By Samantha Newman-
Sustainability is not something that comes naturally to everyone. In fact, it is something that must be taught. That is why Menlo College staff and students alike are beginning to team up and educate others about sustainability issues.
On February 4th I had the opportunity to sit in on a meeting with a new club on campus called netImpact. The meeting was composed of a group of students and staff dedicated to promoting sustainable and eco-friendly habits on Menlo College’s campus. During the meeting netImpact members senior Conner Todd and freshman Iman Dazem met with staff and faculty members Jackie Greulich, Melissa Pincus, Erik Bakke, Angela Schmiede, and Andrea Peeters. They discussed different ways on how to promote “going green” on Menlo’s campus.
Many problems were discussed during the meeting such as the fairly widespread belief among Menlo students that it is okay to leave lights on when leaving the dorm as a way to get back at tuition prices. While this was no surprise to students (I know several people who do it), the Menlo staff were shocked to hear this. Angela Schmiede explained how that practice was counter-intuitive because causing Menlo’s utility bills to spike only leads to higher tuition prices. Although not stated in the meeting, this act is also pretty selfish since we must think on a macro level when conserving energy and not just our petty revenge against the man (no matter how cathartic it might be).
Towards the end of the meeting those in attendance brainstormed ideas on how to spread the word about using the new trashcans correctly and educating people about what goes into compost, recycling, and trash. For example, the cafeteria to go cup goes in compost, but its lid goes in recycling. The cafeteria boxes and food go in compost, but things like styrofoam and waxed cardboard or juice cartons must go in the trash.
A relay race called Dash for the Trash took place at Menlo College on March 3rd. Students were given a piece of waste, ran to the trash bin, sorted it, and then ran back. It was devised and realized by Menlo staff and students with the premise of making recycling fun, but also teaching students what goes in which bin. During the relay race I interviewed Andrew Hernandez, member of Student Government Association, about what he thought:
“What brings you out here today?” I began our interview, watching in amusement as fellow students did their relay in order to win Menlo memorabilia.
“Oh you know, wanted to support netImpact and the Writing Center. We need to protect our Earth and our school has exceeded the allowable amount of waste.” Andrew responded.
“Why do you think a club like netImpact is important?”
“If we don’t reduce it we will be fined. If that happens then the school will end up charging us more. Nobody wants that.”
Andrew made good points before going off to join the fun of racing and winning a prize.
With new laws like AB 901, which require reporting how much waste is created and reducing it, Menlo College needs to step up its policies about recycling and composting. We not only need to be more cautious because we could be fined, but also because we must all live and protect the one planet we call home. My fellow Menlo peers, as I finish this article I urge you to be conscientious of the impact you leave. Walk the extra 10 feet to put your lunch box in the compost, turn off your lights and fans when you leave your room, put your smoked cigarettes in the ashtrays. Each small act adds up!