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On a Rocket to a More Sustainable Campus

May 31, 2024

Samantha DeTurris
Major: Environmental Studies
Class of 2024

This internship has taught me that not everything always goes according to plan. As a Zero Waste Director I expected my job to be supervising interns while they compost using the Rocket. Unfortunately, at the beginning of the semester the Rocket stopped working due to an issue with the convertor. In the meantime, I really had to think of how I could continue to spread the spirit of composting without the composter working.

In order to get the compost interns together I hosted workdays in the library where we would brainstorm how to make campus composting more inclusive and effective in upcoming years. We worked on a presentation outlining our plans for a campus wide composting program and ways to incentivize it. Most of the work with my interns mainly had to do with plans for the future and so did my own independent work. I worked hard to develop a relationship with Chartwells representatives and employees. I had a lot of qualms with the lack of consideration for sustainability, so I was so excited to try to do something about it. I really wanted people to know that there’s a group of people who care.

I attended town halls and board meetings because I wanted to hear what everyone else was upset about. Students and faculty had sustainability issues concerning transportation, single use plastic, food waste, and the dishwasher. I had heard about what my classmates had to say about sustainability at Purchase so now I knew what to focus my energy on. I have never been involved with student government before and honestly have never felt like I understood how government works. I feel as though it was an incredibly valuable experience because I feel like I now have a deeper understanding of government and bureaucracy. In terms of what has actually been changed in my time as a Zero Waste Director there hasn’t been huge change but steps in the right direction and lots of work ahead of next year’s sustainability interns. Change like this is a slow process, like getting the Rocket fixed, but it is a meaningful and worthy endeavor. All of our efforts will leave the students ahead of us a healthier and more educated campus. To be a more sustainable campus is in best interest of the environment but it’s also in the best interest of the community. Living sustainably will make us healthier, happier, and more fulfilled. Students come and go but nature and persists and deserves to be cared for.

I’m proud to say that I was part of the first group of sustainability interns. Just the creation of this program is a huge step in the right direction for sustainability on our campus.