Claflin University Kicks Off New Sustainability Initiatives Campus-wide

Sep 25, 2014
Claflin University has stepped up its green efforts and invites the campus community to take a more active role in helping the environment.

This week, under the theme “Your future is orange, maroon and GREEN,” the University unveiled new exterior recycling bins bearing the Panther logo campus-wide; trash bins with green lids designated for recyclables among the black bins across campus; recycling bins for paper, plastic and aluminum in each residence hall; and plans for a one-stop recycling center behind the Dining Center.

Claflin students will play a vital role in collecting and sorting the recyclables. Teams of student volunteers will be assigned to the task several days a week.

“We are building on our previous work and taking our campus’ green efforts to the next level,” President Henry N. Tisdale said. “This is our commitment to the future of Claflin University, the state and the world. We need the entire Claflin community to help us in this worthwhile endeavor.”

The freshman class was among the first to learn about the new steps being taken on the Claflin campus at the institution’s Sustainability Initiative Kick-Off, held during The Freshman College’s Freshman Assembly on Tuesday, September 23, in W.V. Middleton Fine Arts Center.

The speaker for the occasion was Felicia M. Davis, director of the Building Green Initiative at Clark Atlanta University. Created by the UNCF, this program advances green building and other sustainability efforts at historical black, Hispanic-serving and tribal colleges and universities.

Claflin’s sustainability efforts were recognized last year by the Building Green Initiative when it named the University one of the nation’s “Top 10 Green HBCUs.”

“In our community, we have a phenomenal opportunity to make a quantum leap,” Davis said. “HBCUs have a special, unique role to play in advancing sustainability. Embracing a culture of stewardship is essential to the black community.

“This class at this institution at this time, you have the chance to do something phenomenal. You really have to walk the walk. And if you embrace it, you will soar.”

Davis shared with the audience her list of the five most important problems facing humanity: the destruction of natural habitats and depletion of non-renewable resources; uncontrolled growth of the human population; the rapidly growing gap between rich and poor nations and individuals; the rapidly growing and “immensely dangerous” power being released by society, such as nuclear weapons and chemical warfare; and the deterioration of humanity’s moral fabric – all issues that can be traced back to the environment.

“All issues in the newspaper can be brought back to the environment,” she said, citing how hardships such as drought can lead to increased tensions in regions of the world that are already unstable. “Please dig deeper. … Cultivate the habit of knowing better, and then doing better.”

Davis shared some simple strategies for students to lessen their impact on the environment, including skipping meat for at least one meal a day and committing to one sustainable act a day, whether it’s purchasing locally grown produce or buying organic products at the store.

“Ask folks who don’t recycle to do so, and let them know that it’s meaningful,” she said.

In recent years, Claflin has shown its dedication to sustainability by signing the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment; conducting cutting-edge research with biofuels and bioremediation; initiating awareness among students through the University’s Friends of the Earth programs; eliminating trays in the dining hall; launching a new campus energy policy; installing solar panel systems in several campus buildings to reduce energy consumption; installing biodigester equipment in the dining hall to compost food waste; and incorporating numerous sustainability initiatives into the construction of Claflin Commons.

Claflin also partnered with PepsiCo Recycling in spring 2013 by installing the Dream Machine on campus to aid in the recycling of plastics and aluminum containers. Members of the Claflin community can sign up at pepsicorecycling.com/login to receive coupons and other perks just for recycling.

Aside from the inherent benefits of keeping communities and landfills free of recyclable litter, the Dream Machine also enables students to help support disabled U.S. veterans. The recycled materials make it possible for PepsiCo to donate funds to the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, which offers post-9/11 disabled veterans free training in entrepreneurship and small business management so they can make their own dreams come true.

“We have a lot of committed students, faculty, staff and administrators supporting and demanding our leadership in regards to sustainability,” said Rodney Hudson, director of Claflin’s Auxiliary Services and chairman of the University’s Sustainability Committee. “We want to be a leader in our community and be an example for other universities seeking to do the same.”

Activities and educational programs to engage the campus community in Claflin’s sustainability efforts will be held in the coming months.

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