Fordham, You’re Trash!
By Selin Berberoglu
Walking past the garbage cans in “Dagger John’s” yields an unseemly sight: unlabeled holes in countertops stuffed with recyclables and garbage in a chaotic blend. One look around and you instantly realize, there are no recycling bins in a dining area in which a majority of food and beverages are served out of plastic and paper containers. You walk upstairs to the caf, meeting a friend to binge on whatever delicacies Aramark prepares for the day, and you notice something even more disconcerting than stir-fry chicken mixed with melted acai slush; the dishwashers are down, so the caf is using plastic plates, forks, and knives with garbage cans strewn about the room.
At this moment, Fordham University is known for a few things: a meager football team, a strange conglomeration of bars with suspiciously sticky floors, and a lack of accountability and follow-through when it comes to sustainability.
The last point may not be as obvious to many at our school, but it’s become very apparent to Fordham’s Sustainability Committee. The on-campus organization, headed this year by sophomore Gabby Perez, has made waves in promoting a sustainable culture at Fordham. Fordham’s Sustainability Committee guides our campus to a greener path by encouraging both Fordham’s students and its administration to remind that sustainability no longer optional.
Talking with some members involved on the committee gave me some better insight as to what Fordham does to ensure that they’re making choices with the environment in mind. Alex Sottile (Fordham ‘19) has been an active member of the Sustainability Committee, colloquially known as “SusCom,” since her sophomore year. Sottile shared her experiences on the committee and wear she feels Fordham is lacking:
“I definitely think being a part of SusCom has made me realize the power that students have this false conception that the university handles these matters and [that] what they do is the final world. In reality, students have the power to push for these sustainable features on campus.”
And right she is. Sustainability Committee has become the driving force behind making Fordham environmentally-aware. Did you know that recycling bins weren’t a common feature around Eddie’s Parade until just a few years ago? SusCom pressured the administration through student-run petitions and awareness campaigns to install bins all over campus that finally gave students the opportunity to reduce their trash.
You can see another recent change in Hughes: Battery recycling bins can be spotted by their infamous blue color in the lobby.
As a university, Fordham does take steps to make environmentally friendly efforts, like its new solar panel expansion to offset 20% of the university’s energy consumption, or switching all the lights in the dorms to LEDs. But while these efforts seem to curb some of the student’s complaints regarding Fordham’s lack of sustainability, it’s not enough. Alex sheds some light on why she thinks Fordham is falling behind:
“Sustainability takes a back seat; it’s placed on the back burner. We’re slowly approaching a time where this cannot be the case anymore. This has to be on the forefront of issues, especially for universities in urban settings. Slowly, these changes are happening, but it all boils back down to how universities are functioning as a business.”
SusCom’s president, Gabby Perez, tells us exactly why the committee is vital to Fordham, “Our job is us screaming at administration to care about sustainability.“
Gabby states, “We need to stop pretending that we, as a species, live apart from the earth. This is where we live and we need to care about it.”
For those looking to care about our lovely earth, here are some seemingly-cliché changes you can make:
The simple act of carrying a reusable water bottle and a tote bag on your person saves 1,460 plastic bottles every year and 22,000 plastic bags over a lifetime. That means there’ll be one less bottle in the ocean for a fish to consume, and one less bag to end up in the belly of a shark. And we know you totally saw that video with the plastic straw and the turtle.
Keep an eye out for the Sustainability Committee’s “Product of the Month!” They’ll be shouting out one environmentally friendly product every month and selling it in the McGinley Lobby.
Although the future of our planet may seem bleak at times, there are so many things that you as an individual can do. Taking hints from SusCom & Fordham, small incremental changes can lead to big ones over a lifetime and reduce the amount of waste in the world by a large chunk. Above all else, don’t be complacent and assume that your university is simply taking steps to be more sustainable and help the environment. Be aware and demand that the institutions that you are a part of make changes to better the world for you and all that come after.