Well over 50 students came down to New York City for the People’s Climate March two weeks ago. This was an incredible turnout, for over 50 busy students to wake up early on a Sunday morning and not get back until late that evening. Many other students expressed interest but had other commitments, or were too busy to go. We need to keep that momentum moving forward to push for sustainability on our campus and around the world.
Our generation is the one that will be affected by environmental issues. Climate change is causing devastating storms and droughts already. The Arctic ice is melting, and species are becoming extinct 1000 times faster than the natural rate due to human activity. Environmental racism has become a global issue, with the poorest members of the world living with the most pollution.
Sustainability is not something to wait for until you graduate. Sustainability is something you can do right now, in your very own backyard. If you are interested in environmental issues at all, you’ve probably noticed a thing or two that you’d like to see changed. Maybe you’ve seen recycling in the trash bin, or wished you could compost those egg shells and banana peels. Maybe you’ve noticed someone putting just a couple items in the dryer. Maybe you’ve wished that RPI had more solar panels. Instead of just noticing, why not do something? Why not change the world?
Sustainability starts at small scales. There are dozens of lists of what you can do in your personal life. But we can also start truly “at home” with our own college. Sodexo has reached out to us for help in greening the dining halls. Sean Wilson ’15 has recently been put on the project, but the more students who help him find cost-effective ways to make our food and dining hall operations more sustainable, the more we can research and make happen.
In order to fund sustainability projects, we are trying to get a green revolving fund started. Money from the endowment is used for projects that have a higher return on investment than the endowment would normally. But this isn’t a project that can just happen; we need more students doing research on potential projects with a high return on investment, as well how green revolving funds have worked at other colleges.
Student Sustainability Task Force is about more than just its own projects; it serves as a coordinating body for all the sustainability clubs. We keep a list of environmental club contact information and meeting times (on the ecologic.union.rpi.edu website). Clubs sometimes collaborate on a project; for example Engineers Without Borders and Engineers for a Sustainable World work together each year to teach school children about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics concepts at Exploring Engineering Day.
If any of these projects interest you, contact SSTF and we will put you in touch with the project leader. You can also feel free to come to one of our general body meetings in the Shellnut Gallery from 4–5 pm on Wednesdays.