Earth Day is every day at Anoka-Ramsey Community College
April 20, 2018
Ask Anoka-Ramsey Community College Anthropology instructor and co-chair for the college’s Sustainability Committee, Lisa Becker or President of the Student Sustainability Club, Paige Hanson, what the college to celebrate Earth Day, and both will likely tells you: Every day is Earth Day at the Coon Rapids Campus.
“The Coon Rapids Campus is an active member of the Upper Midwest Association for Campus Sustainability (UMACS),” said Becker. “We are the only community college with representatives on the steering committee. Last fall, four of our faculty members presented an overview of our work at the UMACS Sustainability Conference. We also have a student member on the UMACS Student Committee and an additional student who attended the conference.”
Speaking about activities of the student Sustainability Club, Hanson has a lot to say.
“We have been working to get students involved in sustainability projects, such as marches for science and climate change; making eco-friendly laundry detergent; creating bee-balls―balls of clay with seeds that sprout to feed the bees―and collecting plastic bags for Weaving for Love, which makes sleeping mats for the homeless,” said Hanson.
The Sustainability Club has also been responsible for obtaining and placing recycling bins throughout the Coon Rapids Campus, organizing tours of the local recycling plant, and bringing to campus the Sunrise Movement, a national group dedicated to educating students about legislation that impacts the environment. Through these activities, club members share ways students can get involved to make positive change.
Hanson, who will complete her general education courses at Anoka-Ramsey next year, plans to become a marine biologist. Along with the club, she is currently planning an Earth Day event, including more tours of the recycling plant, sustainability panels with various speakers, and an Adopt-A-Reusable-Water-Bottle program. The program would allow club members to collect reusable water bottles in the lost-and-found from area health clubs and offer the bottles to students to adopt and use.
“Paige has a passion for this work,” said Becker. “The Sustainability Club has been reinvigorated with her energy.”
With the success of the faculty-led efforts to raise awareness about composting and recycling that started in the spring 2017, the Sustainability Committee was a catalyst for change at Anoka-Ramsey. The sheer amount of materials being recycled prompted the Facilities Department to increase the pick-up of organics recycling from once a week to three times a week, and decrease trash pick-up from five times per to three.
The Sustainability Committee estimates that these effort will divert 52,800 pounds of compostable material from landfills and save more than 900,000 sheets of paper every year.
The committee also helped establish requirements for the college’s next dining contract, including the use of all compostable materials, and arranged for a bike repair station to be installed on the Coon Rapids Campus this spring. The station will be available to students, faculty, staff and the public, and support the campus’s new Cycling Club.
“Sustainability is our future,” said Hanson. She went on to explain what inspires her to do this volunteer work, and why she devotes so much time to the student club. “Without finding ways to live sustainability, we may not have a future.”
For more information about sustainability efforts or the college’s Environmental Science degree program, visit: AnokaRamsey.edu
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