Sustainability as a Student: How It’s Possible

Eco Alliance grows seeds in the greenhouse on campus to be transferred to the SUNY Microfarm. Photo Courtesy of Virginia Clifford

Even though the legendary Punxsutawney Phil arose from his burrow seeing his shadow, it hasn’t felt like six more weeks of winter here in New Paltz. The weather has been all over the place. Some days I literally dread trying to leave my apartment to walk to class, but on others, a nice brisk stroll seems like the perfect start to my day. I love these warmer days. I can feel the sun’s rays hug my skin, energizing every cell in my body. I’m so excited for this winter to end and warm days become the new normal. While it’s always important to be mindful of your choices, the springtime always reminds me of the importance nature has to offer. 

Sustainability can sometimes feel overwhelming. We constantly hear headlines referring to how the changes humans cause to the planet will be irreversible in the next 50 years or so, but it’s important to remember that fixing the environment doesn’t come down to the individual. “I’m not a big fan of individualization when it comes to sustainability. I think that the little things that you can ensure that you’re doing is just trying to mitigate the amount of waste that you’re creating on this planet,” explained Christopher Card, SUNY New Paltz environmental studies major alum.

Some helpful day-to-day tips that are important to remember are:

Always opt for reusable. 

Remember to bring reusable items like water bottles and shopping bags when you’re going out or running errands. “I started bringing my own little container places when I know that there’s going to be food or leftover food at events and parties. Just ensure that the amount of food that you’re making for yourself each day or that you’re taking from the Dining Hall is the amount that you’re going to eat,” said Card. The campus offers a reusable container service called the WasteWatch REUSE, where students living on-campus receive a green container to use for their on campus dining that can be recycled for a new one as needed. Faculty and students who live off-campus can enroll in the program as well by making a one time purchase of $5. The program was created to help cut down the use of single use plates, cultery, and cups.

Be a conscious consumer.

Where we shop and what we buy can accumulate a lot of waste. If we know that we are going to be making multiple recurring purchases, try to buy the products in bulk. Accumulation of individual wrappers and items can create an excess amount of waste rather than buying the product all at once. Shops in New Paltz have been opening up offering bulk-refill options like the Second Nature Refillery and Black Cat Bulk Goods.

Get involved with on-campus sustainability.

If you are interested in growing food but feel like you can’t in your tiny dorm, New Paltz has a sustainable micro farm where students can see the process of plants growing from seed to harvest in a no till, organic method. Card explains that, “Just doing the little things to educate yourself and most importantly, if you’re interested in things on campus, to reach out to Lisa Mitten and the sustainability office and the sustainability ambassadors at SUNY New Paltz. They’re doing amazing work. They’d love to meet with you, they’d love for you to join. It changed my life.”

All in all, it’s hard to be perfect. Card later goes on to say that “What really matters is that we’re trying to make a difference. We have to be conscious about our purchasing, who we’re voting for and what organizations we’re supporting, what celebrities we’re continuing to allow to be famous. Using our voices and our power to ensure that things are changing on the macro scale, while also doing the little things at home to ensure that we’re changing our own personal lifestyles.” 

About Kenny Nohavicka 23 Articles
Kenny Nohavicka (They/Them) is a fourth year digital media management major from Westchester, NY. They have been writing for the Oracle since they transferred to SUNY New Paltz in Spring 2021. When they’re not writing, Kenny can be found shopping on Main st, dancing to Katy Perry, or doom scrolling through Instagram.