In an effort to further reduce the school’s carbon emissions, St. Mary’s College’s SEAC, or Student Envirnomental Action Coalition, has begun a new campaign titled “Sustainability Wednesdays” in pursuit of their goal of carbon neutrality by 2020.
The program, which takes root in the national campaign of “Meatless Mondays”, will make meat and meat-based food options unavailable in the Great Room on Wednesdays, as the processing of meat for consumption leaves a greater carbon footprint on the environment.
“We decided on ‘Sustainability Wednesdays’ because we believe the name better portrays what we are trying to accomplish on campus,” said SEAC member Emily Altman. “If the program is implemented, the great room will serve an all-vegetarian menu on Wednesdays.”
The implementation of such a program occurred two years ago, and drew mixed reactions from students. This year, SEAC’s emphasis lies on education.
“In terms of our campaign,” said Altman, “we have put up posters and flyers on campus that provide education and information about Sustainability Wednesdays. We have been tabling outside the Great Room about the positive effects of going vegetarian one day a week, as it relates to the impact of factory farming, carbon emissions, and the climate action plan.”
In addition to the tabling and flyers, SEAC hosted a screening of “Planeat”, a documentary on the physical and environmental effects of our diets, on March 24th in the Library, with further educational events to follow. Despite more organized support for the program, the challenge remains in convincing the student body of the plan’s effectiveness, in addition to the merits of eliminating all forms of meat from the main eatery on campus for a day.
“I would like to see the school try to pursue other routes of carbon reduction,” said junior biology student Melanie MacDonald, “but if they do instate a sustainability diet, I think that they should mainly address beef and dairy products.”
The other concerns lie in providing sufficient varieties of protein-rich substitutes for meat and meat-based products for students, especially in the case of athletes, who require higher calorie and protein counts during the season.
Said Altman, “We have been petitioning students as well as faculty this semester in order to promote an open dialogue where we can provide information about our campaign as well as listen and address any concerns that students may have. Ultimately…Sustainability Wednesdays will be decided by a referendum through the SGA where all students will have the opportunity to vote.”
SEAC will be hosting a faculty forum Friday, April 3rd, at which five faculty members from various areas of study will offer their opinions on Sustainability Wednesdays, followed by a student Q&A section. More details will be offered as the date approaches.