Sustaining the Planet

This past week the Environmental Sustainability Club took a stand for the planet and put on several events to promote environmental sustainability.

Brian Engelbrecht, president of Environmental Sustainability Club and senior in computer science, said the club is important to North Dakota State because the environmental committee branch of student government was recently disbanded, and the students that are a part of the club felt there needed to be a student body on campus to ensure environmental awareness. Chris Spagnolia, vice president of the club and a senior studying zoology, added that it’s a way to engage students who have an interest in sustainability and help other students get out of their comfort zone.

When it comes to awareness on the national, or even global level, Spagnolia stated that he wanted all sides to be heard and he values all sides, but to also keep our best interest in mind, which to him and the other club members is the environment. For Engelbrecht, it’s about awareness. Ivy Bergstrom, a general club member and a junior studying sociology, said environmental sustainability is important in all disciplines and that it’s important because everyone is connected to it within their daily lives.

Wednesday, April 18, the club conducted a trash audit. A trash audit is where the group collects trash from resident halls, put on their hazmat suits and sort the trash into recyclables and true trash. Despite the low turn out, the club reported good proportions of trash to recyclables. This means people are recycling more than what the club has seen in the past.

Engelbrecht said it’s “hard to get people to want to dive into trash and sort trash,” but that it is worthwhile.

Monday, April 16, the club toured MinnKota recycling services to gain a better understanding of what goes into recycling. “It’s a multi-billion dollar industry; it really does help our economy,” Engelbrecht said, but Spagnolia noted that it’s hard for them to continue the business if they are failing to make profit on account of poor recycling habits by the public. As a result, some of the products that are meant to be recycled end up in the landfill.

Friday, April 20, the club did a campus clean up. Students were encouraged to help the club walk throughout campus and pick up the litter they saw, improving the environment and the aesthetics of NDSU’s campus.

Despite the push to save the environment, the students still brought it back to the personal level. “Even if you don’t feel (the effects) right away, anything that’s wasted can be consumed by the animals we eat. At first it was very slight, but now we are seeing more and more of it to the point where it’s affecting human health,” Bergstrom said. “It’s all about the interconnectedness of this planet,” Spagnolia added.

Engelbrecht described this as a chain reaction. If we as a global population fail to recycle and be environmentally responsible, we will pay the price. This may lead to the production of more waste to preserve sanitary consumables because our natural resources are no longer safe for us. Spagnolia stated that the small things we do, like biking instead of driving, are the things that add up to a healthier planet.

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