Going green the smart way

by Beacon Staff • April 16, 2008

But in truth, the college does its fair share of trend-following. Our current involvement in the "green" craze is evidence of this.,Emerson College claims to be independent and immune to norms and pop fads. Perhaps this is true, at least compared to more conventional schools.

But in truth, the college does its fair share of trend-following. Our current involvement in the "green" craze is evidence of this. Going green is all the rage right now.

Home Depot and Wal-Mart offer energy saving appliances, light bulbs and other household materials that help reduce environmental waste. Clorox, among many other leading brands, has released eco-friendly products.

It makes sense that Emerson has joined the fun with complete and utter flair.

Since the current Emerson administration does not much stress environmentalism at the school, the students have decided to make a few changes themselves. However, instead of embracing small, incremental changes, they have attempted widespread changes, only to receive lukewarm results.

Not too long ago, Earth Emerson teamed up with the school's Business Services. They tried to withold, for a time, plastic trays from the dining hall.

Earth Emerson claimed that students waste too much food because they overstuff our trays, and that tray washing uses too much water, electricity and chemicals. An article in The Beacon stated that Emerson was following in the path of other universities, including University of Connecticut.

Here's the main difference between Emerson and UConn: the latter has eight dining halls. Plus, the school's Web site claims that their own version of the experiment was conducted in one of the smallest dining halls.

Emerson, on the other hand, has one tiny DH. At Emerson, in an already-overcrowded dining area, all the experiment managed to do was annoy students. Instead of making one big trip to the kitchen area, students had to elbow one another during three or four trips to get their meals.

Even after the experiment, the campus green movement continued to push. Recently, Emerson Peace and Social Justice asked SGA-recognized organizations to sign a petition to abstain from buying bottled water with their funds because it has been proven to be bad for the environment. The petition didn't pass.

What's getting lost in translation here is the true meaning of green living.

According to Do It Green, an organization based in Minnesota that supports environmentally conscious living, green living is defined as "a lifestyle intended to ensure that one's impact on the environment is as minimal (or as positive) as possible." Green living can and should be achieved at Emerson, but little steps should be taken to solving a big problem. And the administration should lead the way.

Many students share this sentiment. Junior writing, literature and publishing major Jess d'Arbone said that "instead of trying to focus all [their] energy into one huge, inconvenient move, everyone needs to start small." She insisted that students can do their part by turning off the lights when leaving a room, refilling water bottles and using recycle bins. "It's not that hard," she said.

Logically speaking, student groups could continue to buy bottled water for events as long as the facilities had adequate recycle containers.

For a school that has a green certified residence hall, there should be recycle bins next to every garbage can. If SGA groups were to abstain from providing water bottles at events, they would end up serving beverages from plastic or styrofoam cups that just end up getting thrown out. At least plastic bottles can be recycled.

Although the administration needs to make giant strides to allow for a sustainable green environment, Emerson students need to utilize what is already available for green living.

Katherine Mohana, a junior marketing communication major, is an RA in Piano Row. She believes that recycling needs to be stressed among the entire student body.

"Facilities are accessible in the dorms," she said. "Some students don't utilize them."

On the other hand, outside of the residence areas, recycle bins are few and far between. The cafeacute; in the Max doesn't even have recycle bins. The majority of beverages sold there are packaged in either plastic or glass bottles.

Electricity use at the school is also expanding Emerson's environmental footprint. Turning off the many large public televisions around campus now and then would help. The school could even install motion detectors in the academic buildings so that the lights don't have to stay on late at night when no one is in the building.

There is nothing wrong with starting small. Change takes time, and instead of trying to make radical adjustments, we should take small steps to adjust our own lifestyle.

Buy bottled water, but make sure the bottle gets recycled. Don't abuse the thermostat; keep it set at 68 degrees. Going green doesn't have be hard; it just has to be smart.

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Michael Lupacchino is a sophomore marketing communication major and a contributor to The Beacon.