The Sustainability Committee, organized a few years ago, has had a successful year, with many of the committee’s plans coming into fruition in the last year. “This has probably been the most productive year the committee has ever had,” says Adam Dastrup, Geoscience Coordinator and Chair of the Sustainability Committee.
The Sustainability Committee has three main areas of focus; the Green Academy, the community garden, and the recycling program. With these three programs in motion, Dastrup says the committee will spend time fine-tuning these key areas of focus in the following years.
When Dastrup asks his classes what sustainability is, the resounding answers normally range from solar power, to wind power, to hybrid cars. Admitting all of these answers are correct, sustainability, for Dastrup, is whatever one does to be sustainable.
Sustainability is also a frame of mind for Dastrup.
“It’s a mindset that you want to not take all the earth’s resources,” says Dastrup, “That you want to leave the earth’s resources for future generations.” Dastrup indicates that the idea of sustainability comes from a Native American tribe that believed that your actions today must be able to sustain the next seven generations. “So what you do today, you have to think about seven generations ahead of you to determine what your actions are today.”
The actions Dastrup speaks of today include things like recycling and community gardens. Coupled with the Green Academy, teaching students about sustainability and offering a sustainability certificate, the Sustainability Committee is helping SLCC do its part for the environmental wealth of future generations.
Launched in 2009, Dastrup says, “The Green Academy is an umbrella term for all the green environmental type courses the college offers, whether it be credit or non-credit.” The sustainability certificate offered through the Green Academy can act as a supplement to other majors. For instance, whatever a students chosen discipline, the Green Academy allows students to add a sustainability component to it.
Dastrup believes careers in the field of sustainability and environmental affairs, or the green workforce as he describes, is a wise career move. “Because when we’re moving into the 21st century, we are moving away from…getting outside the politics, things like climate change,” says Dastrup, “The 21st century jobs and workforce and technology are moving into renewable energy.” SLCC offers courses in energy management and digital mapping, along with classes that teach students how to convert normal cars into natural gas cars, to name a few.
In partnership with Wasatch Community Gardens, another initiative launched by the Sustainability Committee is the community garden. Located on the east side of the construction trades building, the community garden will kick-off on Earth Day, Thursday, April 22 from 12 to 2 p.m. The gardens participating clubs and departments will maintain their group’s three by six feet raised gardens beds, donating a portion of their proceeds to the Utah Food Bank.
Dastup hopes to expand the community garden concept to other SLCC campuses, “So they [Wasatch Community Gardens] will help us with one and we can spread from there.”
Dastrup feels a lot of the environmental issues with the planet can be dealt with on a local community garden level. “Much fuel and pollution is required for you to get your banana from Ecuador,” says Dastrup, “And if you can start growing your own food locally, it can be organic, it’s local, your supporting your local farms, the local economy.”
Perhaps the most important aspect of the community garden, as expressed by Dastrup, is the building and coming together of the SLCC community.
“It doesn’t matter where you are in the hierarchy of things, you go to the garden and you get rid of all that stuff,” Dastrup says, “If the president of the college is out there in the garden and there is a student there, they are probably going to talk to each other, ask what you are growing.”
In true “think globally, act locally” fashion, Dastrup feels that many times sustainability can’t be done without community and sometimes believes that building community is the bigger issue.
Recycling is another focus of the Sustainability Committee. Dastrup says for a college the size of SLCC, it was startling that the college didn’t have a strong recycling program. The Student Fee Board recently voted for a re-allocation of student fees, giving the recycling program $1.50 from each student. The sustainability fee will give the recycling program $60,000 per year. With two current positions filled, the recycling program will hire four more positions and purchase a truck to pick-up and transport recyclables.
“The biggest factor with recycling was basically labor…who’s gonna pick it all up,” says Dastrup. The re-allocation of student fees helped solve this problem.
Recycling bins for paper, aluminum, and plastics will be located at every SLCC campus, with several thousand dollars going toward the purchase of new bins. Students looking to do their part need to go no further than a hallway or two away.
Though the Sustainability Committee is comprised of faculty, staff, administrators, along with Student Life and Leadership for student representation, Dastrup advises the best way for students to get involved is through the Environmental Club.
“We’ve had some [environmental clubs] that kind of come and go but this one, created by Brittany Evans, she’s got that group going crazy.” Evans is the President of the Environmental Club. Dastrup reports that Evans attends their meetings and acts as link between the Sustainability Committee and the Environmental Club.
While Dastrup urges everyone to do their own part in terms if energy efficiency, he cautions that it’s important for people to realize they can’t do everything and to not get down on themselves for thinking they aren’t doing enough.
Dastrup recalls the best teacher he ever had, an Ecologist from the University of Utah, giving him advice along these same lines.
“He told me that everyone is a hypocrite. Everyone is a contradiction. Cause you cannot, no matter what your ideal is, no matter what your highest belief is, you can’t live it 100 percent of the time,” says Dastrup, “There will be times that you will fall…so I think it’s always important for people to realize that what you need to do is the best you can.”