Jul 08, 2020
Nicole Lucha (left) and Anthony Anderson (right) tests students on whether or not they know the difference between tap water and bottled water, at the Earth Day event in the memorial garden. (Khone Saysamongdy/The Collegian)

Saving the environment one step at a time

Shaving a few minutes off showers can save thousands of gallons of water and carpooling to class or work can greatly reduce vehicle emissions. It is the small changes that add up to big differences for the environment.

Members of the student-run Fresno State Sustainability Project reminded their peers to think of sustainability measures like those above and more as part of an on-campus Earth Day celebration Wednesday.

Chemistry student Josh Akana who attended the event said it was important for students to think about sustainability.

“It’s good to see our peers value keeping our Earth clean and environmentally stable because we’re going to be living here for a while and future generations for even longer,” Akana said. “We only have one Earth.”

Akana participated in the Take Back the Tap challenge, one of the many booths at the event, to see if he could taste the difference between tap water and bottled water. Like many students who took part in the challenge, Akana struggled to correctly differentiate between the waters. He said he was not surprised, though, because he only drinks tap water out of a reusable bottle.

Criminology student Antonio Cortez was also stumped by the tap challenge, but he said it was not enough to convert him to a tap water drinker. Still, he agreed it was important for students to at least start thinking about the things they can do to improve the environment.

“These events help people become aware and teaches them ways to use this or that to save the environment,” Cortez said. “We’ve gotta save the green.”

Getting students to think about sustainability was the main goal of the event, said Johnathan Benson, environmental science student and president of the sustainability project.

“We’re just trying to get the word of sustainability out to the campus,” Benson said. “We’re just trying to get students to think about the changes they can make in their daily lives.”

Benson was part of the sustainability project when it started four years ago. He said being an outdoorsy kid and having a love for science made sustainability a natural interest of his.

Overall, Benson said he was pleased with the turnout that included tables by student organizations, campus departments, companies that promote environmentally friendly products and even the Dutch Bros. Coffee truck.

One student organization, the Applied Behavioral Analysis club, represented by graduate student Blaine Hockridge was sharing ways to alter behavior. Hockridge gave examples of leaving colorful Post-it notes as reminders to take shorter showers and turning in recyclables for money to alter bad habits.

Stephanie Chavez, agriculture communication student and employee of Fresno State facilities management, was telling attendees about steps the university has taken to improve its carbon footprint. She said the campus installed solar panels over parking lots, traded normal plants for drought-tolerant varieties and installed 860 low-energy LED lights among other efforts.

“It’s good for students to see and learn about what their school is doing sustainability wise,” Chavez said. “For example, a lot of students see natural light in the north wing of the library, but they don’t know that was intentional to save power. If students see the school setting a good example, they can follow.”

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