Earth Day is not the only day to give back to community

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Living sustainably doesn’t have to be a burden. It’s as simple as unplugging devices that aren’t in use, cutting your showers a few minutes short or switching to LED light bulbs.

There are multiple clubs at South Dakota State University, like the Ecology Club and the Student Sustainability Council, dedicated to sustainability and conservation in the Brookings community.

These clubs hold several events throughout the year for students, faculty and community members to take initiative in helping the planet. One of those is Recyclemania, a campus wide initiative to increase recycling.

According to their constitution, the SSC envisions and supports a prosperous, equitable, sustainable and ecologically healthy campus community.

The SCC will collect, evaluate and spread information and tools to increase the understanding of sustainability and its relevance to the campus and surrounding community.

SSC has sponsored numerous volunteer opportunities this year, one of the most prominent being the The Big Event.

The Big Event is an opportunity for volunteers to give back to the Brookings community by helping local businesses, schools and community members.

The council also hosts waste audits once a semester, where the SSC gets together to search through campus trash and recycling to determine waste habits on campus.

Students can get involved with the council by attending the meetings, which are held at 6:15 p.m. on Mondays in Wagner Hall, Room 127.

Taking a direct route to helping the environment and volunteering is not the only way someone can give back, there are multiple small things people can do to help save the planet.

“Ditch single use plastic and switch to reusable utensils, ride a bike or walk as often as possible and shop locally,” said Cayden Eliason, freshman biology education major and Ecology Club president.

The Ecology Club has numerous posters hanging up around campus about how students can easily help the environment. The posters focus on how small things, like water conservation and recycling, can make a positive impact on the environment.

Living on campus shouldn’t prevent students from living sustainably. According to junior mathematics major and SSC president, Kory Heier, all dorm rooms will be equipped with both a trash can and a recycling bin next year.

When transitioning to dorm living, students often let sustainability fall on the back burner.

“Many students tend to overdo it when it comes to utilities since they aren’t receiving a bill at the end of the month,” Heier said. “So, being more aware of your water and electricity usage is important.”

There are many resources on campus for students to seek out and learn to lead a more sustainable life.

Jennifer McLaughlin, SDSU sustainability specialist, works on campus recycling projects and educates students and community members on ways to practice their own form of sustainable living practices. McLaughlin also serves as the SCC’s advisor.

“Simple things add up to make a difference,” she said. “You don’t have to give up anything, just make a few small changes.”

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