It seems that these days sustainability is as fashionable as 80s sunglasses coming back into style. That is to say, annoyingly chic. Now that claiming sustainable intentions is a marketable quality, nearly everyone is touting environmental consciousness to get ahead, or just plain look better to everybody else. But it is hard to say if they’re putting their money where their mouth is, literally.
In a speech given in the spring of 2008, President Janet Holmgren declared to an audience of students, faculty, alumna and community members that Mills had placed first in the annual nation-wide recycling contest, Recyclemania. She painted a picture of Mills as a beacon of the green movement, on the forefront of all things eco-fabulous. This was not true. Mills hadn’t even come close to winning the recycling competition although it did place first in composting per-capita.
One reason for our actual loss in the competition was the lack of consistent support from some members of the administration regarding recycling and composting systems on campus. As an active member of Mills’ environmental and sustainability club, Earth C.O.R.P.S, I know full well that green initiatives are not always met with appreciation, much less, support. However, when these initiatives are effective, Mills never hesitates to advertise the success of those actually fighting to lower its ever-sexier shrinking carbon footprint.
This is not to say that all Mills faculty and administration are eco-hypocrites. Many have been extraordinarily supportive, especially the recently retired Karen Maggio, who has worked hard to make Mills more sustainable over 28 years of work. I would like to see equal support across the board from those using the success of others to benefit their image and the image of the College on the whole. Until all in the Mills administration can pay their dues in Green Town, it should give serious kudos to those in the community who fly the green flag, even when it doesn’t look cool.