Student organizations taking holistic approach to sustainability

September 30, 2011

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Campus student organizations are promoting sustainability throughout the academic year not only by focusing on environmental sustainability, through minimization of resources and encouraging responsible stewardship, but also by drawing attention to the less traditionally recognized aspects of social and economic sustainability.

"Most people don't realize sustainability is more encompassing than just recycling or using green materials," says Ian Champ, president of the newly formed Student Sustainability Council (SCC). "The SCC takes a holistic approach and is concerned with promoting all facets of sustainability such as economic responsibility, environmental stewardship, and social justice."

The SCC serves as a "council of councils" as its members include several student organizations on campus, such as Boiler Green Initiative (BGI), student governments, and departmental groups. The SCC was formed as a networking resource for new club members to share experiences and ideas.

SCC initiatives include active recruitment of clubs and reviewing existing campus practices, such as trayless dining. All students, faculty and staff are able to summit ideas for consideration. The SCC is promoting itself with a window box display in Stewart Center and will be participating in today's Sustainability Expo from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Stadium Mall.

Purdue student, Bob Easter, helps operate a fully functional student farm as the first president of Full Circle Agriculture, a student organization committed to sustainability. (Purdue photo/Andrew Hancock)

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To increase awareness of social sustainability, the student organization Swipe Out Starvation is addressing local and international hunger concerns.

"Hunger is not sustainable," says Swipe Out Starvation President Aaron Crow, a sophomore in interdisciplinary engineering. "There are people throughout the world who spend all of their time scraping together a minimal amount of money to live, but are hardly doing so at a level that we Westerners would consider as meeting the basic needs and necessities."

Swipe Out Starvation seeks to address the idea of global food equity through its programs, and in doing so, works to satisfy the basic needs of humans everywhere. A pilot program was successfully initiated in the spring. Students donated money via their meal cards, resulting in the donation of 125 backpacks for Food Finders Food Bank of Lafayette.

The Boiler Green Initiative (BGI) is an interdisciplinary team of students who are committed to making Purdue's campus greener. BGI members educate themselves and others about global environmental problems and plan and execute projects -- all while maintaining a fun, social atmosphere. With the financial support of a grant from State Farm, BGI was responsible for establishing the Schleman Hall green roof. BGI has also developed a football recycling program that diverts recyclables from landfills each season. This year, BGI looks forward to planning a second green roof, building a rain garden, and attending the 2011 Midwest Power Shift conference.

"Boiler Green Initiative is looking forward to a proactive year of challenging the Purdue community and ourselves to act as stewards of this beautiful Earth. Green Week is a spring board for this mission and sets up a fun and successful year for our club and the Purdue community as a whole," says Stephen Kelly, BGI president.

The Ecological Sciences and Engineering Interdisciplinary Graduate Program (ESE) will host its fifth annual campus-wide symposium Nov. 8-9. This year's theme is "Solutions for 7: 7 Billion People, 7 Grand Challenges." This symposium seeks to stimulate interest and discussion in the Purdue community about the various interdisciplinary aspects of environmental research and applications and will include speakers as well as an undergraduate and graduate poster competition.

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