Southern strives for sustainability

Aaron BerkowitzGeneral Assignment Reporter 

Making an effort to be more environmentally friendly and aware is much more than just recycling bottles and cans, said Heather Stearns, SCSU’s Recycling Coordinator.

“There’s countless ways that everyone can get involved. We are always looking for different ways to recycle. We have recycled mattresses, paint, pallets; there’s really a long list of ways we are trying to improve campus life that the community might not see,” said Stearns. “It’s so much more than paper and cardboard. We constantly look at our recycling rates to see what we are generating and how we can keep it out of the waste stream, move it more towards to either reuse or donation.”

Stearns said the campus’ effort to be more sustainable doesn’t stop with her department.

“We,” said Stearns, “ also work closely Residence Life who have lots of furniture that gets abused through its lifespan, but we work with organizations such as Goodwill Industries which will take these items and find ways to put them back into the community.”

recycle canSCSU participates in America Recycles Day each year, which fell on Nov. 15, in order to raise awareness of the wide range of efforts made across the country to become more environmentally friendly through recycling. According to America Recycles Day’s website, 1078 events have been registered this year and range from the recycling of cans to clothes.

Stearns said even though her plan for the university’s participation in the day of awareness didn’t go as she envisioned, her department is still conducting a reuse project campus wide.

“Our student interns have been going around and collecting all of the posted signs and posters that are no longer in use on campus to put together little recycled tear off notepads,” said Stearns. “We thought this would be a nice idea to get students involved and also be a cool project that they can use.”

SCSU has also aims to “go green” through the implementation of water bottle re-fillers which aims to reduce the amount of plastic the campus uses and also through the construction of the new science building that is being built with solar panels.

Water stationThe Huffington Post did a study that analyzed some of the most prominent ways college campuses are striving to go green across the country. They include: solar powered trash cans which compress trash and alert when they need to be emptied, the use of alternative energy sources, and not using trays in the cafeteria to reduce food waste and electricity.

Suzanne Huminski, SCSU’s Sustainability Coordinator, said there are always new ways being discovered to reduce the footprint we leave on earth and it doesn’t only affect the environment, but can also affect the pockets of the average American.

“I am teaching a freshman class called Global Environmental Issues,” said Huminski. “That tracks the amount of bottles that the water bottle re-fillers on campus save and each Thursday they go and check them to see the progress. At the end of the year the class will do their final to show the results.”

Stearns said the effort to be more environmentally friendly is everlasting and encourages students to get involved because the cause affects everyone.

“Students can sign our pledge to start recycling either on our Facebook page or on the America Recycles Day website,” said Stearns. “Our goal is to reduce waste on campus and continue to increase the recycling. When we are reducing waste our first step is to see if we can reuse these materials before recycling.”

Photo Credit: Aaron Berkowitz

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