In the spring issue of FORDHAM magazine, we asked readers: What are you doing in the spirit of sustainability? Here are some of the responses and practical suggestions we received from alumni who are going green in their daily and professional lives.
We switched all of our light bulbs to compact bulbs, and we installed new windows on our house. We also are looking to get cars that are either hybrid or have higher gas mileage.
—Ramie Janis, GSE ’87
I think the idea of reusing everything we can is an important goal. The twist is to find good uses for what we may want to throw out. For example, I have just made a picnic tablecloth from the kitchen drapes. I recall giving a bridal shower gift wrapped in a festive laundry bag. This way, the recipient received two gifts, the original present and a laundry bag as a bonus.
—Margaret Bohan Eiden, FCRH ’86
1. Start at home. Recycle everything allowed by your trash disposal company. Make sure of 100 percent participation by all family members.
2. If your trash company does not provide separate bins for trash, green (garden) and non-green recyclables (paper, plastic, glass, aluminum, etc.) waste, write to them and request that they do so as soon as possible. In this day and age, every local trash hauler should be maximizing their recycling efforts.
3. Cancel as much junk mail as possible. This takes some effort, but consider the long-term benefit versus the one-time effort on your part. This can often be done by e-mail or on the Internet; sometimes it takes a phone call.
4. Participate in local beach, park and open-space clean-up efforts. This is a great way to not only help out, but to raise your own level of awareness and commitment.
5. Donate to organizations that protect your environment. If you participate in any outdoor activity (swimming, boating, surfing, climbing, walking, running, cycling, etc.), there is an organization specific to your field of interest that needs your support to further their efforts to protect your environment for your enjoyment.
6. Consider the position of politicians on environmental matters before casting your vote. Local, state and national leaders can help make a BIG difference in our environmental future.
7. Make certain to bring your environmental concerns to your place of employment. Get the so-called “low-hanging fruit” first, which includes recycling paper, ink cartridges, batteries; not using Styrofoam; adjusting the temperature to be more energy efficient. If you are in a position of executive authority, look at the long-term effect of your business on the environment. Consider solar power, non-toxic inks and dyes; using recyclable materials in all the corporate printed matter; paying for carbon credits to offset the effects of your carbon footprint; hiring an environmental director and making this position part of your corporate strategic initiatives.
—Bob Mignogna, CBA ’70
I've spent the last year growing my own organic vegetables and raising my own animals for meat and dairy products in the Practical Farm Training Program at the Farm School (http://www.farmschool.org). Every day I enjoy the satisfaction of following my food directly from field to table without any reliance on cross-country trucking routes or massive processing plants. It's nice knowing that my carbon footprint looks only like tiptoes!
Urbanites can—and should—also make responsible decisions about the food they eat. New York City is blessed with lots of farmer's markets and Community Sponsored Agriculture (CSA) programs. Choosing sustainably grown vegetables and pasture-raised meat is better for the health of the individual and the world. Buying from small farms supports hard-working families and local economies.
—Patrick Farmer, FCRH ’05
I want to make you aware of a company I recently started. C5 is an innovative jewelry company that fuses the tradition of beautiful gems with the innovation of sustainability. Historically, the value of gems has been based on the four C’s: cut, carat, clarity and color. As the name suggests, C5 adds consciousness as the fifth factor to consider in determining the value of jewelry.
No one buys a ring because it is sustainable. They buy it because it is beautiful, but the sustainability aspect of our jewelry is a huge bonus for conscientious consumers. … The company is founded on the belief that consumers shouldn’t have to sacrifice beauty for sustainability. We strive to incorporate sustainable principles in all that we do, from manufacturing in the United States to using only recycled packaging materials.
Our goal is to carry beautiful jewelry that has almost no negative impact. A single gold ring made with virgin gold results in 20 tons of mine waste. Metal mining is the most toxic polluter in the United States and is responsible for 96 percent of arsenic emissions and 76 percent of lead emissions in the country. Mined diamonds and gems have been marked by severe human rights abuses and poor labor conditions for decades. Even diamonds that are certified “conflict-free” do not come close to meeting our standards of sustainability.
C5 is very much the manifestation of my time at Fordham. It perfectly marries my business education with my experiences participating in the Global Outreach program. My first trip to Guatemala in 1992 was a life-changing experience that shifted my career direction from advertising to corporate responsibility and sustainable business.
—Meghan Connolly Haupt, CBA ’94
1. Use cloth bags at the grocery store.
2. Install compact fluorescent bulbs in all of the sockets that will work with them.
4. Aggressive recycling of paper, bottles, cans
5. Purchase paper products with post-consumer recycled paper content (post-consumer is the key green feature here).
6. Use ceiling fans to offset the use of air-conditioning.
7. Turn off lights when not in use.
8. Plan vehicle use to minimize the number of trips.
9. When using the charcoal grill, use a charcoal chimney to light the fire instead of lighter fluid, which although not technically a green activity, does keep the damage to a minimum.
10. Purchase used clothing when practical; also called “thrifting.”
—John Paine, CBA ’08
I recently became vegan. Meat production devastates our forests and natural resources.
—Angela Morgand, FCRH ’00
Last year, I conceptualized and developed an eco-luxury brand called Maizuru stationary. Maizuru products are made with FSC-certified 100 percent recycled post-consumer products … and wind power. Our suppliers and partners are eco-friendly/eco-conscious companies located right here in New York City, which is just one way we minimize our carbon footprint.
—Paulette O'Gilvie, GBA ’96
I am installing a 6.1 kilowatt photovoltaic system [whichconverts sunlight into electricity] this summer and a 3.2 kilowatt wind turbine next summer. Within the next two years, I plan to purchase an electric car, which I will charge using my green power sources. While the financial investment is somewhat hefty up front, I calculate that [it will] pay off in less than seven years. At that point, I plan on being energy independent and to have a smaller footprint on the environment.
—Bruce Miller, CBA ’89