Reflecting its dedication to improving the environment, St.
John’s University observes Campus
Sustainability Awareness Day on October 24 by hosting the New
York-area information session of the Environmental Protection
Agency’s (EPA’s) Food Recovery
Challenge, followed by a conservation-themed Movie Night for
The EPA information session is expected to draw up to 100 people
from approximately 30 agencies, businesses and organizations to the
Queens, NY, campus.
The event will begin at 10 a.m. in St. Albert Hall and include
discussions, a box lunch and a tour of St. John’s 02
Composting System, which recycles food and yard waste to make
compost for the University’s organic landscape practices.
Partnering with the University’s
Earth Club, the Office of
Sustainability will hold Movie Night on the Great Lawn. From
7–10 p.m., the campus community will be able to watch Dr. Seuss’
The Lorax. Student sustainability coordinators will distribute
blankets and hot chocolate.
The Campus Sustainability Awareness Day events are part of St.
John’s award-winning efforts to protect the environment on and off
campus, said Thomas Goldsmith, Director of Environmental
Conservation. “Our participation in the Food Recovery Challenge
testifies to the University’s commitment to social justice as well
as environmental stewardship.”
The program’s aims, he explained, are three-fold: 1) to teach
people about purchasing only the food they need; 2) to recover
unused food for those in need; and 3) to compost the food that
cannot be distributed.
Students are actively engaged in these efforts. For
worker sustainability coordinators operate the 02 Composting
System. St. John’s composts feedstock consisting of 40 tons of food
waste a year. Mixed with coffee grinds and wood chips, the compost
nourishes campus lawns and the
Student Community Garden.
Vegetables from the garden go to St. John’s Bread and
Life, a Brooklyn-based agency that provides food and other
services to needy New Yorkers. According to Christy Robb, the
organization’s Director of Food Services, the vegetables helped to
feed 131 families in August and 101 households in September.
The University’s efforts have earned wide recognition. In 2007,
St. John’s joined Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s “PlaNYC
2030 Challenge” to reduce greenhouse gases by 30 percent. St.
John’s received a
gold star for its progress. The University also partners in the
In 2008, the University became the first private academic
institution to sign a Memorandum of
Understanding with the EPA — a commitment to “continuous
improvement of environmental stewardship” over the next five
This past summer, St. John’s students continued the effort by
helping to recover food from New York City children’s camps held on
the Queens campus, which was picked up by City Harvest twice a week
for five weeks.
“The remarkable thing is that it didn’t require all that much
effort,” said Peter Barker ’13C, a Student Worker Sustainability
Coordinator. “Yet taking that step — spending those few hours a day
— meant so much in the grand scheme of things.”