Sustainability Committee spreads eco-awareness

By Daniel Hernandez, Advocate Staff

When you throw your soda bottle into the recycling bin do you ever think of why that big blue bin sits there?

When you throw your waste into the recycling or compost bins on campus it’s an unconscious contribution to the cause of the Contra Costa College Sustainability Committee, which has set out to help the environment.

“We have very good members on the committee,” Buildings and Grounds Manager Bruce King said. “I’ve got students, I’ve got faculty members, I’ve got classified staff.”

The committee is comprised of faculty, staff and student members from all around the campus including the automotive department, culinary arts and Middle College High School.

However, regularly participating college students are a missing piece in the committee.

The committee meets the first Thursday of each month in the Building and Grounds Building conference room. The next meeting will be Thursday at 7 a.m.

The committee is responsible for the recycling bins, motion sensor water fountains and an organic waste dumpster out by the Comet Baseball and Softball fields, among other things.

“We planted 50 Redwood trees on campus that were donated by EBMUD (East Bay Municipal Utility District). We got a grant from city of Richmond to put in LED lighting on the upper part of campus that saves us energy,” King said.

Through the power of the committee they are able to create an impact on campus, but it is not all as easy as it sounds.

“We’re expected by senior management to be proactive on stuff, but it is hard to do that with no money at all,” King said.

At one point this was the case when the committee had no money, but with advertisements placed on the recycle bins bringing in $300 a month, small renovation projects around campus receive funding.

“With our budget and also working some other budgets on the campus, we’re looking at replacing two drinking fountains,” King said, “one in the Student Services Center and one in the Library.”

Each fountain costs around $4,500 and each is expected to be installed later this year.

With Earth Day and Arbor Day just around the corner the spring semester is an active time for the Sustainability Committee

“We host three major events during the year and one is coming up. We’re celebrating Arbor Day. We’ll be planting 10 fruit trees up at the garden area,” King said.

King said college President Katrina VanderWoude is expected to make an appearance at the Arbor Day festivities and the culinary arts department is expected to cater the event.

“We do a big celebration of Earth Day. We’ll have 15 to 20 organizations in the quad on April 22.” King said.

There will be food, music and different organizations will be handing out information, free seeds and totes.

MCHS student Aman Butt said, “I would definitely say that the Sustainability Committee is overlooked just because of the fact that it’s not something that’s fancy.”

He has been an active member since the beginning of last fall semester.

Butt is also a senator in the Associated Students Union where his role is to maintain communication on finance between the two groups.

Butt said, “If this campus wasn’t clean and spotless then nobody would want to attend here.”

Culinary arts department Chairperson Nader Shakes said he is an original member of the Sustainability Committee.

“We still see lots of usage of paper and printed materials, but we’d like to see less of that,” Sharkes said.

As culinary department chairperson he said he tries to make efforts to reduce their usage of cardboard and non-recyclable plastics.

King said, “Not bragging about our school, but we have contacted sustainability committees at DVC and Los Medanos and usually they have like three, maybe four members.”

King said he wants more students to join the Sustainability Committee to bring in fresh ideas to improve the campus environmentally.