to see more recycling on campus because I know that we haven’t been doing it since COVID started, but I’m also looking to learn more about that. I sent an email to the Coordinator of the Office of Sustainability, and we’re setting up a meeting right now to discuss, you know, what’s going on at Berea College. Why is there lacking in the recycling program, and how can we make things better? So we’re going to have a meeting about that for me to learn more… I definitely love that Berea does place emphasis on sustainability. Even just the simple signs in the bathroom. You know, turn the tap off. I enjoy those little reminders and things because they might not be present on every campus. I know that they weren’t very present in my high school. That’s one of the reasons that I came here.”

Roberts-Long went on to talk about the farm at Berea College. Currently, it is her secondary labor position. “I love the farm sustainability; you know, they’re organic farms, and I see the kind of work that the farm is doing, and I just really admire that being possible here on campus.”

Clean 4 Change has evolved a lot since when it first began. What started as a trash and litter cleanup group has turned into an education and awareness organization. They provide eco-tips on their Instagram and information on something they have coined “Sustainable Sundays.” Not only that, but they are planning for their future to include more in-person events. Furthermore, anyone with a dedication to educating themselves and others on the effects of climate change and the move towards eco-friendly practices is encouraged to join.

Clean4Change has a website and is on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and Facebook!

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