Student produced interview about the FIT Bottle Filling Stations
Graduation Pledge Alliance
Media Relations Contact: Anthony Buono, Coordinator, AESR
CELEBRATES 25TH ANNIVESARY
APRIL 20, 2012, WALTHAM, MA – 2012 marks the 25th anniversary of students across the nation and around the world making a commitment to promote social and environmental responsibility in their future workplaces. Started in 1987 at Humboldt State University, the Graduation Pledge of Social and Environmental Responsibility reads as follows: I pledge to explore and take into account the social and environmental consequences of any job I consider and will try to improve these aspects of any organizations for which I work. Since that initial year, more than 200,000 students have signed the Graduation Pledge.
According to Matthew Nicodemus, one of the original founders of the Pledge, “Taking the Pledge is not just signing a piece of paper or taking an abstract oath. It’s about making a lifelong commitment to pursue social and environmental responsibility in and for our real world.” For Jared Duval, a 2005 Graduation Pledge alumnus from Wheaton College in Norton, MA, that commitment translated into becoming the National Director of the Sierra Student Coalition (SSC), the nation’s largest student-run environmental organization. His experiences there lead to writing a book, Next Generation Democracy: What the Open-Source Revolution Means for Power, Politics, and Change, published by Bloomsbury in 2010. Other Pledge alums have started their own environmental organizations to address community issues, persuaded their employers to refuse weapons contracts, encouraged more sustainable practices in the workplace or refused to accept job offers from companies with poor environmental and social responsibility track records.
More than 100 participating schools run the gamut from liberal arts colleges (Bates College, Grinnell College) to state universities (Colorado, Florida) to private research universities (George Washington, Stanford) to schools outside the U.S. (Taiwan, Canada). The Pledge is also in professional schools (Culinary Institute of America, Fashion Institute of Technology) and high schools.
The Pledge operates at three levels: students and graduates making choices about their employment; schools educating about values and citizenship rather than only knowledge and skills; and the workplace and society being concerned about more than just the bottom line. The impact is immense, even if only a minority of millions of college graduating each year sign and live out the Pledge.
Mary Munion, a senior at Juniata College in Pennsylvania, is ready for her Commencement ceremony Saturday, May 12, where she will be receiving her Bachelor of Science in Business Communication. She plans to fulfill her Pledge commitment by pursuing an environmental career in business. “My plan is to go to Law School for Environmental Policy. I really want to work for a large corporation in the environmental department so I can better the quality of the environment and enable big corporations to realize that the actions they take play a huge role on the effects of our environment.” Thousands of students like Munion are taking the Pledge and planning how they will make a positive difference through social and environmental responsibility in the workplace.
The Graduation Pledge Alliance (GPA) coordinates the Pledge at the national level and is a project of the Bentley University Alliance for Ethics and Social Responsibility. Sherman Morrison, who serves as the GPA’s Executive Director, noted that, “For the first time in the history of the Graduation Pledge, any student from any school can take the Pledge online through the GPA website.” In the past, the Pledge was only made available to schools that were running an official Pledge program on their campus. “In the digital age, that just doesn’t make sense,” said Morrison. “Besides, students who are motivated enough to take the Pledge online end up being our first contact at potential new Partner Schools, so it’s a win-win strategy for getting the word out.” Information about participating in several different 25th Anniversary activities may be found by visiting the GPA website: www.graduationpledge.org.
Few weeks ago I was invited to speak about up-cycling at the annual convention of the Colegio de Disenadore-Decoradores de Interiores de Puerto Rico. It was truly an “up-lifting” event!
The conference took place in the beautiful La Concha hotel in San Juan, which itself was few years ago rescued by the local community from being demolished. The demolition already started, but was stopped by protesters, and then brought back to life and glory by the local architects!
Included in the conference was a competition organized among local students of interior design. Students were to design from discarded elements an object for interiors. All of the entries: lamps, clocks, tables, chairs proved again endless creativity of the design students. My favorite was a small night lamp with shade made out of plastic spoons.
But the most memorable were exchanges and discussions we had with designers and architects. Attendants of the convention shared with us their awareness and sensitivity of life and work on a small island where they are every day reminded of the problems the whole world is facing: finite resources and unsustainable development and consumerism. What Puerto Rico, and other small islands of the world are facing today is what the whole world will face tomorrow unless we start seriously work toward changing our modus operandi. The Earth is a small island with its limits clearly defined.
And one more thing that I will remember: the amazing hospitality and the warmth of my hosts! Thank you, my friends in Puerto Rico for inviting me!
What makes our food choices Sustainable?
Join Chef Michael Cokkinos on Thursday, April 26 at 1PM in Room A734 for answers about Sustainable Cuisine and a delicious tasting and demonstration.
Our choices and those of the retailers and wholesalers we buy from affect the
environment, the economy and everyone’s quality of life. I believe it is important to be aware of and concerned about where our food comes from and the impact it has on all of us.
By eating sustainably we can have a huge impact on the environment.
Small farms that produce a wide variety of crops allow for greater
biodiversity than do massive monocultures. By buying locally, we
lessen the environmental costs associated with the transportation of
food — costs such as increased air pollution, the use of fossil fuels,
and damage to roadways and the oceans. Refrigeration of food that
needs to be transported a long way uses energy and can involve the use of ozone-depleting gases that ultimately affect the whole planet. Excess packaging and processing of our foods also creates a strain on the environment.
Eating a plant based diet has a much lower impact than a high protein, meat diet.
When choosing fish and meat know your sources. If it was farmed, was it raised with an
appropriate vegetarian diet and according to environmentally sound methods? If wild, where
was it caught? How was it caught? Should it be caught, or protected because the species is
threatened? Does it have a high by catch percentage that adversely impacts other marine animals?
Similarly, we need to ask questions about where our meat comes from and how the animals
were raised and slaughtered. Livestock needs to be humanely treated, fed the purest natural feeds
(with no animal by products or waste), never given growth hormones or antibiotics,
and raised on land cared for as a sustainable resource.
Principles of Sustainability:
• Celebrate the joys of local, seasonal and
• Understand the source of the ingredients
— the way they have been grown, raised
• Support sustainable agriculture and
aquaculture, humane animal husbandry
practices and well-managed fisheries.
• Purchase from purveyors whose conservation
practices lessen our impact on the environment.
• Choosing sustainable food products is
about more than helping the environment.
It’s about sustaining the heritage
and the economy of whole communities.
Respecting local economies, traditions
and habitats are important parts of
participating in a sustainable food system.
• Cook seasonally; do not buy fruits and vegetables out of season.
• Always buy locally whenever possible and buy directly from the grower or from a source
as close as possible to where the product is grown.
• Join a CSA or work with a local farmer who will supply you with seasonal
produce of your choosing.
• Support farmers’ markets and farm stands.
• The next time you are in your supermarket talk to the produce manager.
Tell the manager of your concern about pesticides and let him or
her know you would prefer to buy local or regional produce and certified
organic food if possible.
• Ask your grocers and suppliers about the farms where the meat
and poultry they sell is raised and how it is raised. If they do not
know, ask them to find out. Support grocers and butchers who
get their supplies from farmers who do not use factory-farming techniques.
• Ask how the fish you buy is caught, either by using sustainable practices or by
practices damaging to the environment, and whether it is wild or farm raised.
• Learn which fish species are endangered from over fishing.
• Read labels; find out what ingredients or additives are in the food you are eating.
• Complete the cycle by composting and recycling.
• Educate yourself about food, understand the issues, and let your legislators know
how you feel about food management issues.
To learn much more: join the FIT CULINARY ARTS CLUB.
Checkout my blog, with comments from students, regarding the current sustainability initiatives of Kate Spade, Whole Foods, The Container Store, Falling Whistles, and Indego Africa.
Also, learn more about the natural dye work the Textile Arts Center is doing with the new Sewing Seeds / CSA dye garden project: http://textileartscenterblog.com/category/sewing-seeds/