Colgate Celebrates Earth Day with 13 Days of Green


University students educate the next generation about sustainability practices and protecting the environment.

Maddie Veronis, Maroon-News Staff

Colgate is currently featuring “13 Days of Green,” which is a sustainability series leading up to Earth Day on April 22. For 13 days, the university will hold thought-provoking and exciting events concentrated around the issues of environmental sustainability.  

Senior Breanna Giovaniello is a Green Raider intern in the Office of Sustainability and has been involved in coordinating the events for 13 Days of Green.

“We have planned a diverse array of events to reflect the interdisciplinary nature of environmental studies and sustainability,” Giovaniello said.

Colgate kicked off the series on Sunday, April 10 with a “bring-your-own-mug afternoon coffee house” to encourage the use of reusable cups instead of disposable styrofoam. The event aimed to create awareness about the importance of recycling and how much styrofoam is used on campus. Styrofoam recycling is ongoing throughout the series and collection bins are in the O’Connor Campus Center (COOP) and Case Library.

The series includes events that cover a wide range of topics such as a Flint Water Crisis discussion, Fair Harbor Interactive Fashion Show, Spring Party Weekend Recycling Fundraiser, a Green Summit Panel Discussion and an Outdoor Education backyard adventure with Director of Sustainability John Pumilio.

13 Days of Green will conclude on Earth Day with the Oak Awards, which will recognize individuals and groups on campus that have made a significant and positive impact on Colgate’s sustainability. The awards show will be held in Ho Atrium on Friday, April 22 at 6:30 p.m. with a provided dinner while special guests give presentations.  

Giovaniello reflected on the Green Summit Panel Discussion, which was held in Golden Auditorium on Tuesday, April 12.

“It was interesting to hear geology professors speak next to geography professors and our Director of Sustainability. We got a bunch of different perspectives and age groups up there voicing their opinion on the matter,” Giovaniello said.

Senior Lindsey Sagasta, also a Green Raider Intern in the Office of Sustainability, talked about the Flint Water Crisis Discussion which was held on Monday, April 11 in the Women’s Studies Lounge.

“The Flint Water Crisis discussion was held in order to merge the voices of both environmental justice and social justice since they have roots in racism and social inequality, which is exacerbated by societal structures and government,” Sagasta said.

The discussion included three alumni from the Lampert Speaker series, Cortney Ahern ’10 from Feeding America, Jen Rusciano ’10 from the Detroit Food Academy and Mark Von Topel ’01 from the Washington, D.C. Department of Human Service.

Sophomore Revée Needham, an Environmental Studies concentrator, shared her opinion on Colgate’s sustainability progress.

“Colgate has come a long way in the short time since adoption of the Climate Action Plan. Carbon emissions were cut with a lot of projects. I’m really excited for the next phase of the Climate Action Plan where sustainability is incorporated into daily life. Raising visibility about what Colgate does is important,” Needham said.

Colgate’s Sustainability and Climate Action Plan recognizes that human consumptive patterns negatively impact ecosystems and biodiversity and can create more situations of environmental hazard. Colgate believes that the advancement of teaching and striving for sustainability is essential to the university’s standing as a top liberal arts institution.

“The Sustainability and Climate Action Plan is a year-by-year road map to advance sustainability and achieve climate neutrality by 2019,” the Executive Summary said.

Pumilio explained that Colgate has reduced its net emissions by over 50 percent and reduced annual expenditures by almost $400,000 since 2011.

Pumilio also discussed the strategy for the next phase in becoming a carbon neutral campus by 2019. 

“We’re trying to integrate sustainability more, which means instead of just the Office of Sustainability and some interns driving the movement, we really want everyone to feel like they’re playing a part. Instead of asking, ‘what’s the Office of Sustainability doing for our goal?’ we want to turn that back around – ‘how am I contributing to Colgate’s goal of carbon neutrality?’” Pumilio said.

The entire Executive Summary and complete report of the outline for achieving climate neutrality by 2019, as well as the developments and progress that have been made can be found on the Colgate website under the section “Sustainability.”

Sophomore Dana Monz explained her concern for climate change and why she chose to be an Environmental Studies concentrator.

“The way I see it, climate change is the most pressing current global issue and has been for a while. I am an environmental studies major because I want to make a difference,” Monz said.

Monz also talked about possible improvements on Colgate’s sustainability actions.

“The sustainability department has made significant strides towards mitigating Colgate’s carbon footprint through the Sustainability and Climate Action Plan. I believe the department could improve on the aspect of education through encouraging more discussion about climate change in and out of classroom. I think it’s unacceptable that at a liberal arts institution, I’ve encountered students who are completely unaware of the extent of these issues,” Monz said.