MCC biology dept. leads way in sustainability

Madeline Shriver
Mesa Legend

With concerns of the environment and climate change mounting, sustainability has in recent years become a huge topic for MCC. The biology department has been a major part in making sure that the school is doing all that it can to not only help the environment, but to help teach students how to do so as well. Environmental biology professor Arta Damnjanovic said that students must first understand the science behind environmental issues to make an impact. “In order to make a change for the better in the environment, students need to understand what’s happening to the environment, and that’s what we teach them,” Damnjanovic said.She further stated that environmental biology teaches students the science behind climate changes, and whether it’s a trend over time, human-induced changes, or a combination of both.

Diverse plant life.
Xeriscaping — using desert-themed gardening — can help reduce water use, especially important in a naturally dry environment like Arizona.

“People themselves find the best road to sustainability; they just need to know the science first,” Damnjanovic said.  She also said that people need to understand why people are concerned, and how serious the issue is. She went on to emphasize the need to recycle both manufactured products as well as natural resources like water, bringing up the topic of xeriscaping — the use of low water use landscaping to reduce consumption. “Xeriscaping is also what people need to do to protect the environment,” Damnjanovic said. “Since we live in a desert, people need to get plants that don’t use much water, and they need to not plant grass so that way we can better conserve water.” “We need make the best use of the limited resources available,” Damnjanovic added.

Damnjanovic brought up that the life science department promoted using Leed buildings, which are energy efficient, as the newer buildings on campus.  Former resident advisor of the environmental action club Paul Hickey also had a lot to say about helping the environment. “Think globally, act locally,” Hickey said. Like Damnjanovic, Hickey stated that people need to conserve water. “We don’t have a lot of water available to us as we live in a desert, and we need to conserve the water we do have,” Hickey said.  He also stated that people should only grow plants that are a native species to Arizona when they are designing their yard. “We need to use more native plant species in our yard designs, not only to preserve water, but to preserve the plants themselves,” Hickey said. Hickey went on to discuss the issue of invasive species, some of which are outcompeting the native species.

He emphasized as well that people need to inform themselves on how the water is used when it comes to animals and plants as it can really help people save water better.  “Cows can drink 30 gallons of water in one day alone, so with that in mind, people need to know how important it is to conserve water, and they need to decrease their consumption of water,” Hickey said. Although the environmental action club is no longer active, Hickey commented on all the projects that the group did. “The environmental action club used to do Earth Day events where we would inform people on how to conserve water, and why it was better to use native plants,” Hickey said. “We also used to have information events where we would just inform the public on how they could help the environment in their everyday activities.”

Hickey also mentioned that the club and the biology department would team up for projects as well.  “We would help maintain plants the biology department used, and we would also help teach classes about how to preserve natural plants,” he said. Hickey also talked about how the club would use hands-on events to reach out to others on campus. “There was this one guy who owns a carpet cleaning business who switched to using only green products, and became a huge activist after one of our hands-on sessions,” Hickey said, adding that the club would go to the Great Hawk Ranch, and do clean ups to “restore Arizona to its natural glory.”On Dr. Seuss Day, the club would teach kids about animals and plants and inform them about the environment.

MCC student Leah Daley listed some of the things she does to try to help the environment. “I recycle all the items I can,” she said. Daley stated that she couldn’t do all the things she wanted to do, such as compost, as she didn’t have the resources to. Daley had quite a few things to say when it came to what she thinks MCC could do to help the environment.“MCC should enforce recycling more. I see people all the time throw away recyclable items when there’s a recycling bin available to them,” she said. “Also the soda labels, and the soda plastic rings need to be cut off and disposed of properly when they come into the lunchroom so that way they don’t get caught around animals when they’re thrown away,” Daley added.

Lillie Hamilton, another MCC student, also stated that she recycles in order to help the environment. Hamilton also said that whenever she leaves a room she turns off the light to conserve energy, and she composts whatever she can. “I also drive an eco-friendly car, and when I can, I walk instead of driving to places,” Hamilton commented. “I feel like MCC should have more recycling bins around campus, and that they should really promote recycling more,” Hamilton stated.Both Daley and Hamilton agree that MCC is doing pretty well on helping the environment, but that there can always be more done to preserve the environment.

MCC student, Jenna Espino, agrees with Daley and Hamilton about there is always more that can be done to help the environment. “I feel like no matter how much someone does to help the environment, there is always something more that person can be doing,” Espino said. “MCC is doing well, but they can always do more,” Espino added. Espino also said she would love to compost, but didn’t have any place to put the compost right now. “I want to do more to help the environment, but right now I don’t have the time or the resources to do all that I want to,” Espino stated.

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These are archived stories from Mesa Legend editions before Fall 2018. See article for corresponding author.

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