Parkland aims to be a sustainable institution

Scott Barnes

Staff Writer

For many Parkland College students, sustainability is something they learn about inside a classroom. Recently though, there has been an effort to raise awareness about sustainable practices, not just in a classroom setting, but throughout campus as well.

According to Parkland’s website, there is a desire to create a sustainable campus as well as teach both students and faculty how to live more sustainable lives. The college has taken many steps toward that goal, including the hiring of Sustainability Coordinator Thor Peterson.

“So my position was actually funded through an ideas grant with the understanding, as far as I understand, that the position is really open to being sort of co-created by me,” Peterson said.

Peterson talked about what he has focused on since he took on the newly created position.

“What I’ve been doing for the last two months, I got hired on July 1, has been to really just see what has happened so far here and how I can leverage the activities that are already in place,” Peterson said.

He explained the concept of sustainability is about more than just being environmentally conscious. There are many different issues that fall under the sustainability umbrella, including economic as well as social sustainability. Ensuring that Parkland is taking all of these things into consideration is part of his job.

“My conception of sustainability coordinator is more that big ball of wax,” Peterson said. “Part of why I was hired on here is to help Parkland move forward on all of those fronts simultaneously, as opposed to just in the environmental realm.”

Sustainability is something that Parkland has been focusing on for years now, and the student body seems to support an overall effort to be a more sustainable institution. Engineering science major Allan Castellon is one student who thinks sustainability is an important issue students should care about.

“I think it’s important, not only in like a school setting, but I think if everybody looks at it beyond the school setting,” Castellon said. “At home. At work, anywhere. While driving the car. It needs to be talked about more.”

Prisca Lumbu is another engineering science major who shares the same sentiment.

“Information is power,” Lumbu said. “If we can have as many people out there realizing it’s a real issue then, yeah, it’s a good thing. Things are actually going to move forward to where we can actually contribute to have a better society. It sounds cliché but, yeah, that’s what I actually think.”

Lumbu also shared some ideas about things people can do to lessen their impact on the environment, such as recycling and shopping at thrift stores instead of buying new products.

Hospitality major Del Jacobs is another student who has a lot of ideas about how make Parkland’s campus a more sustainable place. In fact she has already been putting some of those ideas to work, including growing food here on campus for the Wesley Food Pantry.

“We already did our first recovery out of the garden over at the land lab,” Jacobs said. “We were able to get 25 pounds of fresh vegetables over to the pantry last Wednesday.”

Growing food here on campus is something that Jacobs hopes to see more of, and she plans to increase the amount of food grown next season. She would like to be able to grow enough food for the pantry to be able to feed at least 30 families.

October is Sustainability Awareness Month on Parkland’s campus. Students who are interested in getting more involved in raising awareness about sustainability can visit Thor Peterson in the Student Life for more information.