This Monday, Chapman’s school colors will be temporarily green as the whole campus celebrates Earth Day — and the Office of Sustainability, the Office of Civic Engagement and the Department of Peace Studies have some exciting events lined up for the entire Chapman Community.
We sat down with Mackenzie Crigger, faculty member of the Schmid College of Science and Technology and sustainabililty manager in facilities management, about how to stay green even after Earth Day.
What are easy ways Chapman employees can be more sustainable?
Some of the easiest things to do on campus are to make sure you are recycling properly. I regularly see recyclable items in the trash and vice versa. One of the biggest culprits are hot coffee cups. Those can’t be recycled, but the lids and sleeves can be. My office also offers a Green Department Certification program where we do a department audit and provide easy ways to make the space more sustainable while also recognizing the great things the department is already doing.
What are small things we can do that have a big impact?
The easiest way to have a large impact is to reduce the amount of meat and dairy that you eat. The carbon footprint of hamburger, for example, includes all of the fossil fuels that that went into producing the fertilizer and pumping the irrigation water to grow the corn that fed the cow and may also include emissions that result from converting forest land to grazing land. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that if all Americans eliminated just 1 quarter pound serving of beef per week, the reduction in global warming gas emissions would be equivalent to taking four to six million cars off the road.
What are the greatest challenges to living a sustainable life in California/Orange County?
For me the biggest struggle is access to reliable and efficient public transportation. In Southern California we are fighting against a car culture that is deeply ingrained. Many people make the choice to live far from where they work because the housing is more affordable. I take the train to L.A. and San Diego regularly, but there aren’t many choices when it comes to train times, and that’s largely because the train isn’t used as widely as it could be.
What is being done and what is not being done to promote sustainability in Southern California?
Orange County Transit Authority is working really hard to increase access to public and active transportation. I think that if people have more frequent access to shared services they’ll use it more. The utility companies are also investing more money in renewable energy sources and making those options available to customers. I live in a house where I can’t put in solar panels, but I have the option of being on an all-renewable energy rate. The fact that I’m paying for more renewable energy to be in the grid increases the demand and hopefully that is another way to push the utility company into investing more in those technologies.
Additionally, Southern California is investing a lot of money into renewable natural gas. When we see large organizations making these shifts, that is where systemic change happens. The state has also passed new regulations that place strict requirements on businesses to manage their organics, and soon that will be a household requirement as well.
Ultimately, we are moving in a positive direction, but there is still a long way to go.
What would you say to our students who will be policy-makers/advocates in the future?
Start local. Get involved in local politics, because if you don’t understand what’s happening on the ground and how people are experiencing these impacts, it is impossible to legislate and create policy to address these issues.
To learn more about Earth Day 2019, click here to read the Office of Sustainability’s blog.
Earth Week Events
Monday, April 22
- Earth Day Food Fair
- 11 a.m.–2 p.m., Attallah Piazza
- Support local farmers and artisans from Orange Home Grown Farmers Market! This event promotes conscious consumption by purchasing in-season produce and supporting local businesses.
Tuesday, April 23
- Weigh the Waste
- 11 a.m.–1 p.m., Randall Dining Commons
- This educational program is geared to assist students in post-consumer waste reduction. Volunteers will assist in the collection and weighing of the food waste. After the event, volunteers can enjoy a free meal at the dining hall! E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in volunteering.
- “Securing Earth: Food Insecurity in Orange County” Panel Discussion
- 5:30–7 p.m., George Bush Conference Center, Beckman Hall, Room 404
- A panel-style discussion between four local experts about food availability and accessibility in Orange County.
Wednesday, April 24
- “Swap Not Shop” and screening of “The True Cost”
- 6–8 p.m., Student Union Ballroom, Argyros Forum, Room 119
- Help promote slow fashion and sensible environmental attitudes towards clothes. Enjoy popcorn and a documentary screening. All leftover items will be donated to Casa Teresa.
Thursday, April 25
- Skip the Straw
- 11:30–1:30, Attallah Piazza
- Stop by to pick up your own free reusable metal straw and straw cleaner and learn about the environmental consequences of using plastic straws.
- “Securing Earth, Securing Peace” Lecture by Dr. Richard Matthew
- 7–9 p.m., Irvine Lecture Hall, Hashinger Science Center, Room 150
- Dr. Matthew, UCI Associate Dean of Research and International Programs, School of Social Ecology and Professor of Urban Planning and Public Policy and Political Science, will lecture on the connections between the environment and war and peace.