Green Thinking in a Grey Space
by Briahna McTigue
October 18, 2018 | Sciences
Located in the heart of the concrete jungle that is Downtown Montreal, one might think that Dawson College wouldn’t be concerned with nature and its wellbeing. However, those of us who attend this institution know that this couldn’t be further from the truth. The school takes pride in knowing that its efforts to promote sustainability are well perceived and enforced.
Sustainability and environmentalism on campus aren’t new phenomena. In fact, as stated on the Dawson College Sustainability Plan 2016-2021, “Dawson College first demonstrated its commitment to sustainability in 2006 with a two-year Action Conservation program.”
All the while commendable, Dawson’s environmental philosophies are ones that many believe ought to be shared by all establishments and citizens alike.
“I think it’s very important that an institution as big as Dawson is participating in something like this. I’ve realized that if we don’t stick up for the earth now, it will only get worse as my generation grows up. I believe that more institutions should take part in something like Dawson’s Sustainability Plan, as it can truly make a difference if we all pitch in!” says Laura Krochenski, a North-South Studies student.
This student’s concern is supported by a multitude of studies. With warming oceans, shrinking ice sheets, glacial retreats, rising sea levels, and the decline of Arctic sea ice, we have reasons to be concerned. NASA states that “[Paleoclimate] evidence reveals that the current warming is occurring roughly ten times faster than the average rate of ice-age-recovery warming.”
From a technological standpoint, we’ve come a long way. However, with these advances come setbacks that our generation now has to deal with, as Krochenski expressed.
Faced with this reality, Dawson has decided to assume responsibility for its carbon footprint, having recognized that climate change is an issue worthy of every individual’s attention. Taking itself into account, the college has put forth several sustainability projects, in hopes of demonstrating said responsibility.
To name a few, Dawson has adopted a Carbon Neutral Commitment. Whilst striving to continuously lower its greenhouse gas emissions, the school offsets the difference by planting over 5000 trees in Nicaragua. Another measure put into action can be found on the College’s rooftops, where various gardens and bee colonies thrive. Finally, with Dawson Dinin’, every Tuesday and Thursday students can enjoy free vegan lunches by bringing clean and identified containers to Conrod’s before 12pm. This promotes healthy and sustainable eating, while reusing containers and reducing plastic consumption.
Whilst on the topic of veganism, it’s important to note that this lifestyle greatly contributes to eco-friendly living. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations 2006 publication, “Animal agriculture is responsible for 18% of Greenhouse Gas emissions, more than the combined exhaust from all transportation.” Furthermore, in Livestock and Climate Change: What if the key actors in climate change are... cows, pigs and chickens written by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang, it says that, “Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of Co2 per year.”
Dawson Dinin’ introduces students to this new way of eating, and facilitates the lives of vegans attending the school. As a recent Dawson graduate, Sarah Anton shares that “Being vegan in a school such as Dawson makes me feel supported in my decision, because they always provide plant based options no matter the event they are putting on. I think they set a great example for those who wish to try a plant based diet, or for anyone who is curious about living a more sustainable lifestyle!”
By prompting students to participate and learn from the green initiatives that circulate within the school, Dawson provides us with tools we can utilize in our everyday lives, regardless of the location. Whether we’re camping in a forest or sitting in an office, our environmental responsibilities are ever-present and, thanks to Dawson, this truth is not lost in translation in the bustle of a city crowd, or in that of a busy schedule.