Save Our Planet, One Campus at a Time

Save Our Planet, One Campus at a Time

By Wylie Post, Contributing Writer.

October is Campus Sustainability Month, and UMF is making sure to do its part through educating and creating opportunities for students and staff to get involved.

Many students at UMF and across the country are aware of climate change and global warming. However, the difference between these two commonly gets confused.

“‘Global warming refers to observed increases in average surface temperatures on Earth” while climate change “refers to changing patterns or trends in “long-term weather,” says Mark Pires, UMF’s sustainable campus coordinator.

In the most recent climate report from the UN, the panel discussed the harmful impacts the earth will take sooner in the future rather than later. The increase in carbon dioxide, mainly fossil fuels, has created higher temperatures in the atmosphere, which is now called ‘global warming’.

Image from United Nations

The UN believes that within the next 30 years, the environment and climate will continue to get worse if nothing is done.

The world has faced many catastrophic disasters. Flash floods, heatwaves, forest fires, and even historic droughts have occurred within the past ten years. Many of these disasters are due to the fact that the people who roam the Earth and call it their home are not taking care of it.

In 2019, students at UMF gathered on Mantor Green to increase awareness of climate change. The students were able to gather over 200 signatures on a petition to help the battle.

Local stores like The Outskirts, Touch of Class, and the Farmington Thrift Shop are all located downtown in Farmington and provide ways for students to shop green.

“Manufacturing new clothes creates a crazy carbon and water footprint,” says  Aiden Saulnier, co-student leader of SCC in 2019.

Throughout the country, civilians have discussed their beliefs on global warming and whether it is accurate or not. Most famously coming from the former President, Donald J. Trump, in a tweet, “I don’t think it’s a hoax, I think there’s probably a difference. But I don’t know that it’s manmade,” when discussing climate change. However, campuses worldwide have discovered new ways to be environmentally conscious with climate change activism clubs and even more. At UMF, the Sustainable Campus Coalition gathers students to discuss climate change, global warming, and how students can adjust their daily routines to create a more sustainable place to live.

Worldwide, climate change has been a huge discussion. It is the student’s duty on campus to be aware of these environmental issues and how to deal with them.

“I think that students should take notice of the information they hear about climate change, think carefully and critically about what is being said and who is saying it, and arrive at their own conclusions as to how best to interpret and understand what is happening on the planet at the moment,” Pires said.

After discussing the climate report from the United Nations and the historical changes on our planet within the past ten years, it is well noted that something needs to change. If not, this Earth is destined for darkness. The people are the only ones who can help stop global warming and live healthier.

Make sure to stop by the Ed. Center in room 113 on Fridays during Common Time at the Sustainable Campus Coalition.

“UMF students can keep an eye out for announcements coming out soon around campus and on social media about a series of events being planned by the Sustainable Campus Coalition to acknowledge Campus Sustainability Month during October,” Pires said.

There are several ways students can practice sustainability on campus. “A major thing would be for students to purchase reusable water bottles and bags, as many students already do,” student Kayleigh Brisard said.  Students can also find recycling bins around campus in each building.

Paper adds up quickly, so another way to spread awareness for climate change and to practice sustainability is to go paperless! Google Docs, Microsoft Word, and Pages are all free and easily accessible resources for students to take notes on their laptops and reduce the amount of paper being used. Reusable to-go containers are also available at UMF!

UMF also has a community garden for students to use! Gardening is a simple and fun way to get involved with cleaning up the earth and making good use of the environment.

Cleaning up on campus is extremely important and a great way to practice sustainable living in order to reduce global warming and climate change. Remember the golden rule… reduce, reuse, and recycle.

UMF Dining Hall Introduces Reusable To-Go Containers

By Annie Newman, Staff Writer.

With the Dining Hall returning to “normal,” one new addition combines the accommodating ways of COVID-19 with UMF’s drive for eco-friendliness: reusable to-go containers.

They allow students to take home a meal or any leftovers from the Dining Hall with a $5 deposit that the student gets back at the end of the year. For those who wish to socially distance themselves, it provides a meal without needing to be in the crowded dining hall.

“You fill up whatever you want in here with food, you bring us back the container, rinse it out, and we’ll give you another one,” manager for Sodexo at UMF Adam Vigue said. “We wash all the containers so we make sure it’s safe, so it’s gone through the Board of Health.”

As of Sept. 7, Vigue estimated that the dining hall had given out between 20 to 25 of them.

One of the bigger benefits that the containers promote is the drastic reduction of trash. Dex LaFrance, a sophomore at UMF, remembers last year when this was not the case.

“The plastic packets with the napkin and the plastic utensils, those were all over campus last year,” LaFrance said.

“We’re going through way less trash packaging wise,” Vigue said Sept. 13. “Last year we had a dumpster that we needed to bring in just to keep up with all the trash we had. We no longer need that.”

As a campus that prides itself on sustainability, the disappearance of styrofoam and plastic-packaged meals can be a welcoming sight in the dining hall. With the reusable containers, sustainability on the tail-end of a pandemic is on the rise.

UMF Students Rally Support to Fight Climate Change

UMF Students Rally Support to Fight Climate Change

Kaitlynn Tarbox Contributing Writer

    UMF students and members of the Sustainable Campus Coalition (SCC) gathered on the Mantor Green recently to gather support for the petition to fight climate change.  A small group of students joined together on the Green to fight for something they are passionate about: climate change. Students placed their signs against the stone wall and music played loudly from the speakers on either side of it. 

   Aiden Saulnier, co-student leader of SCC, said in an email interview, “This strike felt hopeful, because many students joined us and we had tons of signatures.” 

    The SCC had close to 200 signatures from their strike and also from tabling outside of the dining hall.  Saulnier said, “Besides signing our petition, and putting pressure on institutional power structures, students can make individual choices that are eco-friendly.” 

    Saulnier suggested methods of helping the environment can be buying clothing from a thrift store because “manufacturing new clothes creates a crazy carbon and water footprint.”  People are also encouraged to use reusable water bottles, school supplies, and to reduce, reuse, and recycle. “When at the dining hall,” Saulnier said, “only take the food you can eat and always strive to me a #CleanPlateClub member.” 

Signs made by the participants during the Climate Strike. (Photo courtesy of Kaitlynn Tarbox)

     Lily Scribner, co-student leader of SCC, and other members were approaching students encouraging them to sign their petition to make campus more sustainable and to help fight climate change.  She said, “One of the members of the SCC found music about climate change and sustainability, it was initially supposed to play until noon and then we were going to have people speak but the music drew more people inn and brought them to come learn more about what we were doing.” 

    Helping develop a community which is informed and passionate for similar causes is important to Scribner. “I think our strike can make a difference. They raise awareness for topics that most of the student body would not hear about otherwise, like our initiative to build a greenhouse on campus.”  She said, “The more people that show support in changing things to better the climate and our campus, the more change we can bring into practice.” 

    Scribner encourages students if they want to help the environment to “write letters to their senators or town officials to enact policies, carpooling and taking shorter showers.” She said, “The biggest thing is just educating yourself on what you yourself can do to help you live more sustainably.” 

    Scribner found that even though UMF has recycling bins and options “so many recyclables are thrown into trash cans each day,” she said, “We could greatly decrease the amount of waste sent to the landfill if people took the time to properly sort their garbage.” 

   Climate strikes have been happening all over the country. Farmington’s was just a small strike that is apart of a much bigger movement that the SCC hopes will continue to push forward and make changes on campus and in our community. 

    For students interested in becoming involved with SCC, Saulnier clarified in a message to Flyer Staff, “. . .SCC is a coalition of UMF staff, faculty, student employees and volunteers (and not a club), we do not have an executive board. . .we are very much a cooperative organization in that everyone’s voice matters in our group.” Their office is located in the Student Center hallway, room 108, but they are currently meeting in the Ed Center room 113 on Mondays and Fridays during common time.

Earth Day Festival: Farmington’s Coachella

By Autumn St.Pierre, Contributing Writer

Recently, the Sustainable Campus Coalition (SCC) hosted the Earth Day Festival at UMF to celebrate the environment with the campus and the community.

“It is meant to be an educational and fun event that allows people to enjoy music, food, and speakers while enjoying the outdoors,” said sophomore Kelly Toomey, a student leader of SCC.

Earth Day is one of SCC’s largest events and it has been put on for at least five years. “This year we had UMF students and alumni speaking on behalf of the importance of water conservation and eliminating food waste,” said Toomey.

The speakers included Louise Villemont, Donald Hutchins, and Holden Cookson. There were performances by Matt Hernandez, Clefnotes, Nuclear Salad, and members of the UMF Live Music Club.

A lot of preparation goes into this event. “We need to reserve a location at the beginning of the semester, and from there we have to find a set list of UMF musicians, plan a menu of local food, organize speakers, and gather prizes to raffle off,” said Toomey.

“This year we raffled off Fiddlehead Festival t-shirts, fruit and vegetable seeds, and free movie passes to Narrow Gauge Cinemas.”

Next year SCC would like to have the event earlier in the day to have warmer weather and more daylight.

“We would also like to organize some speakers from the community, people that have worked in the sustainability field that could really give us some good insight,” said Toomey. “Next year we would also like to have a 100% local menu.”

Sodexo generously sponsored the event this year with food mostly local to Maine. “Overall, the Earth Day event has been going strong and we really enjoy the relaxed nature of the event,” said Toomey.

SCC puts on several sustainability events every semester. Toomey and a co-worker pick up all of the food waste from the dining hall and bring it to the Farmington Cooperative Compost site. Compost gets delivered to the UMF pile three times a week.

SCC also maintains projects such as the Thrifty Beaver, a new thrift store and food pantry for students and staff.

Professor Lucas Kellett, co-leader of SCC with professor Drew Barton, have been involved with the club for five years. Kellett oversees the paid students. “We have eight of them right now,” said Kellett.

Kellett helps coordinate events with the community. “It’s mostly a student run organization,” said Kellett. “I’m basically there as an advisor and to facilitate what they want to happen.”

Along with effectively maintaining projects, plans for the next academic year include SCC adapting new ones like a campus garden or greenhouse.

“We want to keep things going, keep that wheel of sustainability going,” said Kellett.

SCC meetings are held every Monday and Friday at 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. in room 113 in the Education Center. The SCC offers paid and volunteer positions.