Sustainability Conference, Pittsburgh

During fall 2011, SMU students are participating in a conference sponsored by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education in Pittsburgh.

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Our responsibility to the Earth

An update from Ashley, a sophomore flute performance and environmental studies major:

The day started off with a keynote speaker, Dr. Timothy White, who talked about the actual meaning of sustainability and how we as a society are influenced and affected by the climate change.  He brought up many valid points, such as how we have this “idea” that the Earth’s resources are “infinite” when they are definitely not.  We have the mindset where we put the responsibility on someone else, like, “Oh well, the next person can take of it, I already do a lot.”

This really hits close to home, because I feel as if most people (including me) have our moments of weakness where we will just let the next person pick up the mess.  But who is really suffering from all of our consequences? Mother Earth.  And she might not have much longer at this rate.

The sessions I attended were all very interesting.  I basically learned how networking and developing partnerships in the sustainable community is imperative.  It not only secures funding, but also creates connections and communities. I also learned how an arboretum on campus could bring so much life, character, and sustainability to a campus.

A session I attended called “Beyond Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” talked about how we as students/people must think beyond the 3R’s – we need to have the awareness beyond just ourselves.  I sat in on a very inspiring session where the school’s sustainability club wasn’t getting funded, so they applied for nonprofit status instead, and now they have their own office and they have control over all their initiatives.

The last three sessions consisted of how to allocate “Green Funds,” or student-initiated fees that were tacked on to the student’s semester tuition.  The students had voted to add the extra $2 fee, and the sustainability office was able to start the year off with a budget of $10,000 to spend on water bottle filtering stations and other green initiatives.  I was so inspired, and I’m definitely looking into this option.

Trane, a company that specializes in  geothermal/solar heating/cooling systems, graciously invited the SMU conference delates out for dinner at a very nice restaurant, Eleven.  We enjoyed chatting and sharing our ideas with them!  Thank you, Trane, for taking us out to dinner!  Can’t wait until tomorrow – we’re going to protest the tar sands pipeline in the morning!

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