BY TIARA JAMES- CONTRIBUTOR
One LIU. Two very different campuses. It’s not only the suburban and urban environments that set the LIU Post and LIU Brooklyn campuses apart from each other. The way in which they handle recycling and raise environmental awareness set them apart as well.
Decades into the recycling efforts made by the U.S. and other nations, it’s still tough to get everyone on the same page. Businesses, schools and individual households are failing to monitor the amount of paper waste they’re producing and could be recycling. However, when it comes to schools, LIU Post is making sure they take action.
“At LIU Post, we completed a campus-wide assessment of our [green] campus programs several years ago,” Scott Carlin, a Geography and Environmental Science professor at LIU Post, said. “As a result of those efforts, the Princeton Guide to Green Colleges recognized LIU Post in its rankings of top green colleges.” From 1997 to 2005, Carlin served as the co-director of LIU’s Institute for Sustainable Development and has coordinated LIU Post’s Sustainability Committee since 2010. His efforts and consistency have led to many breakthroughs in sustainability on the Post campus.
LIU Post boasts an effective recycling program, a sustainability committee, a rideshare program and an environmental pledge that graduates are given the chance to take. The pledge is a promise the individual makes to be aware of environmental consequences and to take sustainable actions in their own lives and their communities LIU Post also has a variety of collaborative projects with Aramark to promote sustainable foods. But one of the biggest initiatives taken at LIU Post is the Green Office program that involves recycling paper products.
The Green Office program, established at LIU Post in 2013, requires at least 51 percent of office administrators, faculty and staff to sign the pledge in order to officially be recognized as a Green Office. In the pledge is a promise to have access to bins for paper and cardboard recycling in the office, to have separate bins for bottle and can recycling, to utilize reusable water bottles, and to provide tips on energy saving and an electronic waste guide.
“Recycling is not going to solve the problems created by our commercial culture until we reward recycling participation,” Dr. Carlin said. The Green Office program does just that. Offices deemed “green” are entered into competitions and winners receive prizes.
LIU Brooklyn paints a different picture when it comes to its sustainability efforts, which are definitely less prevalent than Post. The LIU Brooklyn website doesn’t have a page highlighting campus environmental efforts, as the Post website does. If students were curious about sustainability, they’d have to do some serious asking around campus. Being that the campus is located in an urban setting with easy access to public transportation and taxi services, there’s little to no need for a school ride share program. Yet pollution and waste are topics that could be discussed more.
Schools are the among the leading consumers of paper products with about 40% of the school waste stream being paper. Millions of trees are cut down each year to supply products to schools and other businesses. However, the rate at which they’re being replanted doesn’t balance out with the rate at which their being cut down. As a result, greenhouse gasses are piling up in the air with no trees to clean them up. This should be an issue concentrated on by city-set schools such as LIU Brooklyn because it effects their communities directly.
Nasheeba Sanderson, a 28-year-old social work major at LIU Brooklyn agreed. “I don’t see many recycling bins, or garbage cans, on many floors,” she said. “As students we aren’t pushed to recycle and the recycling bin that I know of is never full.”
A LIU Brooklyn custodial worker, who asked to remain anonymous, said he was unaware of the recycling policy in place on campus – suggesting that access to and knowledge about recycling just isn’t widespread enough.
There is no Green Office program in place at LIU Brooklyn to encourage faculty and staff to recycle and that mentality carries over to the students. While there is a sustainability club on campus, it’s not advertised well-enough to make students feel as if it’s an important aspect of the school culture.
Moving toward campus sustainability at LIU Brooklyn doesn’t seem to be in the front of many people’s minds. Professors print a lot of unnecessary paper handouts for students that won’t be used once the semester is over. A recycling culture needs to be implemented across campus for the sake of the planet’s future. Changes could start small. Using recycled paper products is an achievable goal that the school could set. As Carlin said, responsible behavior needs to be rewarded and incentivized.
“The administration will never be able to create a successful university recycling program on its own, students have to decide that this is their priority, too.” Carlin said.
The change starts locally, and the change could start with you.
For more information on LIU Post’s sustainability efforts see https://www.liu.edu/CWPost/About/Resources/Initiatives
*Update: As of March 23rd, 2020, no page on any green initiatives or recycling is able to be located on the LIU Post website.