My Journey to Environmental Awareness with EAC

Recently I’ve been researching and learning more about sustainability, environmental impact, products that leave less of a footprint than others (sustainable fashion and bamboo toothbrushes, anyone?). But I know I’m not the only one that’s been concerned about the environment lately. After all, last month, so many of us here at Adelphi and in surrounding areas went to the Climate Strike in NYC. We’re taking responsibility for our waste and trying to clean things up! Yay for progress! Whether you joined the march or just started using paper straws, there’s always so much more we can do to make a positive impact on Mother Nature.

I decided my next step for becoming more environmentally conscious would be to sit down with EAC, Adelphi’s very own Environmental Action Coalition. Their mission involves promoting sustainability and environmental awareness on campus through different events and partnerships. I figured the best way to get a feel for the organization would be to interview their president, Alina Campbell. Afterward, Alina invited me to one of their events, where they spoke with an environmental lobbyist who is looking to bring the conversation of climate change to our campus.

Check out my conversation with Alina below on what EAC is all about, and how she got involved: 

Valencia: What is the mission of EAC?

Alina: To foster and promote sustainability on and off-campus, as well as environmental awareness. It’d be great if Adelphi were more green. Sustainability is a way to do it, by making sure we don’t keep using things that we just throw out every day, and instead use items that can last. That’s pretty much what sustainability is on the surface.

Valencia: I love that! I agree, sustainability and environmental awareness are super important, especially with all that’s been going on. So now I’m curious, why did you start EAC? 

Alina: EAC was a club years ago, at least dating back to 2014. However, during my freshman and sophomore year, I couldn’t find it on campus because it was not affiliated with CSI at one point. When I reached out to ask about the club, I was told that the president was a senior who was graduating. They asked if I wanted to take over, and it took off from there.

For me, EAC is so important because the environment affects literally everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, background, class… from the water you drink to the air you breathe, it affects everyone. So we should all have some type of knowledge and care about it. EAC is the conduit where we can collaborate with each other and see what we can do to help.

Valencia: That’s interesting. So EAC was actually on campus before, just not as active. I’m glad you brought it back. 

Alina: That’s right, we became an official CSI recognized club again in 2017. And thanks!

Valencia: No problem! Now when it comes to environmentalism and sustainability, what personally attracted you to those causes in particular?

Alina: Well, I’ve always been involved with environmental issues. In high school, I actually did science a research project on microplastics and water and how that affects water quality, specifically in the Hudson River. Like I did projects and did a whole project on it. So that’s the start technically, but I was always interested in science. I ended up presenting my project for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an agency that a woman named Judith Enck was part of. She ended up coming to Adelphi to speak, and she recognized me (and gave me a little shout out)! 

After that, professors came up to me afterward and asked me if I want to get more involved in the cause.

Valencia: Wow, that’s great! You’ve been for-the-cause since high school. Now here on campus, what are some of the projects/events EAC has had so far?

Alina: Just this semester, we had a fun pumpkin decorating event where we had food and a game with lots of spooky facts. For example, the fact that pounds upon pounds of Halloween costumes get thrown out every year and end up in landfills. So it was about connecting with new members but also about educating people. With costumes like we mentioned before, we can always reuse them or donate them to thrift shops, they don’t have to be thrown out.

Alina: In the past, we’ve done Car Free Day, and last year we won in the county! We also work with the Community Oyster Restoration Effort (C.O.R.E.) to promote their events, such as the Oyster Festival that happens every year on Long Island. They take oyster shells that people eat and plant them in the bays (to help with the decreased population of oysters). Oysters are important because they filter crazy amounts of water every day, just one oyster. So they’re very important for sustaining our water quality.

The Climate Strike we did of course, where we made signs and collaborated with other organizations. Kathleen Watchhorn, Professor Melanie Bush, and other hands were on deck to help with those collaborations.

We’ve also done a sustainability transportation challenge with an organization called 511 RideShare where you track your transportation with an app, like tracking, “I biked… I ran… etc” and the winners of that challenge received a prize.

Alina: We did Recycle-Mania with SGA. We also host events like movie nights and showing featured documentaries. We helped ELC’s butterfly garden last semester… a lot!

We’ve also affected change on campus by holding the administration responsible for using sustainable materials and practices while they build the new UC building. We asked for wash stations for silverware, so you don’t have to throw things away all the time, and potentially composting. It made it to the faculty senate, and it was said to be effective.

Valencia: Wow… sounds like EAC has been super effective in creating change both on and off-campus. That’s amazing! I’ll make sure to keep an eye out for any initiatives you all do in the future and get involved! And now, I’m thinking about the HC reader who is thinking about getting involved but  wants to get more of a feel of if EAC is right for them. Tell me, what does a typical EAC member look like? Who should join?

Alina: As I said before, the environment affects everyone. So pretty much everyone is the short answer *speaking through laughs*, but I would say that anyone who really wants to make a difference and have their voice heard should join. We’re really open to new ideas and collaboration. For example, I really want to work with the art department for a visual display. Really the environmental cause requires people of every field to come together and help the community learn. Any type of major - Art, Biology, English, Political Science (a lot of changes are made through legislation), etc. can help. All hands on deck!

There really is no prototype EAC member. It’s really anyone who cares about the environment and cares about people because those go hand in hand. 

Valencia: What else would you like our HC readers to know about EAC?

Alina: We’re really open to ideas, members, and that you’ll definitely have your voice heard. We’re not a cookie-cutter club, and we’re very much interested in collaborating and helping in any way that we can. Like I said, we need all hands on deck. I will say, too, if you want to be a part of it, you don’t need any prior experience. If you’re a freshman thinking, “I don’t know if I could be…”, you’re fine. For example, I was never the president of any club before this. You are supported!

Valencia: Thank you so much, Alina. Lastly, where can the people find EAC? And what’s the IG handle so we can follow what you guys are up to?

Alina: Yes, so our IG is @eacpanthers. We follow back, so no need to worry there. We also meet every week, Thursday, at 4:30pm in Nexus 159.

After interviewing Alina, she invited me to an event where they spoke to an active environmental lobbyist (yup, we’re talking legislation, baby). 

When I went to the event, I was happy to see some familiar faces, and to see how welcoming the e-board was. I could tell everyone in the room really cared about the environment and wanted to make a difference. The speaker was Glenn Jacob, an environmental lobbyist and executive director of NY Interfaith Power and Light. He spoke about being a community organizer and talking to politicians about climate change. I learned about the ways that we need to adapt to climate change, such as changing how we consume food, create waste, transport, and use energy. 

Lastly, Jacob previewed the Climate Summit 2020 event that will take place on April 20, 2020, from 1:00-4:00pm in the Alumnae House on Adelphi’s campus. The aim is to feature empowering workshops, have engaging roundtable discussions, and teach attendees how to effectively talk about climate change. Not only that, but there’s an opportunity to network with outside environmental organizations as well.

Speaking to Alina and going to this event where I learned about the Climate Summit has helped me learn so much more about what can and needs to be done to help the environment. The awareness and resources I have now to create real environmental change? Priceless. Thanks again to Alina and EAC for all the work you’re doing, and for sitting down with me!

 

HCXO,

Valencia