CSU Voices and Views

This Way for a Healthier Planet

By Erik Fallis
CSU Public Affairs

Chico State students are thinking through the consequences of collective human actions. Much of the evidence is that our species is making poor decisions, utilizing record levels of the earth’s productive capacity while choking that productive pipeline for future generations.

A coalition of students, faculty, staff, entrepreneurs and activists are striving for a better path, a healthier path. This Way to Sustainability is an enormous undertaking – a student-run conference that hosts more than 100 speakers and 1,400 participants. This conference brings together those who dare to question the decisions we make today. In so doing, they find many answers about how we might move toward a sustainable future.

Decked out in an elaborate dress of plastic bags, Health Education major Alexandria Gipson (center) quizzes and informs students with trivia about the impact of plastics in the environment.

Gipson (left) and her fellow students Marina Lowart, Annemarie Cohodes, Brian Swenson, Mai Kue Her, Gabriela Rios and Kelly Markham are all part of Professor Mary Portis’ (center) Health and Community Services course. The students each took an environmental impact topic – plastics, wildlife or water – to research and develop compelling facts to educate others. Students are dressed corresponding to their topic.

The student group Sustainable Consultations of Office Practices (SCOOP) shares their work on office energy audits and comprehensive sustainability consultations. The photo shows presenters and SCOOP consultants Nolan Trato, Kerrie Rose Feil-Olsen, Kate Bratten and Amanda Leonis (left to right). Also participating in the presentation is Whitney Wright.

The team represents a broad spectrum of academic studies including Entrepreneurship, Business Marketing, Business Project Management and Environmental Science.

Peter M. J. Hess of the National Center for Science Education shares his expertise with students and community participants on issues of overpopulation and overconsumption. As the NCSE director of religious community outreach, Hess in particular looks at the intersection of sustainability with issues of culture and faith.

The Compost Display Area is hardly the stop you expect on most campus tours. Fortunately, Chico State is not most campuses. The stop is one of many highlighting the unique sustainable features of the campus that serve both operational and educational purposes. Here hot composting and cold composting both create rich organic fertilizer out of gardening and food waste.

Closing out the conference, internationally acclaimed artist and activist Chris Jordan challenged the audience with the enormity of modern waste.  The photo on the screen is an image of a massive pile of discarded cell phones.  Later, Jordan takes the audience on a journey to Midway Island ­– where the beauty of the albatross population is marred by death from the ingestion of plastic found in the Pacific Garbage Patch.  Through this tale of tragedy, Jordan finds his way from grief to love to action.

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  • Vanessa K.

    Good to see CSU is organizing such activities.. Protecting the environment will ensure public health, environmental quality, and economic vitality.

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