As students walked around the Peace Quad on Tuesday afternoon, they were met with activities and competitions on topics ranging from environmentalism to recycling practices as part of the 11th-annual Sustainability Festival.
The festival was hosted by multiple organizations, including Binghamton University Physical Facilities Recycling and Resource Management, the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE), the Fred L. Waterman Conservation Education Center, Intellectual Decisions on Environmental Awareness Solutions (IDEAS), Binghamton University Food Sustainability Group (BUFSG) and Transportation and Parking Services.
Matt Tilly, a volunteer for Recycling and Resource Management and a sophomore majoring in environmental studies, helped set up at for the festival and said the event was intended to be an educational experience for attendees. According to Tilly, there was something to learn at the event for everyone.
“Our biggest goal is to teach people new things about recycling,” Tilly said. “I didn’t know you could recycle batteries until recently. There are specific containers around campus where you can safely dispose of them, like in any resident director’s office.”
Attendees also took part in activities centered around sustainability, such as the raffle offered by the Waterman Conservation Education Center. Participants had to successfully identify three invasive plants on display at the table for the chance to win a kayak. Recycling and Resource Management also held a recycling race in which students completed a time trial where they had to sort trash from a bin into the correct recycling containers. Placing an item in the wrong receptacle would result in two seconds added to their final time.
Chris Harasta, retail manager for the Marketplace, said he personally attended the festival to talk about sustainability initiatives in campus dining, including one encouraging students to drink out of reusable cups. According to Harasta, every cashier on campus has stickers for reusable cups, which allows students to receive a 10-percent discount on drinks.
The event also marked the introduction of a new dining option on campus. In fall 2019, Farmer’s Field will replace Gardentoss at the Marketplace. Salads will still be offered, but the new menu will feature locally grown and sourced ingredients which will rotate based on the season.
Brooke Pettis, a liaison for the Marketplace and a senior majoring in biology, said that Farmer’s Field will provide an alternative dining choice for students.
“We’re promoting plant-based nutrition,” Pettis said. “And telling people that there are options other than meat to sustain themselves.”
Dylan Horvath, steward of natural areas at BU, said he tabled to educate students on ways they can become more involved in the area.
“Students can learn to be guides for tour groups and do trail work,” Horvath said. “We also do weekend events like hikes and seasonal events like our February porcupine walk, where we go around and spot porcupines in the trees.”
Initially drawn by the promise of free food, Ryan Dwyer, a junior majoring in political science, said he ended up learning a lot by attending the event.
“There’s so many sustainability practices that we can use to be more environmentally conscious,” Dwyer said. “Next semester I’m definitely going to start composting.”