Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College's student newspaper

The Berkeley Beacon

EDITORIAL: Making changes before the climate does


At issue: Student engagement with sustainability

Our take: We must do more

Over a week ago, the New York Times detailed a seemingly apocalyptic future, with worsening food shortage, rampant poverty, and intensified natural disasters. The article cites a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that claimed dire consequences if current cultural and economic practices remain the same.

While this is horrifying, and even the most hopeful optimists possess a startling brand of cynicism around the topic, we can’t rely on the government and politicians to fix everything. While The New York Times states the coal industry is considered detrimental to the Earth, that doesn’t mean we, as students, can’t do our part. If politicians will continue to disappoint us, we must take matters into our own hands, even if it doesn’t seem like much.

A recent article from the Beacon revealed that last year Emerson “had a recycling rate of 12 percent and a composting rate of 14 percent” even though RecycleMania estimated 63 percent of our waste was compostable or recyclable. The blame, as the article states, fell not as much on the administration as it did the student population.

Although Emerson’s recycling rate increased to 20 percent this year, according to Sustainability Committee Co-chair Duncan Pollock, there is still ample room for improvement regarding sustainability on students’ behalf.

It’s time students make a considerable effort to participate in the sustainability goals on campus. The college has different organizations and programs—Earth Emerson, Eco Reps, and Green Room Certification are just some resources—in place to try to lessen their environmental impact. But students seem removed from these issues, indifferently placing responsibility in the hands of these organizations.

Students must hold each other accountable. If someone improperly trashes their waste, confront them. If your friend mentions something uninformed, let them know. Think about what to recycle and throw away. Share articles like the New York Times’ piece on your social media. And encourage everyone you know to do the same. We will only meet sustainability goals if students push each other to participate in these efforts and ensure their contributions last.

Environmental sustainability is not a “niche” concept. It affects everyone, and we can all do our part. The forecast may look grim, but we still have to live on this planet, and we should do everything we can to protect it.

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