Lucas Rondan: Advocating for Sustainability On and Off Campus

Heather Holm, Staff Writer

Current senior and environmental studies concentrator Lucas Rondan never misses an opportunity to bring the lessons he’s learned in the classroom into his real life. The Los Angeles native has done extensive work within Colgate’s various groups for environmental action and sustainability, including Students for Environmental Action (SEA) and the Office of Sustainability.
“Sustainability has always been something that’s been important to me,” said Rondan. “Once I’m working on it on my own and putting the initiatives out through the office I’m able to see how behaviors are changing amongst students but also how excited people get about sustainability.”
Rondan first became involved with sustainability work at Colgate through an internship with the Office of Sustainability last summer. He committed to a full 40 hour work week, spending half of his time in the Colgate community garden and the other half in the office.
One of the initiatives Rondan has worked on through his position with the Office of Sustainability is the Green Bikes Program, a bicycle rental program that provides Colgate community members an eco-friendly mode of transportation around campus and surrounding areas.
“We are currently finishing up our last green bikes pickup starting next week. We have a few projects we’ve been working on that we hope to finish by the end of the semester such as acquiring more bikes, looking into getting baskets and fixing the rest of the bikes so they are ready for the summer season. Other than that, we have already set up our green bikes website and email — [email protected] — to help students learn more about the program and communicate directly to us,” Rondan explained.
Rondan is also involved with the Office’s Climate Conversations Committee, which offers a class for PE credit to learn more about sustainability, climate change and climate action. On top of promoting transit alternatives and providing educational opportunities for students, Rondan shared that the Office of Sustainability is working on lowering the uptick in mail package waste resulting from increased online shopping during the pandemic.
“Now that COVID is coming a little bit towards an end, package ordering or waste has not decreased — it’s actually stayed about the same. So, we’d like to try to figure out new ways for people to shop locally, try to reuse things, maybe create some kind of store so students can buy clothes and other dorm essentials without having to shop through Amazon,” Rondan said.
The issue of single-use packaging waste also extends to Colgate Dining, as the O’Connor Campus Center (Coop) and Chobani Cafe locations rely on plastic to-go boxes to serve meals. The Coop does not have a washer for dishes and dining services has to transport all of the dishes to Frank Dining Hall in order to be washed. Roadblocks like these mean that the office is still looking into solutions for more sustainable ways to contain food in to-go orientated dining spots. In light of these challenges, the office has been successful in launching a reusable utensil kit program
“We’ve been able to give out over 100 utensil kits to students on campus who have wanted them,” Rondan said.
Rondan’s environmental work on campus has led to opportunities outside of campus, too, extending his impact to the greater Hamilton area.
“Through a class I was able to take last semester called ‘Food’ … we were able to volunteer through Common Thread as well as through my sustainability internship during the summer,” said Rondan.
Common Thread is a farm located just outside of Madison that specializes in sustainable farming methods and community supported agriculture, a model that fosters direct connection between farmers and community members.
While Rondan’s time at Colgate is nearing a close, he hopes that the sustainability work he’s contributed to the university remains.
“I hope … future students here at Colgate [will] be able to access the resources that we have and that our office can really grow and provide sustainability to this campus.”