Earth Week promotes campus sustainability

The Geneseo Environmental Organization and the Environmental and Sustainability Task Force collaborated to organize sustainability events on campus during Geneseo's Earth Week, in celebration of Earth Day on April 22.

Monday night Genesee Hall hosted Junkyard Art, a program that allowed students to participate in a concept called "upcycling." "It's the idea of using things that you'd normally throw out and turning them into something useful," said GEO member senior Yolanda Gonzalez.

Participants could make anything from jewelry to iPod cases out of cardboard boxes, empty soda containers, old newspapers and a host of other materials. Genesee RA junior Samantha Feldmeyer ran the program and collected garbage from Genesee residents to provide materials. "One of our goals for Genesee specifically is to encourage people to be more sustainable," she said.

Professor Eugene Dezarn from the School of the Arts also gave a presentation on eco-friendly artwork he has been working on, with a focus on upcycling. "Most artists are pretty aware of using garbage and recycled things," he said, both for sustainability and cost purposes.

On Wednesday the Environmental and Sustainability Task Force held a panel discussion to present sustainability measures being taken on the Geneseo campus. Co-chair Kristina Hannam, biology professor, talked about the goals of the task force and sustainable changes that may be unknown to students. "We can look at where our emissions are coming from and see where we can make some reductions by changing our behaviors on campus," she said.

Recent changes include tray-less dining at Red Jacket Dining Hall, which has reduced food waste by 40 percent, a reduction in pesticide use and the use of green cleaning products by custodial staff.

Students and professors at the panel suggested directions for future sustainability efforts, including the potential for wind power in residence halls, the elimination of bottled water in both CAS facilities and the Admissions office and production of orientation materials on flash drives rather than paper.

The discussion also focused on personal changes one can make toward more environmental practices. "It's not the college's job to make us a sustainable community," said Hannam. "It's the job of every member of the community."

Wednesday's events also included Dinner in the Dark, a dinner by energy-efficient lighting that took place in Red Jacket and Letchworth dining halls.

Friday concludes Earth Week with several environmental events, including a lecture on photovoltaics (solar power), tree planting and a slow-food cook-off at 5 p.m. on Doty Field.

For more information about sustainability, log onto