In 2006, SFCC developed a five-year plan including the use of sustainable technologies and practices, then signed the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment in 2009 and a zero waste resolution two years later. For the last two years, Matt Sherman, an active force in Santa Fe Community College’s Environmental Club, has been pushing to change the college’s policy on selling disposable plastic bottles. “The school has a lot of great academic programs on sustainability, but as far as the administration walking the talk of what we’re learning, that’s still not happening although they are taking steps,” Sherman says. It started as a proposal for a school-wide plastic water bottle ban, drafted by former student Sage Bird, but morphed over several drafts into what is now the Plastic Bottle Reduction Initiative. In 2012, Sherman took charge of the proposal, which has been through several iterations with the approval of the Student Government Association and key college departments. But that’s not enough to get students to agree to these changes without official backing.
Over the past year at SFCC, there has been a renewed interest in helping to reduce the college’s carbon footprint by eliminating the use of plastic water bottles on campus. “Resolutions don’t have any bite. They need to get into policy,” Sherman says.
Solution and Results
At a recent staff meeting, Xubi Wilson, SFCC’s renewable energy programs coordinator, reports that some administrators were still “holding out, asking if this initiative was for the best, but the final argument that won out was that it was time to support the students who have been so passionate and worked so hard to get this done. That did it. And that made me feel really good about where we’re headed.”
SFCC has implemented 10 bottle filling stations throughout its campus that provides students access to clean, filtered water. To supplement the stations, SFCC sells customized reusable water bottles to fill up.