California State University, Long Beach
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Eco-friendly “Why We Care” Event Set For Oct. 24 In Student Union

Published: October 15, 2012

Going green is more than a fad at CSULB where Financial Management, Physical Planning and Facilities Management, the Associated Students Inc. and the Campus Sustainability Taskforce are showcasing the university’s eco-friendly way of life by hosting “Why We Care” in the University Student Union Ballroom on Wednesday, Oct. 24, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in conjunction with ASI’s ECO Week. Admission is free.

“Why We Care” offers insight into the environmental damage occurring every day as a result of destructive human habits, said event organizer Ellie Christov, Financial Management’s Director of Support Services.

“We want to show the real impact we have as humans to our planet, from creating the problems to how we can help resolve them,” she said. “Another part of our exhibit will display the sustainable practices that CSULB has already implemented which underlines the university’s dedication to the environment. Also, we will encourage the campus community to get involved and make changes in their personal daily lives. There will be campus, city and vendor displays, as well as organic refreshments and a grand prize raffle. Participants who pledge to begin a sustainable practice will receive a reusable water bottle.”

The “Why We Care” event profiles Earth’s most environmentally challenging problems of land, air and water pollution, seeking to tie together particular problems to possible solutions, to help people understand and get involved. “How do we reduce our negative impact?” asked Christov. “How do we reuse what we already have? We are hoping that everyone will come away from this event with a renewed sense of how urgent this matter is and what they can do to make a difference.”

CSULB’s commitment to sustainability is reinforced by events like these, said Susan Ransom, special projects coordinator for Support Services. “One of our most important goals is to demonstrate what our university does every day to help the environment,” she said. “There are reutilization, waste reduction, recycling collections, and green energy and building efforts all over campus. There are battery, writing instruments, toner cartridges, metal, wood, glass and paper collections just to name a few. There are also plastic bottle collection containers and water refilling stations for those using reusable bottles.”

“Why We Care” places a priority on information, said Christov. “Change is embraced if there is an understanding of why changes are being implemented all over campus. It is to make our university a greener campus with a reduced carbon footprint,” she explained. “We want to engage the campus community to participate in fulfilling President F. King Alexander’s climate commitment.”

“Why We Care” began for Support Services with a sustainability conference held in May at UC Davis. “We discovered one of the biggest challenges to ‘greening’ of a university was that so many in the community did not fully understand the real impact non-sustainable practices have,” said Christov.” We have realized how much we didn’t know when we started this extensive research a few months ago and felt it was necessary to share this with our campus community. This became the first step of our mission to find greener ways of doing business. Why do we want to protect our environment? And that is how the name of the event came to be. It is why we care.”

Ransom has made life-changing commitments once she learned the enormous impact human activity had on the planet. She hopes that all who attend make similar commitments once they see the exhibit.

“When I visited a restaurant recently, I brought my own Tupperware for dinner leftovers because now I know that Styrofoam is such an environmental disaster. The waitress was impressed and we discussed sustainability,” she laughed.

Why do we care event

“Why We Care” will offer refreshments such as fresh, organically grown fruit and vegetables but no donuts or sodas. It will profile local Long Beach organic gardens and why it is important to buy local and grow organic. It also will display individual department efforts such as how the print shop has begun to reuse boxes the copier program delivers paper in and how the Property Department holds a sale every year to promote property item reuse and how it began having an annual Swap Surplus Supplies event for staff to trade unneeded supplies for something they can use.

“This event will open a lot of eyes on campus. I want people to start thinking and talking about this issue. There are serious air and water problems in Southern California and I feel this event will help educate CSULB about them. We’re very excited,” Ransom said.

Their new experience with an eco-friendly lifestyle already has changed lives, Christov said. “We’ve stopped using Ziploc bags and buying any single-use items, reduced our meat consumption and talking about sustainability is constant,” she said. “This event has been very educational for us and we are realizing how much more there is to learn. Our sensitivity to sustainability even affects what we order for our department. We often ask ourselves, do we really need this? Is it made out of recycled materials? How are these things recycled afterwards? We can’t help it, we care.”

“Why We Care” will be the hit they hope for if it starts more people at CSULB talking about sustainability which Ransom defines as a sense of responsibility for environmental, economic and social issues.

“We need to tell people about these issues,” she said. “If participants walk away with a couple of facts about sustainability, then pass on those facts to others, we have achieved our goal and this event will be considered a success. It could have a huge impact on our campus community.”

Christov encourages the whole campus to attend ECO Week and “Why We Care” at CSULB. “It’s free knowledge. Someone has done the research for you,” she said. “Walk through and become aware. Plus, you can win a bicycle!”

Ransom agrees. “Come, be amazed and learn how to change the world,” she said.