“Going green,” which has been the popular phrase for the past several years, reflects efforts and changes in our daily lives to become more sustainable and reduce our negative impact on the environment. With all of the conclusive evidence that scientists have provided, such as global temperature rise and retreating glaciers, there is no denying that global warming is real, and immediate action must be taken. Many programs have been developed to encourage people to make the transition to a more sustainable life. An example is Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, which is a powerful organization that aims to present the truths of global warming through webcast presentations and events. Most importantly, it is not only crucial that we take action but also that we educate others and spread awareness as a university community. C.W. Post is a significant institution on Long Island. It has begun to make efforts in fulfilling its role of becoming a green campus, but has it done enough?
When asked about C.W. Post’s role in becoming a more sustainable campus, Professor of Geography Dr. Scott Carlin responded by saying, “I have been following the greening of universities for about 15 years. C.W. Post has a strong track record in energy efficiency, a respected Arboretum, and other parts of our campus are beginning to invest in sustainable education and campus practices. A growing list of national universities has already made much larger investments in sustainable education, renewable energy, and related practices.”
Carlin continued, “Our challenge is to learn from these national successes, but we must also develop our own sustainable vision. Students play an important role in all of this. Rather than feeling cynical, students should learn how to be more vocal about their ‘green’ vision for our campus. We each need to share with our peers and campus leaders why this matters to us. C.W. Post has a lot of resources that we can strengthen: a green Honors track, a sustainability commitment from Aramark, a growing recycling program, and proposals for new environmental sustainability courses and majors. Right now, we don’t have strong mechanisms for connecting these together. What I consistently hear is that we should expand these programs more rapidly at C.W. Post. We also need to develop new mechanisms for connecting all of these sustainable dots. We are a fragmented campus, and that is not sustainable. But, these are exactly the kinds of problems that we can analyze, discuss, and creatively solve in our classes.” Carlin has been very active in achieving goals to make our campus greener. Displayed with this article is a draft of a map of C.W. Post that he created which includes accomplishments as well as additional ideas that can be implemented to create a much more sustainable community.
Some of the noticeable efforts that have been made on campus include visible recycling bins in the Hillwood Commons, solar paneling on the Public Safety building, and a reusable to-go tray program in Winnick. In response to these changes, Mayra Montoya, the supervisor of Winnick, said, “We have encouraged students to use the reusable, eco-friendly to-go containers this semester. We got rid of the Styrofoam containers and replaced them with eco-friendly sugarcane clamshell containers.” According to the C.W. Post Dining Services website, Aramark has been purchasing its food products locally, which reduces long-distance transporting. Also added to Post were courses on sustainability as well as the sustainability program offered this past summer, which offers students the opportunity to explore various aspects of the issue including green business investing, cleaner energy, environmental journalism, and eco-art. During the spring 2011 semester, C.W. Post hosted its first sustainability luncheon. Professor Carlin hopes to have another one in 2012. These are just a handful of many changes and additions that were brought to the campus.
When asked his opinion on C.W. Post’s green efforts, senior geography major Abrom Shepard said, “Post still has a long way to go compared to other universities in the area. But, the recent improvements have put us on the right track to making us a more sustainable university.”
While these efforts are steps in the right direction, we should not be complacent. For instance, Humanities Hall is one of the main classroom buildings, and there seems to be no efforts in promoting recycling there. All of the garbage, including plastic and paper, is going in the same trash can. With all of the newspapers and plastic bottles that are being dispensed in Humanities, it does not make sense not to have recycling bins available. Also, in the periodicals of the library, the recycling bin is behind the reference desk. Recycling bins should be visible to students, not hidden. In most leading institutions and even in many high schools, recycling bins are present right when you walk into the building, making it convenient for students and staff to throw away their plastic bottles or newspapers in the corresponding bins.
There are abundant amounts of ways to make our campus greener besides recycling. Professor Carlin discussed the idea of providing hydration stations, like the one in the Pratt Recreation Center, to encourage students to use their own water containers rather than plastic water bottles. Think of the potential amount of plastic bottles a year that would not be wasted. If that is not convincing enough, think about the amount of paper that is thrown away every day in a non-recyclable bin. In order to achieve a greener campus, we must take these initiatives, such as those presented by Professor Carlin. Although we have taken steps to attain an eco-friendly campus, there is still much more that can, and should, be done. Like with everything, there is always room for improvement.