On Wednesday, if you happened to be inside the Campus Center at lunchtime, you may have seen a bucket of compost and tub of beer cheese on display outside the Everyday Cafe and wondered what these two things had to do with one another or campus in general. The answer? A celebration of Campus Sustainability Day, a day of events and activities on college campuses across the country that are working to become more environmentally friendly.
While Campus Sustainability Day activities are sponsored by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), one of the driving forces behind Centre’s sustainability expo was Greg Nicaise ’14, a member of the Centre Environmental Association (CEA). Nicaise and several other students manned the CEA table during the expo, talking to interested students about how to get involved in campus sustainability activities and events.
The table also included a Green Pledge, authored by Griffin Cote ’16, that students could sign as a way of solidifying their commitment to sustainable practices while studying at Centre.
Representatives from the President’s Climate Commitment Advisory Committee (PCC) were also present with displays and information about current and future sustainability efforts.
“The PCC is directed at minimizing campus greenhouse gas emissions, with the ultimate goal of achieving climate neutrality,” said John C. Walkup Professor of Chemistry and Chair of PCC Preston Miles. “We’re here on Campus Sustainability Day to increase students’ awareness of where our greenhouse gas emissions are coming from. Hopefully once students know some of our main sources of emissions, they can make changes in their own lives that can help reduce these emissions.”
The PCC table included several graphs and tables that explained campus emission sources and amounts, as well as a bright blue bucket of the Campus Center’s first vintage of compost for the semester, the result of a brand new sustainability project. Thanks to an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant, Centre received two composting bins that will process all pre-consumer waste that goes through Cowan, producing enough compost to meet most of the landscaping needs on campus.
Also in attendance was Beth Bissmeyer, a member of the Wilderness Trace chapter of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth (KFTC), an organization dedicated to protecting Kentucky’s land, water and people. The Wilderness Trace chapter, which is just over one year old, includes Boyle, Mercer, Lincoln and Garrard counties.
In an effort to get more student involvement from Centre, the Wilderness Trace chapter held its first meeting on campus earlier in October. The booth on Wednesday was another opportunity for KFTC to let students know about how they can get involved in solving important sustainability issues in Kentucky, particularly reducing mountaintop removal practices and investing in clean energy.
A relatively new campus group, Centre Fair Food (CFF), made an appearance as well, luring students to its table with locally-produced salsa and beer cheese.
“We’re interested in the ethical and sustainable ways food can be produced and harvested,” said Garric Buzzard ’15, president of CFF. “Students don’t always think about these things, they just go and eat whatever is in the dining hall.”
CFF Treasurer Michael Yu ’15 echoed these sentiments, explaining, “Many students like the idea of eating more sustainable, local food, but they don’t always have the knowledge or time to pursue these things. We’re trying to make it easier for students to do this.”
Garric mentioned that Sodexo Dining Services has made great strides in the past few years to include more “Kentucky Proud” food products in its daily offerings, which gives students more of an understanding of where their meals come from.
CFF’s future projects include hosting a Farm to Cafeteria Banquet in partnership with CEA. The banquet would provide all local options, including products from the nearby Marksbury Farm market, which produces local, humanely-slaughtered meats and other food products.
Centre Peace, a student organization dedicated to educating the Centre community on issues related to war, violence and injustice (many of which are related to sustainability), also hosted an informational booth.
Ultimately, Wednesday’s activities reminded students that sustainability is a priority for Centre students and that there are many different ways to become involved in campus sustainability efforts.
“The expo is a great way to promote sustainability on campus,” said Nicaise. “We wanted to give as many campus clubs as possible the chance to participate, and for the expo to be a chance for students to see ways that they can get involved with sustainability on campus.”
By Mariel Smith