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New Staff Spotlight: Meet Grace Afflerbach

Please welcome Grace Afflerbach as the new Sustainability Coordinator.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background in sustainability.

I grew up on Long Island and graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a bachelor’s in biology and minor in environmental studies. I was also a student sustainability ambassador where I worked closely with New Paltz’s Sustainability Coordinator and other like minded students.

What drew you to Purchase College?

Purchase’s location is unique in that it’s close to the city, but because of the surrounding forest, you really can’t tell. I think this makes Purchase more appealing. Purchase has done great work sustainability-wise and I wanted to help advance that work. I missed being part of a college community, especially a SUNY community. My college experience and the people I met were instrumental in positively shaping who I am. I would like to provide that to students here.

What’s a fun fact about you?

I love reality TV, especially the Real Housewives franchise.

What new and ongoing sustainability projects are your focus right now?

One of my main focuses is the AASHE STARS report. The STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System) is an extensive, all-encompassing voluntary report that allows colleges and universities to measure their sustainability performance. It includes metrics from basically every department on campus.

Another project in the works is a hydration station survey. The goal is to determine if the campus community thinks there are enough hydration stations installed around campus, and where they would like to see more. The survey results will hopefully provide insight for the broader goal of reducing plastic use on campus.

A third project that is still in its early stages is creating a Purchase College Sustainability Coalition. We want to advance the college’s goals of participation and partnership in the local community with businesses and organizations that share our sustainability values and interests.

What’s one (or more) action step PSC members can take to help our campus sustainability efforts?

I believe sustainability should be at the heart of what we do as humans. We don’t have the choice to not care about it. One of my main goals in this position is to expand people’s conceptions of sustainability and to have people realize how sustainability interconnects with virtually every aspect of everyday life. We need everyone’s help to achieve this.

Smaller action steps: Turn off your computer, monitor, and lights at the end of the work day. Use a reusable water bottle. Walk to a place you’d normally drive.

Larger action steps: Sit in on SAOC (Sustainability Advisory and Outreach Committee) meetings. No matter what office you work for, incorporate sustainability into your programming and events.