by Oden Taylor
For Amber Chung, sustainability is everything. As an environmental science management major and the student leader of Cal Poly Humboldt’s Green Campus Team, Chung says she has been in love with the environment since she was a kid.
She said watching and reading “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss opened her eyes as a child to the need for sustainability.
“I really saw for the first time like wow, like what we do literally does matter. It can change the whole environment like it did there,” Chung said. “Now that I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that sustainability is such a wide concept, it has to be in everything for everything else to work. If you don’t center sustainability, you’re not really going to get anywhere with anything else, because it’s not going to last long term.”
As a branch of the Office of Sustainability, the Green Campus Team is an organization that consists of five student employees and one staff advisor. Their goal is to encourage everyone on campus to center sustainability in everything they do.
The team provides educational materials and advice for groups on campus on how to be as sustainable as possible while still having fun. In the coming months the team will hold a “Trashion” show where students can create outfits out of trash or other items that were about to be thrown away and a “Weigh the Waste” event to educate the campus community about the effects of food waste.
This semester the Green Campus Team will also relaunch the Green Workplace Assessment Program, including a new sub-program called the Peer To Peer Education Program. Advocates will talk to campus departments and educate them on sustainable practices so they can properly educate their peers.
They will also launch a student version of this program called Equal Reps, recruiting students that live on campus to educate others about living green.
“It would be great if students, before doing any sort of action, just considered the question and the idea of ‘how can what I’m doing be more sustainable?’” Chung said. “How can I do this in a different way?”
Chung said this could mean many different things and will look different for everyone.
“It could mean completely changing what you’re doing. It could be evaluating if you have the capacity to do more sustainable actions because sometimes there just simply isn’t a possibility with other things you have going on,” Chung said.
The Waste Reduction and Resource Awareness Program has brought back the paper towel composting project this semester. WRRAP also gives out composting buckets for on-campus residents, as well as finished compost to anyone who wants it.
“Students should keep an eye out for signs in the restrooms marking which bin is for paper towels and which is for other waste,” WRRAP said in an email to the Lumberjack. “This is a great help when we go to do our final sorting before placing the paper towels in the on-campus industrial composter.”
Chung explained that when planning events the campus should account for sustainability rather than making adjustments later. Chung suggested that the administration should foster an open dialogue with the Office of Sustainability to ensure that they are making the best decisions for the school long-term.
“I think continuing to make sure that [the administration is] keeping sustainability at a forefront rather than an afterthought would be really important for the school,” Chung said. “Especially as we’re making so many big decisions with the new Cal Poly change.”
The Green Campus Team has compiled the Zero Waste Event Certification Checklist of different things to keep in mind when planning an event on campus. The checklist includes helpful sustainability tips, like serving food buffet style in reusable containers and ensuring promotional or advertising materials and decorations are reusable, recyclable or compostable.
The Green Campus Team is currently looking for another student employee as well as experiential interns and volunteers. To learn more follow the Green Campus Team on Instagram @greencampus_humboldt.