Marist Takes Strides Towards Sustainability

By Jennifer Hill

Americans throw away ten times their weight in garbage every year. Recycling one aluminum can make enough energy to power a television for three hours. It takes 75,000 trees to print one Sunday edition of the New York Times. According to the Marist Website, all of these facts are only a taste of how we treat our environment. So the question is: how many people are actually reducing, reusing and recycling?

The answer is that the number of people who care about the environment is increasing. While Marist and many other schools have made efforts to become more environmentally friendly in the past few years, some faculty and students are just beginning to take notice.

“Recently I’ve noticed Marist making a greater effort to go green,” Marist sophomore Caitlin Mekita said. “There are tons of recycling bins and newspaper collections and students get a discount if they use a reusable coffee mug in any of the cafes on campus.”

Although Mekita and other students are just noticing the changes, a Campus Sustainability Advisory Committee (CSAC) was started in 2007 to ensure that Marist was doing everything possible to be environmentally-friendly. Since it began, the committee has begun to implement changes throughout campus.

“Composting in residence halls, buying food from local markets and relamping campus with energy efficient bulbs are just a few of the things that Marist is doing to help the environment,” Steve Sansola, the committee co-chair and director of Student Affairs said.

Marist has posted a video on the Marist College website detailing different project and efforts that the college is working on.

On Feb. 5, Marist participated in second Sustainability Day which 500 students attended. Thirty to 40 classes incorporated the idea of sustainability into their curriculum.

“The event was very successful,” Sansola said. “It helped to teach students how to reduce their carbon footprint and shift the way they think about what they consume.”

“Sustainability Day had a huge impact on me,” Amanda Huggins, a  Marist student and Sustainability Day attendee said. “I’m really considering changing to a mostly plant diet instead of a meat diet because of the seminar I attended.”

Above in the United States Environmental Protection Agency symbol. Image courtesy of http://www.epa.gov/highschool/neighborhood.htm.

Above in the United States Environmental Protection Agency symbol. Image courtesy of http://www.epa.gov/highschool/neighborhood.htm.

In a message regarding the importance of environmental education on the Marist Website, Dennis J. Murray, the president of Marist, said, “It is important for all organizations to be concerned about our environment, but colleges and universities must take the lead in educating people about the issues related to sustainability, as well as setting an example of environmental stewardship.”

The picture above shows a recycling symbol to encourage students and faculty to reduce, reuse and recycle. Image courtesy of www.marist.edu.

The picture above shows a recycling symbol to encourage students and faculty to reduce, reuse and recycle. Image courtesy of http://www.marist.edu.

Students are beginning to realize that altering simple habits can make a big difference. On the United States Environmental Protection Agency Website, there are groups for elementary, middle and high school aged children to learn more about the environment and what they can do to help.

“Every student is capable of shifting their mind and thinking about minimizing their impact,” Sansola said. “Think to yourself, why do I need that new phone? Do I really need the best of everything?”

In 2003, Marist began the SEED (Students Encouraging Environmental Dedication) club. Their mission is to make other students aware of the environment and encourage others to take care of the planet.

“SEED sponsors a lot of great environmental events on campus,” Amelia Otte, a SEED member said. Some events they hold are hiking trips, an organic dinner and a nature trails clean-up.

“By talking to each other we can change people’s basic habits,” Sansola said. “Simple changes will have a ripple effect, if everyone does it, it will make a huge impact.”

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