Earth Day is often used as a reminder to increase environmental awareness, but going green is not the greatest move in supporting our environment, according to professor Tim Delaney.
For Oswego State students living in the dormitories, recycling is required. As for The Village residents, recycling is encouraged, but not individually monitored, Village director Rafael Villamil wrote in an email. The Village concentrates on having students live in an independent manner including recycling, “by the understanding that it is the socially responsible thing to do,” Villamil said.
All over campus there are multiple large containers indicating separate, specific drop-ins for waste, plastics and paper. In some areas of the campus, instead of the large and bulky grey containers, the school is implementing recycling vessels, for plastics and paper separately, made out of cardboard with a little more color and design to stick out more. The same system is used in all of The Village townhouses where each apartment has a separate container for plastics and paper. The significance of separating reduces contamination and health risks, especially for workers in recycling facilities.
But going outside to the back of the parking lots where the recycling dumpsters are located reads, “Do not separate any recyclables,” which forces Village residents to mix the recyclable materials. Oswego County, who handles recyclables from the campus, required separation of materials when the containers for The Village were ordered.
“Soon after that, the county changed their processing system and was able to accept mixed recyclables,” Villamil said.
But the question of why new separation containers are being ordered remains.
The Village townhouses were also built using environmentally-friendly materials including the paint, insulation and siding. The apartments include a cooling system identical to the one used in Riggs Hall that uses substantially less energy than a normal air conditioner does. Villamil said there have been talks of implementing the system in other buildings in the future.
While recycling, using eco-friendly materials and reducing energy use helps protect the environment, Delaney said that these actions are just a start, and going green” has become a cliché. Environmentally-friendly living is a smaller issue in comparison to concentrating on the real problem: putting pressure on the government.
“Perhaps our biggest contribution toward saving the ecosystem comes in the form of demanding that our political leaders take drastic steps to protect the environment,” Delaney said.
One example of this is Rachel Carson whose book “Silent Springs” brought about regulation of pesticides and the Clean Air Act of 1970. While amendments were made to the act in 1990, the government has only made minor changes. Yet, Delaney says that problems only continue. These include over 150 acres of rainforest, the Earth’s leading source of oxygen, being destroyed “by the minute.” And while 2.4 billion pounds of plastic bottles were recycled in 2008, the recycling rate has remained steady at 27 percent.
“The group’s main goal is for people to understand the changes and advocate any differences they can make,” co-president of Students for Global Change Shane Hillman said.
Oswego students can celebrate the upcoming April 22 Earth Day with the Students For Global Change’s “Earth Week,” which will include an auction for a water filter in Ecuador, talks on bottled water and hydrofracking and live music with food in the quad.