October Is Campus Sustainability Month: Help SMC Take Action on Climate Change

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The return of turning leaves and fall breezes is a great reminder that October is Campus Sustainability Month. To honor Saint Mary’s commitment to sustainable living and climate action, the Sustainability Office and Green Gaels have put together a series of events for students and members of the SMC community. Get green, and get involved!

To begin the month, each member of the Sustainability Living Learning Community and the Green Gaels Executive Team will be taking a pledge to reduce their carbon footprint by making one lifestyle change. They are asking members of the campus community to do the same. To make your Pledge for the Planet, swing by the tables in front of Oliver Hall on Oct. 9 at 1 p.m. For some inspiration and ideas, check out these students’ commitments on Instagram, Facebook, and on our sustainability webpage.

Sustainability and Saint Mary’s—with its Lasallian tradition—go hand in hand, as environmental issues strike at the heart of justice and equity concerns. “Climate change will affect the most poor and marginalized, which hits at the heart of the Lasallian mission,” said Sustainability Director Ann Drevno. “If we don’t talk about who will be impacted by climate change, we’re not doing our job as Lasallian educators.”

Drevno and her students hope to create a larger conversation and intercampus dialogue on the climate issues that need to be addressed now. 

“We hope that taking a pledge to reduce your carbon footprint at the individual level will encourage participation in and help kick-start the broader climate action planning process. I have several students committing to meatless Mondays or switching to a plant-based diet for the entire month. These commitments could jumpstart larger conversations about the greenhouse gas emission related to our on-campus food procurement and consumption, for example. We hope to make this process as participatory, inclusive, and transparent as possible, and we know the best way to do that is to spread the word and get stakeholders from across campus involved in the conversation.” said Drevno.

Also on tap this month, the Office of Sustainability in collaboration with Facilities Services, Mitty residents, the Sustainability LLC, the Green Gaels, and the EES Department, plan to hold a Mitty Garden Planting Party on Oct. 12, at 10 a.m. “Some may have noticed the bioswale installed next to Mitty Residence Hall last year—this design helps slow stormwater runoff and filter pollutants through natural processes. To complement this landscape feature, we will be planting drought-tolerant plants to save water and resources.” said Drevno. All are invited to join the fun.

The Sustainability Committee has also begun the process of developing the College’s inaugural Climate Action Plan (CAP). A CAP begins with an inventory of the College's past greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and follows with a plan for reducing those emissions by a given timeframe. To ensure that this process is as inclusive and participatory as possible, the entire campus community is invited to provide feedback throughout the planning process, beginning with two campus-wide town hall meetings at the following times and locations. Please mark your calendars. 

  • Tuesday, Oct. 22, at 11 a.m., in Hagerty Lounge
  • Wednesday, Nov. 20, at 1 p.m., in Delphine Lounge

Over 400 Colleges and Universities throughout the country have implemented Climate Action Plans at their institutions, and many are on their second or third iteration. The goal of a Climate Action Plan at Saint Mary’s is to achieve the largest and most cost-effective GHG emissions reduction.

Learn more about Pledge for the Planet, the Sustainability Report, Greening Our Campus, and the Green Gaels Student Club on the website.