Sustainability 2020: Seven Strategies to Live Sustainably
Sustainability 2020: Seven Strategies
to Adopt Now
How do I live more sustainably? There’s no simple answer, but most experts would agree that it’s an important question for us all to consider. If you’re looking to make some changes, these suggestions from Dyson College faculty and students can help.
Power up at the Pace Solar Tree
In November 2019, Pace University unveiled a solar powered e-tree on the Pleasantville campus with Wi-Fi, six USB ports, an interactive LCD display screen, night lighting, and a panic button feature. The project was completed in collaboration with Consolidated Edison Company of New York, and serves as an energy hub and gathering place for students, faculty, and staff.
Get educated on what you eat
The Pace Resilience Summit IV, held Friday, March 6, explored the impact of meat production on climate, human consumption and nutrition, and the future of protein. Melanie DuPuis, PhD, professor and chair of the Environmental Studies and Science Department, organized the event, and panelists included authors and scientists with a range of expertise and opinions. They discussed and debate questions including, how much meat should we eat and how should it be produced? Video recordings are now available.
Vote! Vote! Vote!
Make your voice heard at the ballot box and by supporting regulations that can make a difference. One example is the Farm System Reform Act introduced by U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) to limit factory farms and strengthen protections for family farmers and ranchers, says DuPuis, professor and chair of the Environmental Studies and Science Department.
“Pick one issue you'd like to see change in and educate yourself about the policies surrounding it,” says Anne Toomey, PhD, an assistant professor in the Environmental Studies and Science Department.
Read all about it
"Writers have been providing commentary and context on environmental issues and our relationship with nature for nearly a century," says Professor Erica Johnson, PhD, who chairs the English department on the New York City campus. Johnson’s course Climate Change, Literature, and Slow Violence (LIT 296C) explores some of these works and the ways in which climate change is a social justice issue stemming from historical societal structures. “It’s mind boggling that policy is so broken still; we need the story-tellers to explain what is really happening,” says Johnson. The following books are required reading for the class:
Rachel Carson, Silent Spring
Amitav Ghosh, The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable
Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor
Aminatta Forna, Happiness (2018)
Rory Power, Wilder Girls (2019)
Amitav Ghosh, The Hungry Tide (2004)
Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones (2011)
For those more interested in a nonfiction read, Live Sustainably Now (2019) by Karl Coplan, a professor of law at Pace University’s Elisabeth Haub School of Law, chronicles his journey to reduce his carbon footprint without giving up the comforts of his suburban middle-class lifestyle.
There's a tendency to produce articles that suggest small things we can do every day, change the lightbulbs, the 3 R's, etc., but research increasingly shows that this type of messaging can be counterproductive in that it places the responsibility for sustainable action on the individual, rather on society as a whole,” says Toomey. “I would argue the most important thing we can do is to strengthen a sense of community and social justice in our culture by building social capital and engaging more with our local environment.”
To that end, Toomey suggests joining a community-based social or environmental group. There are several options for Pace University students on both campuses, including the Pace Sustainability Initiative in New York City and volunteering at the Dyson College Nature Center in Pleasantville. If you can’t commit to a group, you can donate to a reputable organization, or simply try getting to know your neighbors and attending local events and community meetings.
Consider your carbon footprint
This means taking stock of your total energy consumption.
“Evaluate your current living area and set some realistic goals for how you will reduce your current electrical use,” says Angelo Spillo, who directs the Dyson College Nature Center, part of the Dyson College Institute for Sustainability and the Environment. If you track your energy bills you should see some savings, which may provide motivation to continue, Spillo adds.
It’s also important to also try and limit the energy you use in ways that aren’t as obvious as turning off a light you aren’t using. Have you ever stopped to think about how much energy it takes to produce and deliver that new item you just bought online? "Living a minimalist lifestyle where we recognize and work to stop the consumption of materials can result in a huge reduction of emissions," says Thomas Carpenito ’21, Environmental Science, who helped found the Pace Sustainability Initiative.
Just do it, yourself
Learning a new DIY skill—how to grow your own produce or repurpose an old item into something new, for example—is another great sustainability strategy, says Toomey. If you don’t have the time or inclination to channel your inner Pinterest pro, try something as simple as learning the names of a few local trees and where to find them in your neighborhood. By sharing photos with your friends on social media you’ll help to further draw attention to the beauty of our earth and remind others of why its worth saving.