Sustainability Now promotes community education

Sustainability Now (SNow), a passionate student run organization focused on promoting sustainability on campus and throughout the community, is teaming up to fight for community education, activism and service. The club’s three co-founders, Emma Bode, Drew Shanafelt and Matthew Bain kicked SNow into gear this semester. “We’re all really passionate about sustainability and felt the frustration that a lot of students feel of not really knowing where to go with that passion. We all felt like there was a niche that needed to be filled,” Bain said.

Whether it’s reducing waste, renewing energy or long term viability, SNow’s mission is to, “promote the student voice on campus and any issues regarding sustainability. We want to support students that have passionate ideas so that we can bring everyone together in a way that allows them to grow,” Bain said. Maintaining one volunteer opportunity a month is a goal SNow is driven to achieve. “We’re trying to increase education and transparency about what’s going on since we all enjoy Earth in a different way. Even though at first we don’t always realize how important it is to protect the Earth, once how we’re involved is pointed out to us, then we realize the importance of sustainability,” Bain said. Dig Day sponsored by 1,000 New Gardens, signing sustainability petitions and getting involved with the Common Home Campaign (an organization promoting sustainability through behavioral change), are just a few of the volunteer opportunities SNow is invested in at the moment.

On March 8, a public forum was held during a University Facilities & Planning Board facilities meeting regarding the new transportation and parking plan for MSU. SNow brought student representatives to the meeting and voiced their opinions to the group.

As a result of their activism, a new policy for the Parking Transportation Master Plan was put into place that limits the amount of new parking on campus and ensures that a sustainability aspect is always involved such as adding new bike paths. “Because of us, in order for them to move forward, their plans have to include an aspect of sustainability,” Bain said.

Though SNow has successfully represented the student voice, there is still a lot to be done. “We have a climate action plan for campus, as a club we would like to see those needs met and to push those goals a little bit further,” Bain said. “We don’t feel like the university is doing everything it could to reach those goals. We want to see things like carbon neutrality and for MSU to decrease greenhouse gas emissions as part of the university’s action plans.”

As far as student involvement goes, SNow keeps their eyes and ears open. “We want people to get involved on whatever level they feel comfortable with. Some students have big ideas like xeriscaping (conservation of water through creative landscaping) on campus so there’s a lot of projects we want to find student support for. If you’re a student with an idea or plan, bring it our way and we’ll see what we can do,” Bain said. SNow recognizes that not everyone will share the same beliefs when it comes to sustainability and therefore encourages all voices to step forward and participate. Bain said: “Sustainability is a very broad term, it means a lot of things. We don’t approach sustainability from just climate change issues, we approach it as maintaining well-being in a community.”

He continued: “Even if you don’t believe in climate change, you believe the place you live should stay beautiful and should stay healthy and thriving. Whether you’re a rancher, a businessman or an avid outdoor enthusiast, in order to keep enjoying the beautiful place we’re at, we need to protect our environment. I’d encourage people who are naysayers to think about sustainability in a broader sense and really recognize what it means beyond the idea of climate change.”

As the club develops, SNow is excited to see where they will end up. In the meantime, the club hopes to see more student involvement so that progress can be made. “We encourage anybody who’s interested to get involved. Even if you don’t support us, come to a meeting and get into a discussion, you’ll get a new perspective. Were not trying to tell anybody what to believe, we’re just trying to open up a dialogue to encourage change and new waves of thinking,” Bain said.

Like SNow on Facebook or email for more ways to get involved.