by Alex Duryera ’18
Barack Obama left the White House with many long-term goals to help reduce our global environmental impact.
He put plans in place to reduce greenhouse emissions and maintain clean water resources, ratified the Paris Agreement as part of a global effort to curb rising temperatures to well below two degrees Fahrenheit, and was working with other countries to plan and fund sustainability projects.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a group of over 1,300 scientists from around the world, average global temperatures are predicted to rise by 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit during the next hundred years.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) explains the effects of climate change on various economic activities. Rising temperatures, changing weather patterns, and increasing carbon dioxide levels are adversely affecting crops and causing the oceans to become more acidic, threatening marine organisms like coral.
The warmer climate in some areas of the globe makes plants, animals, and humans more susceptible to parasites and disesases that can now reach wider ranges.
A changing climate causes some organisms to shift their breeding and migration patterns, potentially causing problems for organisms that rely on them. Climate change can mean threats to food security, forest productivity, coastal infrastructure, and the health of the elderly and babies.
These threats are serious and inevitable—we must act now.
Major concerns have been raised under the new Trump administration regarding environmental action.
Dismantling the environmental legislation Obama enacted, Trump supports the construction of pipelines in order to continue the exploitation of domestic fossil fuel sources. He is also in the process of loosening EPA regulations, and has vowed to exit the Paris Agreement.
The environment is changing; climate change is very real, and it is not slowing down anytime soon. Future generations deserve a clean, healthy, flourishing environment and it is up to us to take action now.
What can you do?
1. Join on-campus clubs focused on environmental sustainability, such as the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC) or the Sustainable Development Club.
2. Keep updated on current events and keep an eye out for local rallies or protests:
• Sustainability Summit: Saturday, April 8 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Join students from colleges across New England for a discussion on sustainable initiatives happening at their universities and in their communities!
• Climate Change & Building Resilient Communities Discussion: Monday, April 10 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Blue Cross & Blue Shield of RI at 500 Exchange Street. Join state leaders for a discussion on what work is being done to preemptively prepare Rhode Island communities for the changing climate.
• March for Science: Saturday, April 22 from 12-4 p.m. at the state house. Take a stand against those who deny scientific research and factual evidence, and show your appreciation for those pursuing the truth.
3. Be mindful. Check first before tossing garbage in a recycling bin. Ask questions if you are not sure which bin something belongs in. Check out the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation’s website for a detailed flyer with recycling guidelines.
Go Green! Let’s Talk Trash
by Alex Duryera ’18
Students, faculty, and staff populate the lines of Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks during all hours of the day. But have you ever stopped to wonder where the cup you toss out goes? Ever think about how many plastic, paper, and Styrofoam cups you throw away every week? Every month? Every year?
Let’s consider a day in the life of your disposable Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks cup.
First the straw, lid, and plastic or paper cup are pulled out of plastic wrapping that is then thrown in the trash. Then your cup is filled with the coffee or tea that will keep you peppy and caffeinated throughout the day.
Once you finish your beverage, you contemplate where to dispose of it. Straws and paper cups can always be thrown in the trash, while plastic cups and their lids can always be recycled. If you neglected to consider the environmental impacts of Styrofoam, you might have asked for a “hot cup” instead of coming down to Harkins LL18 for a free reusable coffee cup koozie!
This is a solution to having a cold hand in the winter when drinking iced coffee and to those horrible water rings that show up on your desk. With the advanced foam technology, the koozie actually absorbs the condensation and will not leave a ring on your desk.And your hand will be the perfect temperature. What more could you want?
If you are a busy bee and do not have time to stop by our office, do not worry! Thursdays around noon by the Dunkin’ Donuts on campus, the Office of Environmental Health & Safety will be handing out free koozies!
Think about it—would you rather have a cool reusable PC koozie that helps reduce waste sent to the landfill and represents your school? Or would you rather send a Styrofoam cup to the landfill every time you drink a coffee just so your hand does not get wet? By the way, that Styrofoam cup takes at least 500 years to decompose and is not yet recyclable in Rhode Island. The choice is up to you!
Styrofoam is made with benzene and polystyrene, both known to cause cancer in humans. The workers responsible for creating these Styrofoam cups are exposed to these harmful chemicals on a daily basis. Benzene and polystyrene have been linked to central and nervous system mutations, Parkinson’s disease, and leukemia.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Styrofoam is the fifth largest source of hazardous waste in the country. Styrofoam is also the dominant type of urban litter and the main pollutant in oceans, bays, and other bodies of water around the U.S.
You can still do even more to reduce your environmental footprint! Dunkin’ and Starbucks will fill up your reusable coffee cup or tumbler from home, as long as it has a lid on it. Starbucks will even give you your beverage for the price of a refill, so you save money by being environmentally conscious.
Remember to bring your reusable coffee cup or tumbler with a lid next time you go to Starbucks or Dunkin’! Be one less. Choose to reuse. Say no to Styrofoam.