WC students seek increased sustainability efforts on campus

By Nia Anthony

Elm Staff Writer

Since the beginning of the 21st century, Washington College has been attempting to decrease its carbon emissions through the implementation of refillable water stations, composting bins, a bike rideshare program, and campus-wide recycling initiatives. 

WC’s chapter of the Food Recovery Network — a student-led national organization that strives to raise awareness about food waste and feed those in need —  and the plug-in browser UCapture, which students can use to support carbon initiatives while saving money with coupons. 

“Washington College is committed to supporting the health of our planet and the people who inhabit it,” according to the WC website.

The College has a student body that is interested in preserving the planet as well, providing student opportunities focused on developing eco-friendly on and off-campus practices, and is currently pushing towards reducing the amount of carbon produced by the institution towards becoming carbon-neutral, according to the school’s website.

One of the resources used to become carbon neutral is UCapture, a browser that students can use to support carbon initiatives while saving students money with coupons. 

“Generate carbon offsets when making online purchases by installing the UCapture Browser Plugin. Choose what carbon projects to support with your purchases while saving money with automatic coupons,” the WC sustainability page said.

WC’s chapter of the Food Recovery Network serves food to around 100 Chestertown locals weekly, according to the college website. a local chapter which “aspire[s] to grow our volunteer base and explore means of reducing food waste beyond Community Table dinners.”

WC has been vocal about its push to become more eco-friendly and there are several opportunities for students to get involved. 

According to Student Environmental Alliance member Emma Cease, “The student body does a great job of interacting with these sustainability efforts by being conscious of their own waste and energy use.” 

One of Cease’s favorite campus-wide sustainability activities is student donations of dorm supplies they no longer want or need. Those supplies are donated to SEA, who lay them out at the beginning of the next semester for students to take for free.

“I would love to see more people work on reducing their overall waste; it is crazy how much one person can produce in just one day due to our society’s heavy reliance on plastics,” Cease said. “[Instead], try investing in reusable Tupperware containers and silverware, having your own refillable water bottle, and donating items instead of throwing them away. 

“Simply taking the time to sort your trash and recycling what you can is a small action that has a big impact,” she said. 

As a carbon analyst intern for the WC Center for Environment & Society, senior Sarah Polo weighed in on how WC can improve their ever-improving efforts. 

“When it comes to sustainability, there is always room for improvement,” Polo said. “Compared to other colleges, there is a lot more that we can do to implement sustainable practices. Our goal is to become carbon neutral, but we have a long way to go before we can accomplish that.” 

To achieve this goal, Polo suggests increasing participation and intercommunication among the student body, which will help to pressure the WC administration to do more in terms of sustainability. 

“The student leaders of each [environmental] organization have recently created a student-led sustainability committee, [which] will improve our communication with each other so we can maximize our impact on the College,” Polo said. “With more student pressure, our hope is that administration will put more time and money into making WC go green.”  

Though the WC campus community has started to make headway towards complete sustainability, there is still a long way to go; but, by holding the administration and students accountable for our individual and institutional carbon footprint, we can help in saving our corner of the planet. 

Featured Photo caption: To reduce the campus-wide carbon footprint, Washington College has been implementing eco-friendly methods and initiatives to help protect the surrounding environment, and encouraging students to get involved. Photo by Marah Vain Callahan.

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