As spring breathed fresh life into Fontbonne University’s lawns and trees, a new student-run organization began greening the school in a more metaphorical way. Led by Marielle Counts, a first-year dietetics major, the Environmental Club has begun pushing the campus community to think twice about waste, conservation, recycling and reusing.
Counts is a slight 19-year-old from Arnold, Mo., who chose Fontbonne specifically for its dietetics program.
“I have a passion for food and healthy eating, especially organic food,” she said. “I began running in high school, which led to my interest in healthy eating and becoming a dietitian. Fontbonne offered the best programs and accreditation.”
She took over as president of her high school’s environmental club her senior year. When she was accepted to Fontbonne, she found out the school didn’t have an environmental club. So she helped organize one.
“Another student began the initiative,” Counts said. “But she got too busy. So I helped with the paperwork and the draft of the constitution. And I’m glad I did.”
Fontbonne’s Environmental Club is still small, but it has seven dedicated members and many more individuals and groups who are interested and offer support. Thus far, the club has initiated new recycling programs, organized an environmental forum, hosted an Environmental Fair to coincide with Earth Day and reminded the campus community of environmentally friendly opportunities. Counts plans to hold a kick-off event at the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year — the Environmental Club’s first full year as a group.
But the Environmental Club isn’t the only entity on campus with an eye for the environment. Ameriserve, Fontbonne’s food service vendor, has a number of plans in the works for the upcoming year.
“Sustainability is important in our business because food is such a big part of people’s lives,” said Tom Mawhiney, Ameriserve’s director of dining services at Fontbonne. “Because of this, we must be good stewards in everything that we do. Sustainability will ensure that the foods we enjoy now will be available to us in the future.”
Patrons of both the cafeteria and the DSAC Caf’ can expect a replacement of all non-biodegradable containers with biodegradable or reusable containers, an expansion of the organic foods program already in place, as well as continued recycling. In the cafeteria, organic, locally sourced greens can be found on the salad bar. And until food services make the change to all reusable or biodegradable containers, patrons can purchase a reusable Griffin Go Box for a refundable $5.
Ameriserve is also partnering with the Environmental Club to achieve other goals as well, Mawhiney said.
“Ameriserve is making food more sustainable by encouraging and doing business with providers that practice sustainability in their own operations, as well as choosing sustainable products,” he added. “We’re also helping to support local farmers by buying local as much as possible.”
The visible results of all of these initiatives can be found all over campus. Barrels for aluminum can and plastic bottle recycling are conveniently located in most buildings and hallways. The newly renovated Anheuser-Busch Hall was built with sustainability in mind, and its many windows, low-flow plumbing and locally sourced building materials, among many other features, serve as reminders of the university’s commitment to the environment. And a new program, Terracycling, which transforms previously unrecyclable items like printer cartridges and cereal bags into new products, was just introduced to campus last year.
But there is still more we can do, Counts insisted.
“Think before throwing something away,” she said. “Can I reuse it? Can I recycle it? Just a little extra effort goes a long way.”
Get involved in the Environmental Club.