RSOs come together to educate students about sustainability efforts at CMU

Port Huron junior Chase Delor, a Sustainability Assistant for Facilities Management on campus, speaks about CMU's sustainability during the Sustainability, CMU and You conference hosted on Feb. 9 in Biosciences 1010.

Representatives from nine environmental organizations gathered to inform students of the work being done at Central Michigan University to be a more sustainable institution.

The first-ever Sustainability, CMU and You event took place Feb. 9 in the Biosciences Building room 1010. The event was planned almost entirely by students with some help from a few staff members. 

The keynote speaker, Lakeport senior Chase Delor, explained the initiatives CMU and Facilities Management have put in place to become more sustainable. Delor is a sustainability assistant for Facilities Management. CMU has increased sustainability by upgrading recycling receptacles, hiring sustainability experts in residence halls and composting food waste.

“CMU is incredible at composting,” Delor said. “We have a full-circle system in place. Food waste gets sent to a composting facility where it is turned into mulch, then we use that mulch on campus as fertilizer for the trees and flowers.”

Delor spoke in depth about CMU’s recycling system and what can and cannot be recycled. CMU has a dual-stream recycling system, meaning items need to be sorted before they can be taken to a recycling facility. He said contamination is a big problem with this dual stream system. Contamination is when something gets put in the wrong recycling receptacle.

He also listed items which cannot be recycled, like carbon paper, which is sometimes used in receipts, green glass, candy wrappers and pizza boxes. 

“Everyone thinks since pizza boxes are cardboard, they can be recycled,” Delor said. “Sadly, they cannot be recycled, however, they can be composted.”

Following the keynote speech were presentations from a dozen representatives for programs and organizations on campus. 

Brook Helm, director of the Science and Engineering Residential College and associate director of the College of Science and Engineering student success center, discussed some of the environment-related academic programs on campus, which are housed in four colleges. Departments that house these programs are Human Environmental Studies, Political Science, Earth and Atmospheric Science, Geography and Environmental Science and Evironmental Health and Safety in the College of Health Professions.

“There’s a spot for everybody,” Helm said. “There are a number of ways you can take your passion and turn it into a career through an academic program, even if you’re not a scientist.”

The following Registered Student Organizations spoke at the event:

· Take Back the Tap

· Student Environmental Alliance (SEA)

· Student Advocates for Vegetarianism and Veganism (SAVV)

· Geography and Environmental Studies Club

· Campus Grow

· Parks and Outdoor Recreation Coalition

· Sustainability Coalition

· Student Government Association

Armada senior Brendan Mantey, sustainability chair for Student Government Association, described the projects the SGA Sustainability Committee is working on. This semester, the committee has 17 members who represent over 10 RSOs on campus. The committee has worked on legislation for an on-campus food pantry, meatless Mondays in the dining halls and an Enbridge Line Five campaign.

“We want to pass legislation that shows the student body supports the shutdown or restructuring of Line Five in the straits of Mackinac,” Mantey said.

The committee is also working on several projects, including increasing composting, sustainability Sunday tips on social media and an Earth Week clothing drive.

Some of the RSOs had tables set up in the back of the lecture hall for attendees to visit after the presentation. The tables had information about meetings, photos of activities and sign-up sheets for those interested in being a part of the organization.

Saginaw junior Anthony Key attended the event after learning of it in the Health Professions Residential College. He said he was surprised how many different RSOs are available on campus that relate directly to sustainability. He also was glad to learn about the recycling program on campus.

“I have a completely different mindset after being here,” Key said. “I’m going to take what I learned to improve my sustainability practices and help the environment.”

Students who want to learn more about these organizations were encouraged to contact RSOs directly or find them on social media or OrgSync.