Bulletin News

Get Caught Being Green for Sustainability Month


Not everyone thinks of October as the month for carving jack-’o-lanterns, turning up the thermostat and trick-or-treating.

Some people think of it as the time to pick locally grown pumpkins, wear sweaters indoors and recycle whatever’s in the closet and the junk drawer into a Halloween costume.

If you fall into the second category, SUNY Cortland’s Green Reps are looking for you.

In recognition of National Campus Sustainability Month, students involved with the SUNY Cortland Green Representative Program are keeping their eyes open for students drinking from reusable water bottles, riding red campus bikes, printing on both sides of their paper or doing any other sustainable activity.

Those spotted being environmentally responsible may win a prize.

“Get Caught Being Green” is an initiative to help spread awareness about how students can live a sustainable life on campus and beyond.

“Sustainability means something different for everyone. We want to make it relatable for students and something that interests them,” said Robert Binnall, assistant director of Residence Life and Housing for Operations.

Earlier this month, Green Reps began searching campus for students who are participating in a sustainable lifestyle and rewarding them with refillable water bottles, umbrellas, reusable bags and ASC gift cards. Students can also enter contests to win prizes by posting a picture of themselves doing sustainable activities on Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #GetCaughtBeingGreen.

All year long, Green Reps hold events in residence halls and throughout campus to spread awareness about how students can live an environmentally friendly life. Each residence hall does something different. The events include game nights, scavenger hunts and even showings of Disney’s “Moana” to teach students how Polynesian people protect the ocean. A calendar of events is available online.

Not sure how to live sustainably? The Green Reps worked together to compile a list of “green hacks” that students can follow to save energy, water and money. These tips include shortening shower time, printing double-sided and opening the shades to use natural light instead of lamps.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), nearly one trillion plastic bags are used yearly on a global scale, but only 5 percent are recycled. To combat this problem, Green Reps have started a plastic bag initiative in every residence hall. Students are encouraged to put their unwanted plastic bags in boxes for the Green Reps to collect and recycle. For the fall semester, Green Reps have set a goal of gathering 18,000 bags. Through Oct. 11, 6,431 have been collected. Nearly 32,000 plastic bags were collected and recycled last year.

SUNY Cortland is leading the way in reducing its carbon footprint. The College was the first SUNY school to sign the American College and University Climate Commitment, pledging the campus to pursuing the elimination of its greenhouse gas emissions. SUNY Cortland was also the first to use 100 percent renewable energy for its electricity needs. The College earned a gold rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) for being one of the most environmentally sustainable colleges in the nation.

The Green Reps hope to inspire environmentally-conscious behaviors in students that will last a lifetime.

Sustainability is important to Jennifer Vaughan ’16, a graduate assistant in the Residence Life and Housing Office and the Green Reps Coordinator. Vaughan, who majored in childhood education and is currently working on a master’s degree in therapeutic recreation, is planning on a teaching career.

“I want my students to live in a world where there is nature. If we don’t live sustainably now, they might not be able to enjoy our planet. It’s important to make change now so we can enjoy it in the future,” she said.

For more information, contact Vaughan or Binnall at 607-753-4724.

Prepared by Communications Office writing intern McKenzie Henry