Purchase College Community Embodies Sustainability

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On Friday, May 2nd, members of the campus community worked to help reduce the carbon footprint of Purchase College.

For its 9th annual Clean and Green Day, the Purchase College Beautification Committee joined with members of the Facilities Management grounds department and additional staff, faculty, and students to spruce up the area around the Admissions and Human Resources Buildings adding shrubs and flowers to the landscape.

In what has become an annual tradition, the group also planted a tree—this year, a Red Maple (acer rubrum)—in the grassy area adjacent to the driveways that serve the admissions area and the Children’s Center.

Also on Friday, a ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrated the latest initiative of the Sustainability Committee: the launch of The Rocket composting system. Installed last winter behind Campus Center North, the composting machine will turn food waste from the Hub and coffee grounds from Starbucks into compost to be used mainly in the vegetable gardens maintained by students behind the Dance Building.

Anna Palmer ’15, environmental studies major, pedaled the quadracycle-turned-compost hauler—complete with a sign that reads “Keep Calm and Compost”—that she’ll use to move the food scraps to the composter as the resident “compost master.”

The initiative reflects the college’s commitment to environmental sustainability, as well as its strong tradition of engaging students in community and social activism. Co-chairs of the Sustainability Committee, Assistant Professor of Sociology Matthew Immergut and Associate Professor of New Media, Brooke Singer, spearheaded the effort to bring The Rocket to campus.

“The Rocket is part of a bigger vision of sustainability on campus,” according to Immergut. “In any sustainability program, you need to close the loop. And now, instead of throwing the food away, we’re composting it, and closing the loop.”

Both Immergut and Singer plan to integrate the initiative into their courses.

Immergut plans to incorporate learning about the composter into his environmental sociology class, explaining that, “Recently sociology has become more concerned with ecological issues and environmental activism.” Singer plans to have students in her Information Aesthetics class take raw data from the composter and make it visual. “By building a graphic interface, students can visualize the live data stream from the composter to show how much food is being processed,” she explains.

The Rocket was paid for by the mandatory student Green Fee.

Click here to learn more about The Rocket.

Pictured: Purchase College President Schwarz (center) with Anna Palmer ’15, compost master (right) and friends.

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