Eco Reps and the Office of Sustainability pack up their sorting equipment, posters, and protective equipment after sorting trash. The Eco-Rep program is a peer-to-peer sustainability program working with first-year students to teach sustainability goals. (Roshan Giyanani/B&W Staff)

New store Verde and Lehigh’s Office of Sustainability promote environmental consciousness


North Bethlehem has a new sustainable living shop, Verde, that aims to spread awareness about how people can live more sustainably. 

The shop, located on East Broad Street, brings a new meaning to sustainable living. Owner Shawnnah Drey said their mission is to make sustainable living approachable. 

She defines sustainable living as living in a way that takes as little away from the planet and puts as little as possible back in. 

“You don’t necessarily have to be all in — you can take baby steps to approach sustainability,” Drey said. “You can reuse plastic Dawn bottles and come and get dish soap.” 

Verde offers products that use minimal packaging and can be recycled or composted. The store also has a zero-waste refillery where customers can restock on plant-based soaps, detergents and dishwasher gels. 

Patrons can also find various handmade candles, personal care and home items at Verde. 

A lot of the artisans Verde partners with have recycled the vessel their products come in. Drey said customers can bring their oil and candle jars back to the shop to be sanitized and reused.

“All our detergents, cleansers and soaps are all natural, so we are not putting any more chemicals into the earth or our waters,” Drey said. “A lot of our goods are made from sustainable sources.”

Drey said she has noticed more people becoming interested in sustainable living in recent years. She hopes Verde can help people realize drastic changes are not the only option and educate those who want to get started.

Drey is not the only person working to increase sustainable practices in Bethlehem. The Office of Sustainability runs different clubs on Lehigh’s campus with the same goal in mind.

Audrey McSain, sustainability director at Lehigh University, said she is looking forward to going to Verde and seeing how the store is impacting sustainability in the area. 

“We want to make sure that we are doing our jobs by educating students so that they can also create a more sustainable environment for themselves and future generations,” McSain said. “I would tell students even if you are not academically inclined towards sustainability, there are a lot of ways to get involved on campus and live a little more sustainably.”

McSain said the Office of Sustainability supports different programs such as Eco-Coin and the Eco-Rep Leadership Program to help spread awareness and increase sustainability on campus. 

The Office of Sustainability aims to create a more eco-friendly environment on Lehigh University’s campus. The office worked with Lehigh University Eco-Reps to educate people on the best way to recycle and avoid food waste. (Leslie Regan/B&W Staff)

McSain said the Eco-Rep program is best described as a group of students who are passionate about the environment. She said their mission is to model sustainable change on Lehigh’s campus through things like conserving water or encouraging energy usage consciousness and food sustainability. 

Eco-Rep Tessa Dougan, ‘24, said she hopes the program will help students learn how to reduce their overall footprint and live in a way that creates as little waste as possible. 

Dougan said the Eco-Rep program is a peer-to-peer sustainability program working with first-year students to teach sustainability goals through building events on various subjects, aiming to increase environmental awareness. 

Dougan hopes these events help people live more consciously and realize their actions make a more significant difference. 

“I think it is important to have people recognize how their small actions can create a huge reaction,” Dougan said. “In the case of not living sustainably, a small action might not seem like a lot to you, but if you add them all up, they end up being very impactful.”

Evy Rahmey, ’23, said Verde is another outlet that Lehigh students can access to help them live more sustainably. 

Rahmey said that she is excited about what Verde is going to bring to the North Side. 

“I love Verde because it can be hard to take advantage of some of the resources at Lehigh because I am so busy,” Rahmey said. “But, to be able to walk over to the North Side and check out Verde is awesome because it puts sustainability in the context of the greater Lehigh community.”

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