University Works to Propel Sustainability Efforts

The Sustainability Advisory Council (SAC) gathered with over 50 attendees to voice concerns, propose solutions, and plan for a greener Monmouth in the Edison Atrium on Sept. 21, 2017.

This was the first SAC meeting in over a year. Student leaders and community members who are involved with sustainable practices are invited to share their efforts and encourage support for their groups. The meeting organized a dedicated time for active members of the community leading sustainable practices at Monmouth to address the crowd and potential members.

At this time all members of the community were invited to voice their concerns of campus sustainability and propose methods to grow greener at Monmouth.

Many students and faculty members made comments on the issue of productivity and environmental hazards with single stream recycling at Monmouth.

 “I have heard from multiple professors that all of the waste gets dumped into one place, and I have also seen janitors take both trash and recycling bags and combine them,” said senior health and physical education student Alexandra Georgieff. 

“I was in the gym today and they were using the trash can to hold gym equipment and the recycling can was the only can to throw trash and recycling into,” she continued.

Various faculty also had concerns about the current sustainability practices at the University.

 “Truthfully, I don’t think the campus is sustainable at all,” said one faculty member who preferred to stay anonymous. “Yes, we are regarded a green campus, but that simply is because we are using all of our roofs for solar panels.  Yes, they produce a lot of green energy, but our solar paneling is masking all the other non-sustainable practices we have on campus.”

Many members had comments and suggestions on the University’s dining services. Banning the Styrofoam to go containers used in the dining hall that notoriously do not ever break down was one of many recommendations.

Gourmet Dining Residential Manager Chris Ryerson attended the meeting and responded to the concerns and requests of student members at the meeting.

“I believe that Gourmet can play a big role in advancing the sustainability at Monmouth, and food service anywhere can do that,” Ryerson said. “We are willing to do anything to help the sustainability council initiatives. If a subcommittee focuses on food and water, we would love to be an advisor and a good partner.”

Academic plans surfaced at the SAC meeting, with goals to implement more sustainability focused courses, and increase accessibility to the Global Sustainability minor.

Diano Praglo, Chapter President of the Food Recovery Network, was present and expressive at the meeting.

“The Food Recovery Network strives to eliminate food waste. One out of ten residents in Monmouth County are considered food insecure, which means they are unaware of when their next meal will be,” Praglo said. As we go about our everyday lives, it is very hard to believe that outside the walls of Monmouth University, our community is struggling with food hunger. Luckily, Monmouth University and its students have dedicated selfless hours to try and combat this issue.”

The Food Recovery Network, a national chapter at Monmouth University, prevents food waste on campus by packaging leftover in aluminum pans at the student center and dining hall. They meet in the evening Wednesday and Friday and then the morning after they take the food to either a food bank or a church.

Praglo continued, “I would love to continue to play a key role in anything involving waste.

“I think it is important to now continue onto the next step. Having meetings is wonderful, but if we will not act upon our words, I do not see anything efficient getting done. I believe with the help of people who are really willing to voice their opinion and throw in a little bit of work, we can really create something special together.”

 “We had many powerful, educated voices in that room and it is exciting to see our ideas being brought to life,” Praglo added.

The meeting left new members uncertain of when the next meeting would be, and who would be able to rise to positions of leadership.

Marc Pallidino said, “The next meeting and available council positions were unclear,” said Marco Pallidino, a senior political science major with a minor in sustainability. “It is not certain whether we can anticipate change the come with this fragile first meeting. The follow-up will tell all.” 

Vice President of Administrative Services Patricia Swannack, who is “ultimately responsible for the University’s sustainability efforts” says that “we have to meet more frequently than twice a month to have any change.”