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Letter: Awareness of impact key to sustainability

To the Editor:

In response to Katherine Hermann's column ("First things first — learn how to recycle a bottle," Apr. 10): Anyone who says that Brown students are not excited about the small problems with sustainability does not know the right Brown students.

Not only do a large population of Brown students understand and practice correct recycling procedures, the student group Beyond the Bottle is currently trying to eliminate plastic water bottle use at Brown altogether. By informing students and encouraging them to refill and reuse water bottles, this group is addressing sustainability by starting at the very root of the problem of wasted plastic.

Another Brown group, Real Food Now, is working to bring more sustainable, locally grown food options to Brown. Eating squash from the Ratty that is grown on a farm only a few miles away significantly reduces the gas required for transportation, making the food we eat on campus more sustainable.

While Hermann suggests that interest in campus sustainability is only in "big, flashy, green ideas," nothing is more important than making students aware of their daily environmental impact. A campus energy monitoring system can make a difference not because it will flash in bright colors that Brown is sustainable, but rather because it will clearly quantify for students the impact of simple steps such as turning off the lights in their dorm rooms. The current problem with sustainability is that student are uninformed. Most are not recycling capped bottles and leaving the light on in their rooms to spite the environmentally conscious, but simply because they don't yet understand the impacts.

Efforts toward sustainability are not "failed"; rather, they are not yet finished. At Brown, everyone should look a little harder before doubting the excitement about sustainability on campus.

Ana Heureux '11
April 12



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