ECOPC Kicks Off Earth Week with Eaton Street Clean-up and Clean Plate Challenge
In the week leading up to their annual Earth Day celebration on Saturday, April 22, ECOPC hosted a variety of different events, including their Eaton Street Clean-up and Clean Plate Challenge. For the clean-up, the club recruited eight volunteers to pick up litter on the yards, driveways, and sidewalks along Eaton Street. Supplies such as trash bags and gloves were provided by The 02908 Club, who typically send out their own clean-up crew after weekend parties.
The volunteers spent about one hour picking up litter, primarily cans and bottles, staying away from the significant amount of broken glass that littered the street. They plan to host another clean-up with Bio Society, this time at a beach, to close out their Earth Week festivities.
One volunteer expressed her frustration with the blatant disrespect for the property and the community. “What was surprising to me was how it wasn’t just littering and single-use drinks, but it was also clearly deliberate destruction of property…like a TV, or the fact that people put bottles and cans right under people’s tires.” Many volunteers were similarly disgusted by the sheer amount of trash, especially the shattered TV they came across on the sidewalk and the trash going down the drains.
Another volunteer brought up the apparent lack of concern students have for cleaning up after themselves. “What was really disturbing to me was the parking lots between the houses. They were completely covered in cans, bottles, and other trash. There had to have been thousands that no one had the courtesy or care to pick up. I found it really striking, but I think it’s an unfortunate reflection of the culture at PC, and how we don’t value sustainability as much as we should.”
“My thoughts were more like, wow, people can’t walk their dogs here because of all the glass,” another volunteer said. “It’s not safe anymore because of their littering.” Another added, “It’s disrespectful to people who live and drive on the roads regularly that aren’t just seniors.”
Aside from the clean-up, ECOPC also held their second Clean Plate Challenge of the year in Raymond Dining Hall this Tuesday from 4–8 p.m., where they measured students’ leftovers before they were thrown away or composted. Approximately 162 pounds of food scraps were measured by the club during this short four hour period, about 2.5 times more waste than their last event in the fall.
Through this challenge, ECOPC hopes to raise awareness about food waste, and how it’s easy for students to decrease their waste by taking smaller portions. However, many students expressed frustration towards the dining hall’s large portion sizes given at stations that are not self-serve. This is a concern that Sodexo is currently addressing with their staff.
In addition, on Thursday, ECOPC hosted a worms and dirt dessert table in Ray. They hope to see a large turnout at their Earth Day celebration this Saturday, as well as improve environmental awareness on campus through their events.
ECOPC Measures Food Waste in Ray
Last Monday, you may have noticed something different at the Ray dish return. On Nov. 21, ECOPC hosted their annual Clean Plate Challenge. For two hours during lunchtime, volunteers from the club set up a table at the dish return area in Raymond Dining Hall and asked students to discard the leftover food from their plates into a tray which sat on a scale. The food waste was weighed and then collected in a bin for composting. The volunteers measured a total of 67.18 pounds of food waste during the two hours.
“Because people were already home for Thanksgiving, this number doesn’t even account for them,” said Sam Dietel ’23, an ECOPC executive board member. “There is likely a greater amount of food waste taking place in the dining hall than was calculated.”
The project was intended to communicate to Sodexo how much food is wasted in Ray and to raise awareness about the problem of food waste. The club displayed a poster with facts about food waste, including that 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are from food waste alone, 1/3 of produced food is wasted, 870 million people could be fed with just 1/4 of our wasted food, the U.S. alone wastes over 100 billion tons of food every year, and $1 trillion is lost globally each year from food waste. However, the event was not intended to shame students for the amount of food left on their plates.
“I just thought it was crazy how I saw multiple people with full slices of pizza and entire plates of food that they did not eat,” said Maggie Ritchie ’25, an ECOPC member who volunteered at the event. “I initially thought the food waste was going to come from large portion sizes given out by the workers, but a lot of the food waste was from the stations where people can pick how much they want, so I think students need to be more aware of the [amount of] food they are taking.”
“A lot of people don’t think about how food waste is a problem beyond just wasted food,” said Kaelin Ferland ’23, co-president of ECOPC. “It’s also an issue in terms of greenhouse gas emissions because food decomposition releases methane, which is four times stronger than carbon dioxide. Many people also don’t consider how the resources like water that went into producing the food are also wasted.”
A week prior, on Nov. 14, ECOPC hosted speaker Rose Forrest, Sustainability Coordinator at Sodexo (and chef). Students at the event expressed concerns about Sodexo’s portion sizes. Many worry they are wasting food and wasting their Friar Bucks. Forrest expressed commitment to creating a more sustainable dining program at PC.
As the event is repeated annually, ECOPC hopes to initiate such change, as they continue to collaborate with Sodexo to come up with sustainable solutions in our dining halls.
Keeping Our Community Clean
Pick Up After Yourselves, PC
“Darty” season is once again upon us, and for those who remain blissfully unaware of what this entails, don’t expect it to be pretty. Each weekend, the Providence College student body never fails to demonstrate blatant lack of respect for their neighborhood, the environment, and their fellow Friars’ off-campus homes by littering cans, bottles, vape pens—you name it—across lawns, sidewalks, and streets.
When we come to college, most of us want to be treated like the adults we are. But it’s impossible to be treated like adults if we act like children. Littering is irresponsible, disrespectful, bad for the planet, and a physical manifestation of entitlement and laziness. There is absolutely no reason to do it, and it is so easy to not do. Even on campus, where, like the blue light system, you can’t stand anywhere without seeing at least one trash and recycling bin, we wake up each Sunday morning to cans, bottles, coffee cups, and broken glass all over the ground.
Surely you wouldn’t do the same to your own house or your yard at home. So why is it okay to disrespect our campus and the surrounding community?
For years, ECOPC has been hosting Eaton St. cleanups, where a dozen or so volunteers head out before most students are awake on a Sunday morning with gloves and trash bags to pick up all the garbage. This year, one cleanup was the morning after Halloween, so costume pieces and decorations were added to the mix. Not only does this demonstrate the same blatant laziness and disrespect to our off-campus community, but it also shows a huge wastefulness problem. Most of these costumes and decorations were probably just purchased, only to be immediately thrown away—and don’t even reach the trash bin.
The 02908 Club also has their own clean-up crew who takes care of messes on the weekends, and students leasing the houses face serious fines for litter at the end of the school year. Underclassmen littering at these seniors’ houses could be costing them upwards of $250. Two weekends ago, the 02908 Club workers spent seven hours picking up trash from PC students.
Unfortunately, it is impossible and unnecessary for ECOPC members and the 02908 Club crew to clean the streets and campus every day. PC students have to start taking accountability for their own actions. There are so many easy ways to avoid littering—carrying your drinks in a reusable cup, bringing empty bottles and cans to recycling bins (Are you missing one in your dorm? Email firstname.lastname@example.org), and reminding your friends to do the same. It’s easy to have fun on the weekend without disrespecting the community and the environment.
EcoPC Hosts America Recycles Day
by Matthew Mazzella ’20
The Environmental Club of Providence College (ECOPC) and the Sustainability Representatives will be hosting an America Recycles Day Celebration on Nov. 15, which will take place on Slavin Lawn from 3:30–5:30 p.m. The event is in tangent with the nationwide celebration of “America Recycles Day,” and will dedicate the day towards educating students about recycling and sustainability.
The event will host numerous activities to encourage students to stop by and learn more about making the Earth a cleaner place. The America Recycles Day Celebration will feature games and activities designed to educate the community about the importance, logistics, and benefits of recycling. The event will also offer snacks and prizes.
Payton Morse ’20, co-president of ECOPC, has always been passionate about recycling and is really looking to improve environmental conciousness around campus.
Morse stresses the importance of being environmentally conscious by saying, “We are focusing on recycling awareness at our event. We want the PC community to get a solid grasp on how to ‘recycle right’, because has an awesome and very accessible mixed recycling program that we want to take full advantage of.”
Another serious issue on campus is the disposal of trash in designated recycling bins. If there is any trash in these bins, the products will end up in a landfill.
Morse expresses her concern regarding this issue, stating, “Here at PC we often get truckloads of recyclables sent to the landfill because our recycling is so contaminated that it cannot be recycled. It is either contaminated with food or non-recyclables such as plastic bags and trash. This is why we want to raise awareness about recycling correctly!”
Lindsey Cartier ’21, marketing executive for ECOPC, believes recycling can be easy for students to adopt and implement into their lives.
In anticipation for the upcoming event, Cartier says, “The goal of the Environmental Club of Providence College is to spread awareness and educate our college community on ways to live a more sustainable life while on campus and post-grad! I think this event will be a great opportunity to spread awareness to PC students about how important and easy it is to recycle, and more importantly to recycle correctly!”
Jack Carson ’20 has always taken sustainability seriously, and always makes an effort to cut back on using any resources he knows he can cut back on.
Carson speaks on sustainability on campus by saying, “I always try do my part when it comes to helping out the environment. Whether it be turning off the water when I brush my teeth, separating my trash from recycling, or simply turning off the lights after I leave my room, I know even the smallest actions can make a big difference when it comes to sustainability. I admire the Earth we live on and its beauty, so I try to do my best to keep it that way by recycling and conserving resources, and I hope this event will teach others the importance in doing so.”
ECOPC hopes to have a big turnout on Friday as they look to spread awareness about the environmental issues that are taking place on campus and will look to educate students on ways they can help. The club hopes attendees of the event will learn that doing your best by making an effort to be more sustainable, no matter the size of the act, can go a long way in making the world a cleaner place.