By Nicole Eigbrett ’14
Garlands made from plastic water bottles stretched across the Sullivan Student Center atrium for one week in March. The 342 bottles represented the number of St. Lawrence-insignia bottles sold every day in the Northstar Café (aka “The Pub”). According to manager Killy Bobela, that works out to 660 one-liter bottles and 1,728 half-liter bottles a week.
Environmental Action Organization Co- President, Jeff Mogavero ’16 said the purpose of the garland was to “start making people think a little more” about their consumption of non-resuable resources. Jeff, a Conservation Biology major and resident of the Green House who strives to raise environmental consciousness on campus, says, “Drinking from a reusable water bottle is an easy thing students aren’t always doing. People still buy St. Lawrence water bottles out of ignorance or convenience, or because they think the water tastes different, or they don’t care. They’re not looking at their lives and seeing how they help, or hurt, the world.”
The garlands were part of EAO’s SLU Reuse campaign, aimed at eliminating non-reusable bottles on campus. “A $1,000 grant from the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute directed EAO’s focus to water issues,” Jeff explains. “The money subsidized red plastic SLU Reuse bottles so they could be sold for eight dollars.” Within a few days, the bottles were sold out and another order was placed.
The SLU Reuse campaign utilizes posters that quip “St. Lawrence has a drinking problem,” a pledge to reduce consumption, a film series on water issues, and bathroom fact sheets on water usage. EAO has significantly increased its visibility on campus through the bottle installation and by visiting student residences, employing social media and focusing on high-involvement projects. Their initiatives also include education on post-consumer composting around campus and giving out plants potted in reused water cups at the North Country Folk Festival on campus in April, a Green House-sponsored event.
Jeff, of Havertown, Pa., hopes that EAO’s work will increase the practice of low-impact lifestyles, which he seeks to embody. “If students can remember to reuse their water bottles, unplug power strips and turn off the lights—that’s a good takeaway,” he concludes. “I’m involved in environmentally-focused issues because it’s my duty to be a good steward. We have only one Earth, and we should think more about how our actions affect it.”
Nicole Eigbrett wrote this article as part of her internship in University Communications. Another intern, Stephanie Eldon ’14, assisted with the editing.