STJ Sustainability: Making a difference

The sustainability organization I work at donated food to 131 families in need from its gardens in one month. It takes scraps like the inedible parts of pineapples and turns it into compost. It donated each weekday, for 6 weeks this summer, between five and six large contractor-size garbage bags filled with 20-50 pounds of food to the city’s s food pantry, City Harvest.

Where is this organization from? You might be surprised, but it’s right here at St. John’s.

Over the course of this summer I had the pleasure of being a student worker in the Office of Sustainability. The things we were able to accomplish with the basic tools of student-power and leadership were really eye opening to me. Specifically, the work I did with food recovery and distribution is what I am most proud of.

Sometimes the student-driven initiatives on campus can really surprise you; a lot can be accomplished with a little heart, elbow grease and stick-to-it-iveness. These initiatives can also make you realize how easy it is to make a difference and how each of us should be doing a little more to help build a more sustainable future.

Mentioned above are three programs that have now becoming permanent fixtures in St. John’s environmental and charitable consciousness: recycling unused lunches, the organic garden and composting.

So the next time you see students walking around with those big and goofy blue barrels filled with food scraps from the dining hall campus kitchens mixed with some wood chips and spent coffee grinds, remember that those food scraps are being turned into compost and then spread on selected grassy areas on campus that need a nutrient boost.

Next time you walk by Student Community Organic Garden, know that all of those peppers and cherry tomatoes have gone to St. John’s Bread and Life soup kitchen in Brooklyn.  They take whatever food St. Johns gives them and incorporate it into the produce in the food pantry that feeds the hungry during that week.

There is a somewhat of a proverb that we like to throw around the office, “think globally, act locally.”  I wholeheartedly believe that the initiatives I worked on this summer embody this message.

There will always be more that can be done and many of the other offices on campus are involved with so many great programs, but I think that as a university where minds are molded and motivation is high, we should always keep the question in the back of our minds, how can we make a difference?