Saint Mary's students this fall will explore more earth-friendly alternatives to the cleaning products, plastic bags, paper products and ink currently used by the College. These "green" projects, conducted by participants in "The Environment and Public Policy" course, are part of a growing involvement by students in campus efforts to reduce its environmental impact.
In previous courses, students have conducted campus audits and research projects on paper waste, native plants, grounds maintenance and solid food waste. Last year, students discovered research on the harmful effects of polystyrene products. They found that these products were used regularly by Sodexho, the College food service, so they met with Sodexho's Director Matt Carroll and presented him with some sugar cane-based alternatives. Sodexho has adopted these alternatives insofar as they can, and are looking for vendors who can fulfill the large orders required by the school. Previous efforts resulted in the sale of fair trade coffee at the student union and sweat shop-free apparel at the book store.
In the meantime, the College has been nominated for a 2005 Flex Your Power Award, part of a statewide campaign that encourages the voluntary tracking and reporting of emissions and energy use.
Last spring, Saint Mary's earned more than $150,000 in rebates from local utility companies for making strides in water and energy conservation. Those efforts included the installation of high-efficiency lighting, plumbing retrofits and sewage flow meters.
All of these efforts coincide with the U.N. Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, which began this year and runs through 2014. For more information about campus sustainability efforts, visit: http://sustainsmc.stmarys-ca.edu/
Saint Mary's College of California, founded in 1863, is a residential learning community based in the Catholic, Lasallian and liberal arts traditions. An outstanding faculty brings these traditions to life. The College enrolls 2,440 traditional undergraduates and more than 2,000 students in adult education and graduate programs. The Christian Brothers, the largest teaching order of the Roman Catholic Church, guides the academic growth and spiritual character of the school. Saint Mary's is located in Moraga, 20 miles east of San Francisco.