The post below was written by Kira Wilson, Class of 2020 in response to the recent election. The message that we’ve taken away from it is that this is a time for action & unity. ~GarnetGoesGreen
I have never been so appalled and embarrassed in the entirety of my life. I keep waiting for this all to be over, like the joke is finally done. The simple idea that a racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic bigot will now be the face of this country is unreal. Even putting politics aside here, this man is a terrible terrible human being all the down to his core. I am deeply saddened and have never felt so powerless in my life.
One of the issues that I am most upset about, is Trumps disbelief in climate change. Trump plans to appoint Myron Ebell, one of the most outspoken climate change skeptics of our time as the head of the EPA. He is a non scientist, and a funder of companies included ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Institute, and coal giant Murray Energy Corporation. He is also a constant taunter if scientists and environmentalists, truly someone who has no place running the Environmental Protection Agency.
He also plans to dismantle the Paris Agreements. Even the thought of this happening is petrifying and truly opens up international concern. While he cannot block other countries from fulfilling their promises in the paris agreements, he can pull the United States out of their commitment. The United States is the world’s second largest greenhouse gas emitter, and meeting the Paris Agreements goals will be unattainable without it.
As someone going into the field of environmental science, it scares me to think that as I enter the workforce, the environment will be in worse off than I ever thought it would be. To express my anger and discontent with the Trump Presidency, my friend and I decided to take action. We met up with members of Ozone House and made our way down to the capitol building in Albany for an anti Trump protest.
As we stood there in a circle, posters in hand, people walked up and read poems, told stories, spoke from the heart and every word was more powerful than the last, To ban together as a group, tell the world that we don’t stand for this, that this man is not our president is one of the most uplifting and inspiring feelings. The feeling of being powerless left, and although it was a small group, it was a place to express grievances and worries and genuine concerns. I was no longer in the world of making politics into memes, this was real people who have already been hurt.
Many people don’t understand why these protests are happening, they’re saying that it’s pointless, and to “stop being sore losers”. While most protesters acknowledge they can’t change Tuesday’s vote, they want to stand in deafening opposition to a candidate who disparaged women, gays, immigrants and other segments of society. Protest shows discontent and unhappiness with the way that the system works, the way that Trump became the President Elect of the United States. The right to protest is protected under the first amendment, it is one of the most important truly American actions you can take part in. Our protest was small, but we were and are able to voice our opinions, express the true fear we all have and ban together as a united front.
The 10 best accounts on Instagram that will help you learn how to live simply with less waste
Megean Weldon: Check out her website at zerowastenerd.com
Founder and CEO The Simply Company trashisfortossers.com
by Jessica Roberts
I would like to start out this blog by saying that I am a tree lover. Yup, that’s right, I love trees. One of the reasons for my love of trees is that I find nature and especially a forest to have a calming and serene effect. So, as you can imagine, here at Union when I walk into Jackson’s Gardens, I can automatically feel the effect that the forest has on me. I can feel the coolness from the shade of the trees provide, I can smell the fresh soil that is continuously being nourished by the forest community, and I can sense the activity and life that the forest brings to all of the living creatures inside.
Now just wait, because I know what you may be thinking. You may think that I never want to cut down a tree or harm any living thing, even the bee that is flying around the classroom. But this is definitely not me. I enjoy trees and the forest but I do understand that sometimes trees need to be cut down. And don’t even get me started on bugs or bees, once they come inside its game over for me. But trees need to be cut down for a variety of different reasons. Maybe because they have started to take up the sidewalk on a street or maybe some need to be cut down for the continuous influx of people coming into an area. For whatever reason, economically, socially, or otherwise, I do understand. However, I am a big promoter of planting new trees and starting new life. Not only do trees and forests provide shade and a home for many different animals, they also take carbon dioxide out of the air and replace it with something that all humans need; oxygen! By planting new trees in a place where they are able to reach their full potential we are creating an environment with cleaner air for ourselves and helping to get the carbon dioxide that we all hear about out of our environment. I also believe that any little thing helps. Not a tree person? Maybe you should try a houseplant. All houseplants usually need are some water and a sunny window and they will brighten up your room and clean the air around you. For me, it sounds like everyone wins in this situation.
Ever since I was little, the environment has been very important to me. I was the girl who would enthusiastically take home my tree from school on Arbor Day and beg my parents to plant it someplace in the yard because I thought it was important. This is why, each year I try to plant a tree. It doesn’t necessarily matter to me where the tree goes, as long as it can provide all of its great features for someone someplace out there. I heard a saying once that went something like this, “ Society will become great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they will never sit in.” I have sort- of adopted this motto throughout my life and try my best to keep our environment great along with the people inside it.
By Cameron Bechtold ’20
On day one of my college career I noticed something, or should I say someone, in a green shirt as I went to throw away my food. It was a person that I was not familiar with, especially not at my small public high school. As I got closer, I noticed what the man in the green shirt was doing. He was directing people where to put their food and other waste. The more I looked around, the more people I saw in these iconic green shirts. At each waste-can there was equally a person in a green shirt. The “Green-Team” is what they are known as, which is a very suitable name. Though in my eyes, I see them as a team of waste superheros.
It appeared that they were at almost every event at orientation. They even helped sort waste while people were moving in – distinguishing between recyclables and trash. Throughout these events they were training us, new students, to properly dispose of our waste. Not only that, but also how to recycle and put as little waste into the landfill as possible. I know that I am not the only person here who is just vaguely familiar with recycling, but the “Green-Team” is making it much easier to understand and participate.
College is known as a place to learn, we learn how to be environmentally aware. The “Green-Team” is teaching us that there is more than just one universal bin to throw everything into when we’re done eating. I know that I have not yet perfected which can to throw my cups or plastic utensils into yet, but I am sure that after four years, twelve terms, thirty six classes, I will know exactly what to do with each item on my plate.
With all the new green initiatives happening on Union’s campus, it is definitely looking more and more like a green campus (not only because of the shirts) to me. The “Green-Team” is one of the many groups of people helping push students along in the right direction. Hopefully I, along with many other students, are going to bring these methods home during our time off-campus thanks to the “Green Team”.
By Dory Freeman ‘20
Fellow First Years, our first year of college has begun, time for the stress to really kick in. Eight am’s, dirty laundry, and loads of homework will surely drive us mad. And we can’t forget to try to squeeze in a social life while we’re at it. Nonetheless, let us not be so absorbed in our own well being, or madness, that we forget or neglect the environment’s health!
I’m sure you all brought an entire car load of things that you “had to have” for your dorm, my car was jam packed with everything and anything, you name it. But, did you think as you unwrapped, unboxed, and gathered plastic trash, the amount of waste all 500 plus of us brought and disposed of and the amount of energy that we attached to Union’s/our own carbon footprint?
Yes, there are recycling and trash receptacles in your hall thanks to Facilities & the Sustainability Office, but did you take the time to sort it all to the correct bins? Hopefully. Maybe. Maybe Not. If not, this is probably because you, and I, were so consumed with decorating, arranging, and meeting our roommates that we neglected to consider the impact of our waste.
As I unpacked my printer, T.V., and other appliances, I couldn’t help but cringe a bit seeing the amount of plastic trash scattered around the small dorm room. I knew this trash was a waste, seeing that all of us first years most likely had similar amounts piling up. Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t have brought the things we did, I’m just saying that we can take steps to minimize what goes to the landfill. Like, sorting out paper and plastic from the remaining trash or reusing plastic bags and containers in our dorms. We can’t just go zero waste today but we can be smart and mindful in reducing, reusing, and recycling.
Finally, it is simple to take part in Union’s initiative to establish a greener campus. West dining hall has a station to sort recycling, trash, and most important, compost. Other dining areas have this set up as well, so utilize it! Hear me out, it is not that hard to read the labels and dispose of your leftovers properly. Another consideration, turn the lights off when you’re not in your room.
Along with working hard and settling in, let’s make an effort to take part in Union’s sustainability efforts!
by Nik Lockwood ’19
On Monday, June 13th, I was part of Facilities’ 10th annual Donation Day. In small teams, we systematically went through all the dorm buildings and emptied them. Excepting the rooms of students staying late, we entered every room and removed all contents which were not college-owned furniture. Items marked for Donation, as well as items not marked, but deemed worthy, were brought to Memorial Fieldhouse, where local Community Organizations (including Habitat for Humanity, City Mission, Schenectady Community Action Program, YWCA, Refreshing Springs Community Church, and several others) took whatever they thought they could use. Non-donation items left in rooms were recycled or thrown away.
I did not have the opportunity to see what the traditional housing, Minervas, and theme houses looked like – I was assigned to a team that dealt only with Greek housing. We Started in Raymond (Sigma Delta Tau and Sigma Chi), moved to Potter (Chi Psi and Delta Delta Delta), took care of Hickok (Gamma Phi Beta), and finally emptied Edwards (Theta Delta Chi).
The sororities tended to produce more Donation materials than the fraternities, and the fraternities yielded more trash than did the sororities. Gamma Phi Beta in particular had a lot of Donations, and TDX had by far the most trash, and its disposal was the highlight of my day – there was a dumpster on the north side of the building, and we threw trash into it from the fire escape. Several couches met their end this way, as well as an old TV (later removed from the dumpster for proper e-waste recycling). TDX also had a few custom bed-frames, built with 2x4s and plywood, which had to be cut apart in order to be thrown away.
Overall, there was approximately 25% more material Donated than last year. After the Community Organizations had taken all they wanted, the rest was brought to a Salvation Army Thrift Store.
The schedule below has been brought to you by U-Sustain, Dining Services, Environmental Club, Office of Sustainability, Engineers for a Sustainable World (ESW), Octopus’s Garden, Ozone House, Schenectady Greenmarket & ReTree Schenectady.
For more details on each of these events – Earth Week Event Descriptions ’16
Thank you all for your efforts to pull together a full schedule of events.
Questions? Email Stephanie Dick at email@example.com
Every Sunday, vendors, shoppers, and musicians congregate at the foot of Jay Street in the summer and fall, and Proctor’s Theatre in the winter and spring to enjoy a festive farmer’s market complete with delicious food, artisan goods, and other eccentrics. The Schenectady Greenmarket is home to sixty vendors who sell everything they produce and who are committed to building a sustainable food system for Downtown Schenectady. Schenectady is considered a food desert and the Greenmarket helps to alleviate this problem.
Sustainability Coordinator, Meghan Haley Quigley, sits on the Board of Directors of the Schenectady Greenmarket. She has served in this capacity since 2012. Working with former board member Bruce Connolly, and treasurer Maureen Kopach, the trio is responsible for organizing Greenmarket at Union events biannually. The purpose of bringing vendors to Union is twofold–to make students more aware of locally grown food available for purchase, as well as to promote the market. Haley-Quigley regards the Greenmarket at Union events as highly successful. Since a few years ago, there has been a larger proportion of students aware of the Greenmarket, according to Haley-Quigley. This has led to more interactions with vendors. Many of the students have built a personal connection with vendors. Vendors that are familiar with Union, like the frozen yogurt vendor Ayelada, came to campus last Monday to augment its exposure. Four other vendors joined Ayelada to gain new exposure to Union’s students. Union does not guarantee sales to vendors. The vendors were primarily here out of their own will for publicity purposes.
Vendors were selected based on how its products aligned with the lifestyles of students. All the products are readily made. Haley-Quigley encourages students to go to Greenmarket more often. Haley-Quigley expressed that as a four-year residential college, students should really embrace all the city has to offer by going to Greenmarket every Sunday. Through the Greenmarket, students will discover a world beyond Union dedicated to eating and living sustainably.
Check out this link for more info: http://schenectadygreenmarket.org/
This Thursday, March 3rd is World Wildlife Day. It will be the 3rd anniversary of the day, after its creation in 2013 by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). It was declared the day “of signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as UN World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants”
Each year World Wildlife Day takes on a different theme, and this year the theme will be “The future of wildlife is in our hands”. The theme this year will be mainly focused on Asian and African Elephants. Elephants are the largest land mammals on earth, yet they fall victim to the same dangers almost every species is vulnerable to: habitat destruction. However, the ivory trade is the most urgent contributor to threatening elephant’s survival. Although international ivory trade has been banned since 1989, there are still unregulated ivory markets in many countries. Elephants are integral to forest and savanna ecosystems and play a huge role in biodiversity.
There are many species facing the threat of habitat destruction from human forces, such as farming and development. Poaching and trafficking are also the most immediate threat to widely and lesser-known species of wildlife.
All of the threats facing wildlife today are from humans, which means that we also have the power to make a difference to reverse and prevent the damage. Governments, lawmakers, enforcement officers, customs officials and park rangers around the world are taking initiatives to protect local wildlife and habitats.
The UN hopes that World Wildlife Day will help raise awareness for citizens from around the world to commit to creating positive progress for these animals. Support awareness through sharing posts on social media is an easy way for everyone to help. Visiting botanical gardens and national parks are also great activities during the spring as the weather gets better
The most dangerous thing we can do is take the world around us for granted. Whether its getting into the habit of properly recycling waste, or taking a day to raise awareness for wildlife that are close to extinction, every little step helps to keep the environment healthy. There are so many more ways to get involved than people realize, and finding something you’re passionate about is the first step in making a difference.
Written By: Andy Zou
The sale of carbon credits to finance reforestation, ecosystem restoration, and resource conservation projects in different parts of the world should be in the future for Union College, as part of a proposed carbon-offsetting policy for study abroad air travel.
Carbon offsets are valuable tools to negate the impact of greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the College’s overall carbon footprint. The college has been a signatory of the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment (ACUPCC) since 2007 and has a timeline in place for achieving net zero carbon footprint by 2060.
While carbon offsets are not an entirely novel approach for the College, it should be expanded upon to include air travel offsets. Carbon offsetting works best for certain carbon-emitting sources that the college does not intend to reduce without compromising its educational mission. Such an example is study abroad travel. Study abroad air travel made up 9-10% of Union’s total carbon emissions in FY 2014. The 2014 New Zealand Mini-Term was the first study abroad program to be fully offset by the college. Introducing carbon offsets as standard practice will give the college an additional tool at its disposal to address its carbon footprint reduction in the future.
There is an opportunity to consider sharing the cost of air travel offsets between the student travelling and the college in order to illustrate the shared responsibility.
To this end, the sustainability office plans to mount a public education campaign to raise understanding of travel associated emission offsets. The need to educate arose out of a study abroad survey for all winter term abroad participants last month. The survey showed that 60% of respondents had no understanding of carbon offsets and nearly 90% of respondents noted that they did not realize options were available to travelers to purchase offsets online at time of ticket purchase (Amtrak, etc). A major thrust of this educational effort will be on the cost. While carbon offsets may sound costly, it really is not on an individual.
Notwithstanding the knowledge gap, carbon offsets enjoy broad support conceptually amongst the students’ surveyed. 60% of respondents were pleased, and 23% expected this proposal to be finally studied.
Regardless of how and where Union plans to undertake air travel offset projects, carbon offsets will be an important component in our carbon neutrality efforts. Examples from other colleges show that carbon offsetting can be implemented in a variety of innovative ways to meet desired outcome, and have consequently made it an integral part of their strategy to meet more aggressive carbon neutrality targets. In the meantime, there are several ways in which students can help in reducing our collective carbon footprint. Students can elect to purchase carbon offsets online per trip and motivate others to do the same. Students should also be knowledgeable on how personal behavior, transportation choices, and daily life impact carbon emissions, and commit to living a less-carbon intense lifestyle.
Because air travel emissions will have a continual impact on climate, investing in carbon offsets must be done year after year in order for Union to make a difference in our sustainability mission. The essence of purchasing carbon offsets is that a small effort can make a big difference in neutralizing our carbon footprint.