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Sustain PLNU to educate students with anti-waste campaign

Sustain PLNU jumpstarts their anti-waste campaign today with a documentary showing of Jeremy Seifert’s “Dive!” in Colt Forum in the hopes of reducing student overconsumption habits during the Christmas season.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported that in 2011, Americans generated approximately 250 million tons of trash, and only recycled and composted 87 million tons, a 34 percent recycling rate. Individually, Americans recycle 1.53 pounds of individual waste out of the 4.40 pounds per person per day that is generated.

Sheena Tran, PLNU’s sustainability officer, said that Sustain PLNU is trying to be at the forefront of this issue that affects all Americans by localizing it on campus in their anti-waste campaign.

“Waste is an issue that plagues all Americans as our culture seems to promote a consumer mentality that results in the creation of excess waste,” said Tran via email. “With Christmas approaching and consumption peaking this time of the year, we thought we would take this chance to educate students on how they can make less of an impact this season.”

Res Life will partner with Sustain PLNU for this anti-waste campaign which will inform students on how best to distribute their waste with this documentary and donations in the dorms during finals week of books, school supplies, clothing and extra nonperishable food which will be donated to San Diego Rescue Mission.

Junior Kirstie Hibbard, Tran’s office assistant and the president of the Students for Environmental Action and Awareness Club (SEAA), which will host the movie screening, said the increased number of students on campus have contributed to more waste in the dorm dumpsters, but that this action of educating students is more proactive.

“Right now, it’s not like we have this massive buildup of waste at Point Loma and our students are just horrific,” said Hibbard. “It’s more that like, as Christians we’re called to be stewards of God’s creation, and we believe that our students are all committed and seem to have a purpose here, and just want to educate them on the fact that environmental issues are important and they do have a responsibility to take a part in that.”

Hibbard also noted that PLNU has always been committed to sustainability, receiving recycling awards in 2009, 2010, and 2011, and “keeping with the idea that we want to be innovators at the forefront of sustainability” has kept Sustain PLNU consistently at work toward better lifestyle habits.

Erin Andersen, employed by Sustain PLNU and a senior environmental science major, said it is the job of students to be responsible consumers, not “mindless wasters” on a campus that affords us oceans and natural beauty.

“In order to allow our grandchildren to delight in the beauty of the earth as we can, it’s our duty to become responsible consumers,” she said via email. “At PLNU we want to foster a conscious community of consumers. It’s recognizing what you buy and how it’s going to affect the world when you’re done with it.”

Assistant Director for Residential Life and RD of Goodwin Hall, Jake Gilbertson, said Res Life’s partnership with Sustainability and Campus Facilities ensures that sustainability is a priority on campus in the dorms.

“I think our role becomes really – this is a university priority – how can we live this out best in our residence halls, how can we educate students, how can we allow them to know what’s going on, where stuff goes and how they can best help us in those efforts,” said Gilbertson. “Students obviously care about this. Our student body wants this to be as sustainable a place as possible.”

The other event, the donations in the dorm lobbies during the week of finals, will shift to be more “gender balanced” this year, contrasting previous efforts of “My Sister’s Closet” in the girls’ dorms. Bins will be collected by San Diego Rescue Mission during that week. Hibbard said that this effort could begin that change in mindset that Sustain PLNU is going for.

“[O]ur idea in doing that [the donations] is just helping students become aware that the things that they would normally consider waste and that they don’t need anymore can totally be used again. It’s kind of this idea of reuse and reduce, even before recycle,” she said.

Ultimately, the goal of this effort is to create an awareness of sustainability efforts on campus as a way to change personal habits.

“We hope to see a decrease in the overall waste produced on our campus, but moreover to instill an understanding of stewardship in each individual who is involved in the PLNU community,” said Tran.

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