A group of students at Quinnipiac are working to change the sustainability on campus, despite the difficulties of students unaware of the issues at hand, according to freshman film major AJ Roberts.
The Students for Environmental Action (SEA), a new Quinnipiac club formed last semester, is working to increase the levels of sustainability practiced on campus. Roberts is the liaison to the QU Sustainability Committee and the New Project Analyst. With these titles, he is accordingly responsible for pushing any new activities on campus to advertise the importance of sustainability.
“Students for Environmental Action is just a group of kids who are trying to fix the school in regards to the way that we recycle, compost and sustainability in general,” Roberts said.
The president of Students for Environmental Action, Sabrina Escobar, has been fundamental in establishing projects and brainstorming creative ways to boost the magnitude of sustainability at Quinnipiac.
“SEA is looking to bring awareness about sustainability,” Escobar said, “get students out there, show them that there are other ways to get involved but it doesn’t have to be tree hugging and all that. It can be disciplinary.”
This past school year, SEA has been collecting wasted food from 11-3 on Tuesdays outside the main campus cafeteria.
Roberts said most of the time the amount of wasted food is around 55 pounds each time, but he distinctly remembers it getting up to 80 pounds another day. In a standard school year, that is more than 10,000 pounds produced by students’ food waste alone.
“We do weigh the waste, and then, all of that food goes into the compost that we have,” Roberts said. “We are trying to expand the compost because it is too small right now and cannot handle all of the food that we waste. And then, long term, we are going to try and start a garden to keep the local sustainability and reusing.”
SEA is having no problems getting their new programs past Quinnipiac staff, Roberts said.
“Faculty are always willing to help,” he continued. “The QU sustainability committee is made up of faculty and they always have great ideas on how to make the school better. I really think there is a lot more acceptance from faculty but getting students on board is the hard part.”
Issues also come to the table when SEA has to incorporate the Chartwells dining hall executives who, as Roberts said, have their own contracts with Pepsi.
“We can’t really get those paper cups gone but we can increase the amount of reusable plates that we have,” Roberts said. “What is really hard to do is get reusable utensils instead of the single use or even compostable ones.”
Despite some of the obstacles that they face, SEA is looking forward to the events they have planned in the next month. Instead of celebrating Earth Day on Monday, April 22nd, SEA is celebrated the following Wednesday, when they know most, to all, of students will have returned from Easter.
“We want as many people to see us as possible,” Roberts said. “It is going to take up a lot of the quad, the piazza, SC 120. It is going to have events, speakers – like student speakers, faculty speakers and outside speakers from different professions – and it is going to try to show people what sustainability looks like, how we are not doing it, and what we have to do.”
The event featured speakers in the student center and vendors in the Quad. Sociology major, Erin LeDrew, sat at the SEA table and encouraged students to recycle.
“I am super passionate aboutthe environment and I went on a study abroad trip that was focused on environmental action in Costa Rica,” LeDrew said. “They have already been doing Earth Day through the QU Sustainability Committee but they wanted to expand it. Since we just started this club, we wanted to have this opportunity to have people know about our club and recruit people.”
The vendors included Uptown Consignment, Kim Palencia, Kennedy’s Kitchen and Thyme & Season. The businesses worked to promote the theme of sustainability, inviting students to purchase renewable items such as clothing and jewelry.
Also available on the Quad were activities for students that would highlight the importance – and fun – of being sustainable.
These activities included planting succulent plants (sponsored by the Student Programming Board), free locally sourced food (sponsored by QU Dining), a table where students could paint positivity rocks and a QU walkway of plastic bags, full of recycled cans and bottles from York Hill residents.
“We created the club because it was so bad that nothing was getting recycled,” Roberts said. “We needed to spread awareness for that, that’s why the club was created.”