McDaniel: Green or Not?

Recycling Bins in Hill Hall. Photo by Annie Brown.Recycling Bins in Hill Hall. Photo by Annie Brown.

On any given day, someone walking down Main Street will notice garbage lying on the ground and probably think nothing of it. People constantly forget about the epic problems that plague the environment. The pollution pouring from vehicles and factories destroys the climate, while trash and garbage wander aimlessly to the oceans. We are depleting the earth’s natural resources daily and continue on a destructive path to our future.

On Sept. 21 nearly 400,000 activists gathered in New York, to help spread awareness about the current climate controversy, according to The Wall Street Journal. Climatemarch.org emphasizes the mission of the Great March for Climate Action is to change the hearts and minds of the American people, our elected leaders and people across the world to act now to address the climate crisis.

Many members of Green Life, McDaniel’s environmental club, attended the movement of climate control to help spread awareness. In total, Green Life, combined with the College Garden Club, has over 30 members, who focus on creating awareness for environmental issues and finding solutions.

Students, faculty and staff are all interested in seeing environmentally friendly changes happen on campus.

When asked about possible immediate improvements that could be made, the common remark was consistent with Environmental Studies professor Dr. Mona Becker’s statement: “Using native plants in the campus gardens would create more sustainability. Plant low water use plants so the grass does not need to be watered so much over the summer. Use environmentally friendly fertilizers and/or pesticides, etc.”

Residents on campus suggest finding alternate power sources for McDaniel’s electrical needs.

“I know of one school that has their own power plant [and] the possibility of solar panels or windmills could be a great source of renewable energy for us in the future,” says Zoie Catherine May, a McDaniel student and activist who attended the climate march.

“Solar power and windmills could create a sustainable power supply for us on campus. We are currently exploring the idea of windmills on the golf course,” said Emma West, executive of the College Garden Club.

All of these are great ideas, considering what the rest of McDaniel’s community thinks about the college’s current impact on the environment. Out of 20 people surveyed on campus, only two feel that McDaniel College helps improve the environment. These statistics make many students question what else can be done to improve.

Staff members from McDaniel say that improvements have been made over the last few years.

“When I first started at McDaniel College there wasn’t any recycling on campus. Now we have separate containers all over campus, to help promote recycling,” says Linda Garber of he Hoover Library staff. “We also now have automatic lights, which help conserve energy when they are not being used.”

When asked what we could do to improve our impact on climate change, Garber responded, “Making people more aware of the impact they have by advertising and getting the word out.” Many other students agree this is a great first step.

May believes the first steps lie in making everyone knowledgeable of the issues. “Bringing awareness and transparency to the community will connect them to the change. When people are connected to the ideas, they become agents of change themselves.”

Transparency seems to be a common theme on McDaniel’s impact to be green. Many students and faculty members agree that the lack of transparency in the recycling program is questionable and challenges the integrity of the program. When the same 20 people were asked, what they think happens to the recycling once it leaves McDaniel, 15 people said, “I hope it goes to the recycling plant.” The remaining five did not know.

“Do we actually recycle? What happens to it once it leaves McDaniel’s campus?” asked an anonymous source.

“A lot of things that are happening at the moment are really good, but the communication and awareness within the community are lacking,” said West, who is also an environmental studies major.

The College making improvements in its environmentally friendly efforts wouldn’t just benefit the environment. Thomas Redmond, a commuter student, says, “If McDaniel was known by more people to be an eco-friendly college, think about the publicity they would get and the interest it would generate for new students.”

“Any change for the better shows the community and potential future students, that McDaniel cares about its impact on the environment,” commented West.

The need for improvement is an ongoing topic, both globally and locally. McDaniel College has the opportunity and the community support to help make improvements for the future. There is a strong focus on identifying the issues on campus and creating solutions for the problems. The future of the planet is everyone’s responsibility. McDaniel College can certainly do its part to help address the need for a clean and save environment.