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Students' green initiatives grow on campus

By Nico MachlittSTAFF WRITER

Over the past few years, Hofstra has sought to make its campus environmentally friendly and still has future projects planned.

Around campus, the environmentally friendly fixtures such as hydration stations, solar panels and recycling bins often become so routine for students that they often forget the planning that went into those projects.

For years, the University has been working to make the campus greener. In the early ‘80s, the school initiated green conservation projects, one being water conservation. In 1990 they started a generation plant.

Teresa Greis is Hofstra’s campus sustainability officer, and works on energy conservation projects along with minimizing waste on campus.

Greis said, “We make 24 percent of our electricity used on campus. This minimizes cost and our carbon footprint.”

As far as waste minimization, the school expanded recycling bottles and cans to south campus. Over the last four years Hofstra has been actively installing LED lighting on campus to reduce electric consumption.

The project the students have been most excited about are the hydration stations.

“This helps minimizes the use of plastic water bottles,” said Greis. “Over the summer we put the locations of the hydration stations on a map for students.”

Tsz Hin Tang, junior business major, is the president of Students for a Greener Hofstra (SGH), an organization that works with the University to become more environmentally friendly.

According to Tang, the most recent item that SGH is working on is #PRIDEnotPLASTIC. Plastic bags have become a big issue for environmental activists, who have also encouraged a ban on plastic bags. Instead, they encourage the use of reusable cloth bags.

The biggest issue in the plastic versus reusable bag debate is cost. Individuals can buy many more plastic bags for the cost of one reusable bag, so big companies prefer plastic.

This is also a national issue: Los Angeles is currently the largest city on a list of 90 cities in California to ban plastic bags.

During welcome week SGH helped hand out 400 white reusable bags. Tang designed the reusable bags with the hashtag, #PRIDEnotPLASTIC. The club is trying to lower the use of plastic bags used on campus and instead encourage students to use reusable bags.

“Bring them to class and if you upload pictures of yourself using the bags and post them on social media, then you have a voice and we can tell the school that the students do not want plastic bags,” said Tang.

Students have had the biggest voice in making Hofstra a greener campus. They encouraged more paper recycling on campus. Many students also eat on campus everyday and are negatively impacting the environment through their choices: choosing to have food boxed instead of plated, eating with plastic cutlery instead of metal cutlery or putting food in a plastic bag versus using a reusable bag.

Further, the student gardens in Netherlands South and next to Stuyvesant are already providing food for the Student Center cafeteria.

The university reportedly has several green plans underway, including an environmental project the university is working on is installing two electric vehicle charging stations.

Each station will allow two electric vehicles to be charged in at the same time. The stations will be located on the south side of Breslin and the south side of Human Resources. Hofstra is sharing the cost of funding this project with a grant from New York State Energy Research Development Authority (NYSERDA).

There are also talks about piloting a composting program for the student gardens, according to Greis.

Greis said these plans align with thinking of Hofstra as a home: students are recycling at their homes, they are composting and they use LED lights. The University knows this and wants the students to keep up with these routines on campus.

“A part of everybody’s job is being green. When you’re at your desk, you can help minimize waste by recycling paper, by turning off the lights when not in your room, and using reusable water bottles filled at the hydration stations,” Greis said. “We are working with Lackmann and with Tang about purchasing the reusable bags [and] having them sold at Dutch Treats and other food locations to reduce the use of plastic bags.”

Although this project is still in progress, Tang and SGH are hopeful. “Being green becomes a part of your lifestyle, it becomes routine,” Tang said.

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