Produced by the Department of Media Relations & Publications

Moving from Words to Action in Sustainability

October 23, 2009

How much trash do you think 12,000 college students — plus faculty and staff — produce in one day? Turns out it's about a ton.

3 Minutes 6 Seconds

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This is Christina Dumitrescu, a junior at Lehman College. How much trash do you think 12,000 college students — plus faculty and staff — produce in one day? Turns out it's about a ton. That was enough to create Lehman's own "Mount Trashmore" — a pile of collected and bagged garbage that stood five feet high.

Assembled in front of the Music Building on October 21st, "Mount Trashmore" was an effort by students and the College's Sustainability Council to raise awareness about the importance of reducing waste. The event was held in honor of Campus Sustainability Day. In this interview, student leader Dennis Kim talks about the purpose behind the project.



I'm a junior. I'm a political science major. What we constructed is Mount Trashmore, placed out in front of a prominent like the music building so that the campus community could see how much waste is generated in one day, approximately 80 bags. Imagine how big this would be if it was a week. And it was inspired by sustainability events at other colleges.

We're taking an academic discussion about-- you know, sustainability and we're turning it into action. The point of this is not to change behavior overnight. Show the campus there's a lot of recyclables in the trash that could be recycled and it should be, it ought to be. Lehman is making a really good faith effort. As you can see, these trash cans, they're stainless steel, they're-- they're not cheap, they're pretty expensive. But it's a worthwhile investment because they-- they last for years, and they pay for themselves in time.

And for the-- the amount of resources and the materials that are saved in recycling in preserving those-- instead of burying it for one time use and putting it in a landfill, we get to keep these resources working for us. And it's a very worthwhile investment.


For the sustainability movement in general, there's the cafeteria that came onto campus, and they're contractually obligation to start using sustainable materials mid-way into their contract. There's a lot of policy directives that the council is coming up with that are making a difference, but you know, it doesn't happen overnight. We have to measure these things over a couple years.

But I believe in the next ten years, there's gonna be significant change, waste reduction, more recycling, less water and air pollutants that are emitted by the operation of the college, and preservation of natural resources. There's always room for improvement. And that's what we're seeking to do on campus, making sure everybody's on board, practicing-- including, you know, the administration, the faculty. We want everyone to do the right thing for the environment. We have to preserve the earth.



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