In 2007, LaGuardia celebrated Earth Day for the first time with only a $250 dollar grant from the New York State Association for Reduction, Reuse and Recycling and the desire of a few dedicated employees and students to promote a greener and healthier campus. Five years later, this one-day affair has turned into a three-day extravaganza featuring funds generously supplied by the College Association, and ten-fold the participation from both the College and local NYC Community
Green Week 2012 was all about Taking Action for the Environment. At the tabling event on April 17, the Environmental Science Program, Occupational Therapy Assistant Program, and Sustainability Council, among others engaged students and staff in hands-on projects and activities while groups such as MillionTreesNYC, and the Community Environmental Center recruited students for internships and educational workshops.
On April 18, a multi-disciplinary seminar about hydraulic fracturing had the whole College abuzz in the Little Theater- kudos to Coordinator/ Moderator Leslie Ann Aarons of Humanities. This was followed by a screening of the movie “Gasland” during club hours, which, although chilling at times, was very well received by students.
Green Week 2012 concluded on April 19, with a fund-raiser for Operation Migration in their efforts to help protect wild whooping cranes. This event was the brainchild of TELC instructor Wayne Kennedy, and proved to be a great success. Many students stopped by to share stories of the devastating effects that environmental degradation has had on wildlife in their own countries.
The accomplishments born of Earth Day and subsequent Green Week celebrations at the College have relied solely on collaborative effort. This year, more than 20 Departments and Programs got involved, and more than a dozen community-based groups and organizations. Another huge contribution to this annual event has been the appointment of a College Sustainability Director- Anthony Lugo, and a much more active Sustainability Council- co-chaired by Anthony and Shahir Erfan, Executive Director of Facilities Management and Planning, which was in the pupal stages at the time of the College’s first Earth Day. The involvement of student advocacy groups such as the Student Government and Campus Improvement Association has been invaluable in the recent achievements of Green Week.
The real drive behind the success of Earth Day and the culture of change it has led to at LaGuardia is reflected in new Programs such as an Environmental Science major and Green Jobs Training Program offered through NY Designs/ ACE, water bottle filling stations in (soon to be) every building on campus, Meatless Mondays in the cafeterias, Fit-Pick stickers on vending machines, the installation of solar faucets in bathrooms, and other great initiatives such as the Community-Supported Agriculture program in Dietetics. LaGuardia has fostered an environment where the adage of “reduce, re-use, recycle” has become the norm.
Judi O’Toole is a Chemical Hygiene Officer in the Natural Sciences Department.