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Going green: CRC celebrates first sustainability day

Britni Alford

Students of Professor Debra Sharkey's environmental studies class conduct a trash audit.

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Cosumnes River College celebrated its very first Campus Sustainability Day on Oct. 24 with the future of the campus and the entire planet in mind.
The Winn Center walk-around by architecture Professor John Ellis highlighted the long future ahead for the building and the campus as it shall stand as the campus’ greenest building.
“Probably the biggest thing is we’ll be gone and this building will still be occupied,” Ellis said. “The building will keep on teaching. It will be a role model of what good teaching can be.”Ellis described the building as a living laboratory which demonstrates and celebrates sustainable environmental design. This includes exposed portions of the building structure for studying, a smart grid for monitoring energy use, shading devices over the windows to demonstrate solar heating and cooling and recycled materials for construction among other sustainable features.

The Winn Center is a large move for the campus’ progress towards sustainability and going green, but it is not the only thing on campus leading us towards a greener future.

It is hard to miss the newer trash cans on campus that have places for trash and recyclable products. In the cafeteria the bins go one step further with spaces for landfill and compost material.

It was those bins that Professor Debra Sharkey’s geography 302 students emptied out in order to engage in the sustainability day trash audit.

With gloves, protective vests and aprons, the students gathered the bags of trash and weighed them as  Sharkey recorded the weight. After weighing came sorting.

The goal of the weighing and sorting, which led to weighing again, was to see just how effective the bins were and if people were throwing materials away in the correct bin, Sharkey said.

“A lot of people here have no idea where all this goes. A lot goes to the landfill,” said 21-year-old undecided major Abhishek Prasad. “I think people should know how to properly throw their waste away.”

As they sorted, Sharkey pointed out to the students where items belonged. Cafeteria plates and coffee cups could be composted, while the bottles from water or soda were to be recycled and things like Starbucks cups and plastic utensils were sorted into the landfill pile.

“I really like the environment and seeing people doing this to the planet really affects me,” said Ignacia Ramos, 18, an undecided major. “And it really affects them but they don’t even notice.”
Sharkey said that the next step in the students project is to monitor the bins in the cafeteria to politely help people find the right bin for their waste, before auditing the trash again after a week of monitoring.

“I think people in general want to do the right thing, but they just don’t know how,” Sharkey said.

Both events were set to celebrate and mark a greater move towards making CRC a greener campus for future generations and making our impact on the community and the planet a positive one.

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Going green: CRC celebrates first sustainability day