New recycling program, farmers market and more at The Woodlands

Last updated March 8, 2024

By Erikah Haavie

By Victoria Bostrom ’24, The Woodlands at Furman Fellow

Located right behind the university, The Woodlands at Furman community is distinguished by its residents’ unwavering commitment to lifelong learning.  The Woodlands at Furman itself is an active retirement community for those who seek intellectual stimulation and a vibrant atmosphere, making it a unique and thriving environment.

In my internship with The Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities, I’m diving deep into the world of perpetual learning, with a specific focus on understanding how sustainability education can truly make a difference in retirement communities.  It’s not just a lofty idea – this mission is all about getting hands-on and making a real impact. At The Woodlands at Furman, I work closely with my mentor, the director of philanthropy and engagement, Ezra Hall.

As The Woodlands at Furman Sustainability intern, I’ve played a key part in bringing a variety of programs to life, all aimed at boosting the environmental well-being of our lively community. Over the past year, our community has shown dedication to sustainability by kickstarting an energetic sustainability committee. This group, made up of approximately a dozen residents turned environmental advocates, gathers on the last Tuesday of the month. It’s become a time for fresh ideas and new initiatives, all geared towards environmental well-being.

Farmers Market advertisement at The Woodlands

Some of the exciting projects that have taken off this year include implementing a recycling program led by residents, teaming up with local farms to tackle food waste, launching monthly farmers markets and embarking on a journey to optimize energy consumption. These initiatives are not just talk; they’re tangible steps that showcase our commitment to making a positive impact on the environment.

Our approach to sustainability education is to blend environmental habits into everyday lives of the residents. We’re not just handing out information but hoping to instill a shift in mindset that spreads throughout our community. It’s about more than just knowing the eco-friendly option but about creating a sense of responsibility.

This internship brings together my love for sustainability and education in a truly harmonious way. I see it as more than just a job—it’s a chance to connect with a community that’s genuinely enthusiastic about making a positive impact on our changing environment. As we journey through making a difference, I’m convinced that this internship isn’t just a typical professional experience; it’s a transformative adventure, an opportunity to spark change and a commitment to lift the collective awareness of The Woodlands at Furman towards a greener, more sustainable future. I believe other active retirement communities should follow The Woodlands at Furman’s example and incorporate a sustainability element, just like The Shi Institute for Sustainable Communities has done.