Rebecca Pollard- Columnist
Last week, Oneonta’s Red Dragon mascot went green for the 4th Annual Green Dragon Week here at SUNY Oneonta. From Monday, April 21 until Sunday, April 27, the campus was buzzing with “green” activities for students and community members to participate in. All events were free for students, and included everything from food, fashion shows, giveaways and crafts to presentations, exhibitions and documentaries. Green Dragon Week fell on National Earth Day, which was on April 22, and was dedicated to providing students with fun and free ways to raise environmental awareness and getting people involved in local environmental initiatives. Since the first Green Dragon Week in 2010, this has been the main goal of having the Red Dragon “go green” for a week each year.
Green Dragon Week kicked off Monday morning in the quad with a “Zero Waste Morning Munch” and a “Green Cleaning Education” table. Throughout the week there were multiple “Zero Waste” dinners and lunches. The point of these Zero Waste snacks was to show that you do not need paper napkins and disposable cups all of the time. For example, the “Morning Munch” provided no napkins and no coffee cups, but offered doughnuts and coffee to passing students. If students had a reusable mug or cup, they were welcome to have some free coffee. When students asked why napkins and cups were not made available, volunteers explained that “Zero Waste” means that nothing gets thrown away. Small initiatives make students realize how much they are wasting by using a napkin to carry their snack. On the opposite side of the quad was the “Green Cleaning Education” table. Here, volunteers not only explained why many generic cleaning products could be harmful, they also gave away free green cleaning products. This educated students and gave them an immediate way to begin helping to fix the problem.
Other events reoccurred throughout the week. The “Bike Repair” table was made available on three different days in the quad, giving students the opportunity to drop by on one day if they were busy another. This was a place for students who needed any part of their bike fixed to get it repaired for free with the hopes that they will be able to ride their bike more often. Another event was the thrift shop. The purpose of this was to show students the value in reusing articles of clothing, while allowing them to take actually participate in the purchasing of used clothes. It also made the College at of Oneonta a more sustainable place by making it more of a closed loop ecosystem, if only for the week.
In addition to the exciting events of Green Dragon Week, SUNY Oneonta has coincidentally been named to The Princeton Review’s 2014 “Guide to 332 Green Colleges.” We are among 332 institutions recognized in the guide, ten of these being SUNY schools. The profile given of SUNY Oneonta in The Princeton Review lists various actions taken by our school which qualify it as one of the most environmentally friendly schools in the nation, Green Dragon being one of them. Other sustainable activities undertaken on our campus include: The use of 100 percent recycled paper in all campus offices, the use of biodegradable shopping bags in The Red Dragon Outfitters bookstore, ten water bottle refill hydration stations placed throughout campus. Also noted are our school’s heating of College Camp, which located on 276 acres of woodland, and is heated with used vegetable oil from the school’s dining halls, which saves 800 to 900 gallons of used oil from going to the landfill every month, and a commitment to green constructions in all new buildings and renovations, including the rehabilitation of Fitzelle Hall, which is scheduled to reopen in the Fall 2015.
The hope of Green Dragon Week is to educate and motivate students on campus about environmental issues. Green Dragon Week should be every week all year, and it easily could be if more students took the initiative to live “greener” lives. The week is meant to be a starting point for students, just the tip of the iceberg. It lets students know what the problem is and how they can help to fix it. But from there it is up to the student body to be more conscious of their ecological footprint in their own lives.
“Congratulations to SUNY Oneonta and all 10 SUNY campuses to be included in the 2014 Guide to Green Colleges. This recognition is much deserved and highly commendable.”
-SUNY Chancellor, Nancy Zimpher