EVAN TURIANO ’16
On Trinity’s campus, and across the world, people will celebrate Earth Day on April 22 in hopes of raising awareness for various environmental issues. Earth Day has been celebrated annually since 1970. According to Earth Day’s official website, environmental activists participating in Earth Day events seek to “inspire, challenge ideas, ignite passion, and motivate people to action.” In recent years, college campuses across the country, including Trinity, have held numerous Earth Day events.
The centerpiece of environmental action on campus is the Trinity College TREEhouse. The TREEhouse (Trinity Recreation and Environmental Education) is a cultural house located at 125 Allen Place that houses the outdoors and environmentally themed clubs on campus—the Outdoors Club, the Rock Climbing Club, and Green Campus. The TREEhouse will be celebrating Earth Week with the culmination of their lecture series. The TREEhouse hosted a six-lecture series this spring; the next lecture is this Tuesday, April 19th at 5pm, Field Hockey Coach Anne Parmenter will present “Lessons from the Ledge: An Everest Experience” based off her own experiences climbing Mount Everest. The following day, Wednesday, April 20th, Recreation Director Kevin Johnson will deliver a lecture titled “Persistence: North America’s Hardest Sandstone Rock Climb.”
Over the past several years, the College has undertaken a wide range of noteworthy environmental and sustainability-centered initiatives during Earth Week. In 2007, the College signed the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment. This program has been taken up by over 600 colleges and universities across the country, and is committed to short- and long-term climate and sustainability improvements and to increase transparency about sustainability issues. Through the program, the College has created a Sustainability Task Force. The Task Force has begun taking annual Greenhouse Gas and Carbon Foot-print Inventories, established long term plans for reducing energy use and waste production, worked to install energy-efficient appliances, and has encouraged ride-sharing and other sustainable practices among students.
Many of the more recent sustainability efforts on campus can be credited to Vanja Babunski ’18, who has worked at facilities provider, Aramark, as a Sustainability Coordinator at Trinity. Her primary goal has been to inform students about environmental consciousness and energy conservation on campus. She is part of the Sustainability Task Force, and recently directed and produced a short movie that highlights conservation efforts on campus and ways in which students can participate.
There is still a tremendous amount of work to be done by the college and the student body, in order to make campus more sustainable and environmentally conscious. Sophomore Isabelle Moore, President of Green Campus, describes a “lack of engagement and general attitude of apathy towards issues of sustainability” on campus. Despite the ease and convenience of single-stream recycling on campus, much of the student body disposes of waste thoughtlessly, leaving Trinity with extremely poor recycling and composting records.
Furthermore, food waste at Mather and the other dining locations of campus is incredibly excessive; students are working to address these problems. Babunski adds that “Students are not informed about [sustainability efforts on campus]” and notes that Trinity has fallen behind “in comparison to other to other NESCAC and Ivy [League] schools.”
However, this type of change will not come without proactive engagement from the student body. Students need to show the administration that Trinity is made up of engaged, aware students. This begins with simple steps: request a recycling bin from Facilities for your dorm, and recycle whenever you can across campus. Only take as much food from Mather as you plan on eating. We are blessed to live on a campus that features clean, delicious tap water, so save your Bantam Bucks and fill up a reusable bottle rather than continually buying disposable plastic bottles. Little steps such as these can make big strides towards building a campus culture of sustainability, which can be leveraged to influence the administration into taking larger steps towards making Trinity a more environmentally friendly campus.
Whether by becoming more conscious of their own environmental footprint, or by appreciating the outdoors, there are many ways students can become involved with Earth Week on campus. Involvement can be as simple as tracking down a recycling bin in the library for your Peter B’s iced coffee cup rather than tossing it in the trash. It can also be a rewarding opportunity to get involved in new ways on campus. Students who want to catch a riveting adventure story can stop by the TREEhouse for Tuesday or Wednesday’s lectures, both at 5pm. The Outdoors Club is hosting an overnight trip to Franconia Notch to celebrate Earth Week; President Jessica Voight ’17 can be reached for further details. Lastly, the best and easiest way to appreciate Earth Week is by getting out of the library and enjoying the beautiful weather this week, whether by going on a hike with friends or simply passing time on the quad.