Sara-June Boullion – Environmental Columnist
Dozens of students and community members participated in Sustainability Day last Sunday at Hunt Union. The event lasted from 1-4 p.m. had guest speakers, sustainability trivia, vegetarian treats and other goodies. I would like to give a big shout out to all of the individuals who helped make the day as awesome as it was! Having a day dedicated solely towards sustainability was refreshing. The best part is that many people walked away having learned something new about their environment, especially the little ways we can work to protect it.
Tammy Reis was the first guest speaker. She gave an informative presentation about the hydraulic-fracturing process, also known as natural gas drilling. Tammy Reis is an environmental and human rights activist, who fervently fights to protect not only her town, but also other’s from the water, air and land pollution generated by hydraulic-fracturing. She advocates for a healthy future by working to put a stop to drilling processes that can severely pollute drinking water with hazardous chemicals and methane. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas. To prevent hydraulic-fracturing in New York she encourages students to write letters to their local, state and federal legislators about the dangers of this gas drilling process. The ultimate goal of the letters is to encourage legislators to place a permanent moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in New York State.Paul Lord, an enthusiastic aquatic invasive (AIS) species researcher, delivered a presentation on the effects of Eurasian water milfoil in New York State’s waters. The purpose of the presentation was to help students and community members understand how to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. The message he wanted the audience to leave with was this, any plant, water or mud material can carry organisms that can infest New York waters. So, why should we care about aquatic invasive species like Eurasian water milfoil? Waters infested with Eurasian water milfoil are not healthy. These plants out-compete the native plants, and grow vast enough to impede boating, swimming and other leisure activities. Paul Lord explained many reasons why he fights to manage and prevent these invasive species- and they supply numerous benefits for citizens of the empire state. First, management and prevention will protect pristine waters, and help keep them pristine. Second, it will reduce widespread damage. Finally, water habitats will have more time to adapt to the invasive species, which also gives researchers time to develop new control methods. One large benefit is that water stays prettier, longer, which also increases a property’s value! Another great benefit would be the increased health in New York’s waterways, ensuring the overall health of our environment.
The two presentations were about serious environmental issues, but the rest of the day had food, goodies and fun learning opportunities. There was a tabling event with local groups and environmental activists, who were giving out free sustainable goodies. The vegetarian treats were delicious! My favorite part was the trivia event, where individuals won neat re-usable bags and pieces of candy for answering the questions right. Overall, Sustainability Day was a success, and received a huge positive reaction from students.