Student Clubs Promote Environmental Initiatives on Campus
The Green Club has taken on gardening, composting and planting projects, while JustPeace has worked to bring fair trade products to campus and provide education about environmental issues that impact human rights.
The College’s Green Club launched in 2011 as an active student organization that seeks to educate members about environmental issues and topics of conservation through events, discussions and volunteer opportunities.
In addition to maintaining the rooftop and East Hill gardens, the Green Club was busy this semester planting daffodils throughout campus and the neighborhood on behalf of Project Daffodil to honor those who died on Sept. 11.
In early October, the Green Club visited the Science Barge in Yonkers, N.Y., which is doing cutting-edge work in zeroimpact hydroponic gardening. Members also attended the Amp Up Environmental Summit, a free environmental youth conference in October, and along with students from the Government department and Environmental Studies program, participated in an educational walk on the Croton-Aqueduct Trail in September.
The Green Club also started small-scale composting beside the East Hill garden, which consists mainly of garden waste with NYC Compost Project in the Bronx. This initiative began with the help of Margaret Groarke, Ph.D., associate professor of government, who put Green Club president Nathan Hunter ’13 in contact with NYC Compost Project, which is funded and managed by the Department of Sanitation’s Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse and Recycling and hosted at the New York Botanical Garden.
“In the near future, we plan on doing an audit on waste streams and look to divert compostables from entering the landfill,” says Hunter. “We are officially designated as a community compost site, meaning we are able to get advice from a contact and are able to have them assist in development and expansion of future composting decisions.”
As part of a joint partnership between the Green Club, the Arches (a freshman learning-living program) and Van Cortlandt Park, members of the Green Club were trained in November by gardeners to identify invasive species and techniques for forest management in the wetlands area of the park. The partnership permits members to maintain the area of the park long-term, and also opens up an ongoing project for the Manhattan College community.
The student organization JustPeace also works to spread awareness and take action on social issues worldwide, such as fair trade practices, and was established in 2005 thanks in a large part to Groarke and Lois Harr, director of Campus Ministry and Social Action, assistant to the vice president for student life, and adjunct instructor of religious studies.
JustPeace was instrumental in helping the College become the first Fair Trade Certified College in New York City and the fifth in the nation earlier this year. The Manhattan community is dedicated to globally reducing poverty and building sustainable businesses by carrying fair trade products within all campus dining halls, restaurants, cafes and the bookstore.
“In the spring of 2007, members of JustPeace collected more than 80 comment cards asking for fair trade coffee and delivered them to Sodexho [the College’s former dining provider] and that led to Manhattan having fair trade coffee that fall,” Harr explains. “Members took the lead on the initiative from attending fair trade conferences, by giving away free samples, asking the bookstore about fair trade options, and holding fair trade events, such as desserts, tastings and a Jeopardy game.”
Members of JustPeace worked closely with the Fair Trade Steering Committee this October to plan various activities in honor of Fair Trade month. The different events included weekly fair trade banana desserts in the dining hall and giving out chocolate samples at Halloween.
They also held a video screening of Sun Come Up, an awareness film about the first environmental refugees that focuses on the effect of global warming on the Carteret Islands.
“Another educational awareness campaign we will be working on this semester is with water,” says Kathleen White ’14, current president of JustPeace and a double major in history and peace studies. “Although we have many events on the human rights side of it, we will also focus on the environmental side and lack of water in the world.”