Mariah Norell ’19
Majors/Minor: Music and Global Studies; Environmental Studies

Tell us about yourself.

I am involved in The Concordia Choir and the Concordia Theatre. I also serve as the Student Government Association sustainability advocate and as an opinion writer and editor for The Concordian. Outside of campus life, I really enjoy writing my own songs on my guitar and being outside. After college, I would love to have a job that would blend my music, global studies, and environmental studies together.

Eco House residents in living room

What do you know about the history of the EcoHouse?

It was a student project/initiative that started in 2012. Recently, the EcoHouse has been focusing a lot of our attention on geothermal. The EcoHouse is a living experiment. We are constantly trying to answer, “How can we live more sustainability and how can that impact the Concordia and F-M community?”

What responsibilities do you have in order to live at the EcoHouse?

We are all responsible for one individual sustainability project per semester and one group project as well. This semester, my group did a campuswide clothing swap hosted at the EcoHouse.

Why did you decide to apply?

This last year, it became very important how important sustainability is. I knew it would be beneficial for me to live with like-minded individuals. So far, I have already learned a lot. I am much more conscious about my daily life – including water use, food waste, energy consumption, etc.

Eco House residents around the table drinking tea

What sort of students live there?

The EcoHouse is open to a variety of students. You just need knowledge or have an interest in sustainability. Three of us who live there are environmental studies students, but not all.

What makes the residence eco-friendly?

The biggest thing is that we recently had geothermal installed. Basically, geothermal is deep wells that are dug into the ground and will gather the heat. There is a series of fans that will pump that heat through the house. It can also cool it. Prior to the geothermal, we didn’t have air conditioning.

We also have the compost box in the basement. Lights are rarely on, and we try and shop at the co-op and Red River Market, and most of us are vegetarian. The most shocking thing to most is that we compost in the basement. If you are really passionate about it, I would recommend looking for composting in the area. Concordia has one by the campus garden.

What is the biggest sustainability challenge we are currently facing on campus and beyond?

The biggest sustainability challenge we are facing is definitely plastic and waste in general. It is becoming more and more evident how wasteful we are.

Eco House residents studying in livingroom

What would be your top tip for someone who is beginning a more sustainable lifestyle?

First of all, celebrate baby steps. You aren’t suddenly going to be an eco-queen the next day. When I started using a reusable bag, I also kept one in my car. Once you think more deeply about your everyday mundane tasks and choose replacements, it becomes easy and not inconvenient.

Do you have any educational pieces that you would recommend?

“Food, Inc.” and “Minimalism” on Netflix. There is a book that I am reading called “Mindfully Green.” It has simple ways to start on the green path. Honestly, other than that, use the internet. You have resources at your fingertips all the time.

What do you want the Concordia community to know?

That any majors can live in the EcoHouse! You can apply to live there even if you aren’t super involved. You just have to have an interest. I’m trying to bring more people there through events so people begin to inquire about the house. We want to make it more of a social space.

What can campus do to help?

It would be beneficial to implement a lot of practices that we are doing at the EcoHouse into the dorms. Also, I think we should rethink selling plastic water bottles on campus or always having lit buildings.

How do you apply to live in the EcoHouse?

Go into the application process knowing what project you would be interested in. Be descriptive of why you are a good candidate and why you are passionate. It’s really important that you think critically about how you respond.

Read more about the EcoHouse