Setbacks should not prevent environmental efforts

By Editorial Staff

Currently, Hamilton College is a participant in the NY6 regional competition of the Campus Conservation Nations.  Despite our strong showing in previous years, as reported in The Spectator’s front page story, we are off to a slow start.  Members of HEAG point out that there are likely several reasons for this including the timing of competition and the systemic problems of how Hamilton heats its buildings.  While it may be true that these roadblocks keep us from being as competitive as we have been in past years, they do not represent valid excuses for individual environmental apathy.

Yes, it’s true: Hamilton College and its students have been leaders when it comes to making our campus greener.  Whether it is through initiatives like Physical Plant’s efforts to implement policies that ensure new campus buildings meet LEED design standards, the College’s pledge to follow the principles of the American College and University Climate Commitment, the establishment of the College Arboretum or even through HEAG’s movement to “Cut the Cups,” we have always striving for a more environmentally friendly campus.

In this week’s story on the Campus Conservation Nationals competition, President of HEAG Risa Nagel ’16 explained, “Hamilton’s issues [in this year’s competition] do not revolve around individual choices that people are making.”  This may be true, but in the spirit of the competition, we should redouble our individual efforts to be environmentally conscious.  While we may not be able to make a difference in this particular contest, collectively we can promote a green culture on campus by doing things like recycling, taking shorter showers, turning the lights off, choosing to avoid paper cups and plastic water bottles along with other relevant ways of restricting carbon emission usage.

On a similar and somewhat related note, sometimes even environmental setbacks can be instructive.  This past week, the dishwasher broke in Commons and to the horror of many environmentalists, the kitchen staff was forced to provide paper plates, cups and plastic utensils.  Yes, this certainly was not a good situation from an environmental standpoint, but there is no question that the predicament provoked quite a reaction to the astonishing number of paper products being used.  People were talking about how bad it was for the environment.  The mountainous stack of cups alarmed students.  The unfortunate quandary could have a silver lining because it forced people, whether they liked it or not, to face the issue of the use of paper cups head on.  It sparked conversations, outrage and hopefully change.

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