By Jana Julian | Staff Writer
In celebration of Earth Day on April 22, Kapi‘olani Community College and UH Mānoa hosted events on Wednesday (KCC) and Thursday (UH) promoting sustainable living and volunteer opportunities. Environmental groups active on campus and in the general community set up tables to share tips and information with students.
Surfrider, an organization whose goal is to eliminate the use of plastic straws on campus, gave reusable metal straws to students who signed its petition, and The Sierra Club, which gifted students with reusable bamboo sporks if they signed up to receive information about the organization.
“I am doing conservation and environmentalism simply because climate change is a global phenomenon,” said Poudrier-Tudan, a 21-year-old senior majoring in Political Science who volunteers with Sierra Club. “It’s something that’s going to affect everyone whether they believe it or not. It’s something that we need to fight against because it is a looming threat and it poses an incredible challenge to humankind and the planet as well within the next hundred years. It might be something that leads to our downfall, and this is the only way to fight against it and to try to promote a better future for tomorrow.”
Not only were organizations sharing tips for environmental change, but some of the students shared how they try to live more sustainably in their everyday life. Nikolai McDermott, a 30-year-old Kinesiology major from ‘Ewa Beach, offered tips about how he works to be less wasteful.
“I try not to waste food,” McDermott said. “I don’t buy rice, I have an ‘ulu (breadfruit) tree at the house, so I try to eat what grows in my backyard. I have a banana tree too; I use the banana peels as compost in my yard. I’ve been doing this since I was a kid because of my grandma.”
UH campuses are making efforts to be more environmentally friendly; KCC’s campus has ongoing sustainability projects. KCC’s Culinary Arts program has been providing Dr. Kathy Ogata and her chemistry students with used vegetable oil for converting it into biodiesel as an alternative to fuel.
KCC will be offering a sustainability certificate starting, which Professor Wendy Kuntz launched on Wednesday, fall of 2018. In addition to completing general education credits, students will now have the opportunity to take a combination of sustainability-focused courses and complete a capstone to earn the certificate. Included in the available classes is a sustainability-focused microeconomics course taught by Professor Jaclyn Lindo. Economics students will be analyzing energy savings due to renewable sources and possibly tying it into the general operations of various businesses such as the hospitality sector.
While the celebration of Earth Day provided a space for environmentalists to gather and encourage students to be more sustainable, on a regular basis, they are advocating on behalf of the environment. If students would like to be more involved in some of the environmental issues affecting Hawai‘i, they can attend the 2018 International Year of the Reef at the Hawai‘i State Capitol on April 26 from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.