BMCC Footprints: Sustainability Fair 2013

Marci Littlefield, Social Sciences

 

How can our college community reduce our carbon footprints and commit to safe environmental practices? On Earth Day, April 22, 2013, more than 400 people gathered at BMCC’s Second Annual Sustainability Fair to discuss, to be informed, and to be educated about these questions.

The variety of booths that filled the Richard Harris Terrace gave BMCC student clubs, local vendors, and community organizers opportunities to display information about and samples of products that promote sustainable living. Activities and exhibits included a mobile solar panel demonstration, samples of organic and locally sourced food, the Early Childhood Center Garden Project, the NYPIRG Campaign on Hydrofracking, and volunteer and employment opportunities.

The event was sponsored by the BMCC Sustainability Committee, the BMCC Sustainability Student Club, the BMCC Association, the BMCC Student Government Association, and BMCC Office of Student Activities. Sustainability Club President, Omar Hammad, and Treasurer, Riddhi Dawer, helped make the event a success. 

Sustainability in Practice

 

Environmental survival was the theme of the event. Our survival and well-being depends on our natural environment. Our current practices as a society have reduced our environmental ability to sustain itself now and for future generations. Sustainability in practice means making a real commitment to healthy life habits, which protect and sustain the environment rather than destroy it.

The Sustainability Fair testified to BMCC’s commitment to raising awareness of sustainability.

Vice President of Administration and Planning, Scott Anderson, kicked off the event with opening remarks. A host of speakers added to the plethora of ways to think about and practice sustainability.

Featured Speaker, Oscar Gonzalez, founder of “Clean the World,” discussed his organization, which recycles soap and lotions from major hotels and ships them to developing countries. “Clean the World” gives personal hygiene products, including soap, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and washcloths to people in developing countries. This contributes to world health while recycling items that would have been thrown away. “Recycling soap, saving lives” is the motto of Clean the World.

Featured Speaker, Hajir Alttahir, postgraduate student of Architecture and Urbanism at the Manchester School of Architecture, discussed sustainable urban planning. Ms. Alttahir’s work has been published in ARUP’s Resilient Cities Scoping Study and Magazine on Urbanism.

Neil Richardson, Program Manager of the CUNY Sustainability Project, provided an overview of his organization’s work in mapping solar panels throughout the city.   

Lisa Bloodgood, founder of the Sustainability Club and former BMCC student, contributed a warm welcome and her continued support of sustainability efforts at BMCC.

Educational Resources

Solar panel demonstrations and recycling stations were on the scene. Other booths exhibited information on healthy exercise programs, and resources on farmers markets, and community gardens. At the “Early Childhood Center Garden Project,” students were giving away herb plants. Information about green buildings was available. For those who are interested in making their homes more environmentally efficient, New York City has resources. Green Mountain Renewable Energy provided handouts and pamphlets about energy saving techniques such as Energy Star appliances and upgrades that can cut utility bills and save users hundreds of dollars yearly.

The booth hosted by the NYPIRG Campaign on Hydrofracking invited participants to sign protest lists, volunteer in the campaign against hydrofracking, and write letters to representatives. Hydrofracking is the process that oil and gas industry uses to extract natural gas and oil from shale rock formations buried deep in the earth. NYPIRG provided information on the way hydrofracking threatens New York’s famers markets, community supported agriculture, and locally grown produce and food products.

Tasty Options

The food tasting booths that filled one side of the room boasted a variety of organic, safe, and delicious eating choices from vendors including Nature Boy Foods and Kettle Cuisine. Vegetarian chicken salad, tuna salad, and eggless egg salad sandwiches from Nature Boy Foods were offered to attendants. Other vegetarian choices included black bean burgers and edamame pot stickers. The Kettle Cuisine tasting station featured chicken and tomato soups, and lentil stew made from locally grown sources in the Northeast.

An Array of Choices

Posters highlighted “Where Does Your Trash Go.” Films on Loop at computer stations included Fast Foods Nation, Tapped, and In Search of Good Food.

The survey “What is BMCC Doing” added to the array of choices available at the Fair. Students from my Sociology 100 Learning Community class helped participants navigate the BMCC survey, which drew nearly 300 respondents. All survey completers received a Metro Card.

BMCC’s Sustainability Fair was an exciting and important way to help us understand sustainability and think about ways to make it part of our everyday lives as a campus community and as individuals.

 

Additional Information: Ways that You Can Make a Difference

 

v    Use energy efficient appliances. Energy efficient appliances use 2 to 10 times less energy for the same level of performance.

v    Line dry clothes. Line drying clothes saves carbon dioxide.

v    Use compact fluorescent bulbs. Compact fluorescent bulbs use four times less energy than incandescent bulbs.

v    Eat less meat. A plant-based diet is less land and energy intensive than a diet high in meat, seafood, and dairy. Meat production drives deforestation and requires high amounts of energy for processing, packaging, and transportation. Fruits and vegetables grown from local sources are one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprints because they cause less stress on the environment.

v    Use green biodegradable cleaning products.

v    Reduce water consumption.