By Mai Do
Elm Staff Writer
Earlier this semester, the Student Government Association announced the introduction and improvement of several environmental initiatives on the Washington College campus.
Changes include the installation of electric vehicle charging stations, the first-year water bottle initiative, the installation of eight new water bottle refill stations, the renewal of the Bike Share program, and the introduction of a discount on coffee and tea at Java George for students using reusable mugs.
In association with Tesla, the Center for Environment and Society is in the process of installing electric vehicle charging stations. Current charging station locations include the parking lot next to Cecil, Dorchester and Talbot House.
According to the WC website, the first-year water bottle initiative provides freshmen with reusable water bottles to mitigate plastic waste. Since the creation of the Student Environmental Alliance and SGA collaboration with the Back to Tap committee in 2016, environmental initiatives on campus have largely focused on ways students can cut back on waste produced from single-use plastic water bottles.
“We encourage students to use refillable water bottles over disposable, plastic bottles by giving the first-year class a free, reusable water bottle and have helped install more refillable water stations on campus,” said SEA President Rose Adelizzi, a senior. “We are on our third year of giving away reusable water bottles.”
“The first-year water bottle initiative sets a tone of environmental consciousness from the minute students step on campus,” SGA Secretary of Environmental Affairs Samantha Howell said. “We want to promote a healthy lifestyle that keeps students thinking about ways they can help save our planet.”
The eight new water bottle refill stations have been installed in the Cain Gym, the Cain locker room area, the Johnson Fitness Center weight room, the first floor of Daly Hall, the Gibson Center lobby, the second floor of Cromwell Hall, the second floor of William Smith Hall, and the ground floor of Goldstein Hall.
The reusable bottles, in conjunction with the bottle refill stations, have saved thousands of single-use plastic water bottles, according to the counters on refill stations across campus.
“By giving out reusable water bottles, we significantly cut down on single-use plastic waste while encouraging first-years to incorporate environmentally-friendly practices into their daily lifestyles,” Howell said.
These new projects are additions to current environmental programs on campus spearheaded by the SEA. The organization participates in the Food Recovery Network as a chapter, taking unserved leftover food from the dining hall and re-serving it at local churches. The club also has a recycling partnership with Buildings and Grounds to collect plastic caps and turn them into recycled plastic benches.
“Last time I weighed the caps, we were about 20 percent towards our goal – but we haven’t checked how much was collected this summer,” Adelizzi said.
As environmental initiatives on campus ramp up, the SEA continues to engage in awareness and activist campaigns.
“SEA members have participated in #NoDAPL, Citizen’s Climate March and other actions, and we attended the Festival for Change: Climate, Jobs and Justice in Baltimore a few weeks ago,” Adelizzi said. “We’ve been in contact with Citizens Climate Lobby and their bipartisan effort to implement a carbon fee and dividends legislation.”
Currently, the SEA’s activism committee is organizing a lobby effort for the carbon tax and planning events for World Environmental Health Day.