MOORHEAD – Concordia was included in the Princeton Review’s 2023 list of most environmentally responsible colleges according to Concordia’s website. With a campus that seems to be very passionate about sustainability, many people and resources contribute to sustainability programs each year.
Many of Concordia’s sustainability programs had been shut down due to the pandemic approximately three years ago according to Concordia’s Sustainability Coordinator, Sarah Orr. Orr is new to Concordia this year, starting her role back in Aug. She has many ideas for the future of Concordia’s sustainability.
“There is just a large variety of things that sustainability office is doing, for sure. A few of these are things that we’re kind of bringing back this year. Specifically, Taste not Waste and the Green Office Program. Those are two initiatives that are like being brought back to the surface after COVID,” Orr said.
Another initiative that was brought back after the pandemic was having EcoReps for all of the dorm buildings, said Orr.
“I do little things to help essentially boost campus sustainability as well as awareness. A big part of my job is like, making sure that the student body is aware of the importance of sustainability and the things that we have going on here for sustainability.” first-year student and Livedalen’s first year EcoRep, Beth Duppong said.
The EcoReps have meetings with each other to discuss how to make Concordia’s dorms as sustainable as possible according to Duppong. A new sustainability measure thought of by the EcoReps is the use of composting bins in dorm buildings.
“So, if you make one of your little compost bins that you use, once it’s full, you take it to the giant compost bin at your dorm building. And then every week we take it out to the Cornucopia Garden. It’s a way to reduce food waste here on Concordia, while also helping to feed people with the garden,” Duppong said.
EcoReps and the programs that they have implemented have had a largely positive impact on students who live in residence halls.
“I am very excited that we have EcoReps. I live in Livedalen, and as a new student it was really nice to know how much Concordia cares about sustainability. I just appreciate it a lot. Plus, the compost bins are great and I’m glad to have the opportunity to put my food waste to use,” first-year student, India Carlson said.
Student voices are very important in discussions regarding sustainability because of the effects that climate change could have on the rest of their lives, said Orr.
“(Students) do have very important voices because the effects of climate heating are going to affect this generation and their children. So there’s really not an option to not care at this point. And more and more, we’re trying to be intentional about how we talk about these changes,” Orr said.
The main, long-term focus of the sustainability office is Concordia’s Climate Action Plan (CAP). Concordia’s CAP is a plan for Concordia to eventually become carbon neutral and partnering with the community to build resilience to climate change, according to Duppong.
“Our climate action plan really is where we’re set to go within the next few years. So, right now we’re in the implementation phase of it,” Orr said.
Being sustainable can be seen as a difficult task, but there are everyday things that students can do to reduce their carbon footprint, said Duppong.
“You could use the dryers instead of the paper towels in the bathrooms. I mean, you could just make sure you turn the lights off and things like that. So, there’s little things that you can do. And then there is the student environmental alliance, and there are plenty of events that CEC might host that anybody can take part in really, and then when we host our events like our food gratitude event or the Choose to Reuse, everybody is invited to participate in that regardless of level of knowledge,” Duppong said.
“Especially now, I feel like sustainability is going to be more engaging and fun and exciting as we change our initiatives and programs a little bit. Yeah. So, I think it’s a great time to get involved. And also, my interns, right now are so strong, and they’re so excited. And so being in a space like that, I think is just like really positive,” Orr said.
Sustainability is a key focus of Concordia, and the college encourages students to be environmentally conscious through sustainability initiatives and events.
“(College) is a time for us to think about who we want to be and the way that we want to live our life and we’re just kind of blooming and developing these adulting habits early. And, in terms of making a sustainable impact, the earlier the better, honestly,” Duppong said.