Bellevue College becomes more sustainable

earthday-1Throughout this  2010-2011 academic year, Bellevue College has made great leaps towards becoming a more environmentally sustainable college campus and community. For example, in every bathroom on campus, users will find “Green Sustainable” foam hand soap; in every classroom and in numerous locations on campus, visitors can easily find recycle bins for both plastic and glass bottles and paper products.

BC’s Associated Student Government’s (ASG) Social Responsibility Representative Sophia Trinh has been active on campus advocating for social responsibility and change. Trinh’s goal entering her ASG position was to, “connect students to nature through education.”

These steps towards becoming greener have been made possible as a are a result of BC’s Student Programs hiring Deric Gruen, a Sustainability Coordinator and Resource Conservation Manager.

His position is funded by both the Student Environment Sustainability Fund and Campus Operations, which is supported by a grant from Puget Sound Energy (PSE). the Student Environment Sustainability Fund (SESF) is funded by the $1 every BC student pays for every 10 credits they enroll in. This fund helps allows the campus to be preserved in the greenest and cleanest way possible.

By working closely with the Assistant Dean of Student Programs Faisal Jaswal, there are many steps Gruen and Trinh have taken to create and provide the greenest campus possible.

In the near future, all BC students will be able to enjoy a student garden on campus. It will be located behind the Greenhouse and will be open to all students who want to come and contribute to the garden. According to Trinh, BC Biology and Botany Professor Michael Hanson will be helping the garden project grow.

The ASG Emerging Technology and Entrepreneurial Representative George Dean has been working heavily towards making more technologically savvy changes on campus. These changes will ultimately thwart paper consumption. Recently, all the computer labs on campus have turned greener by changing their standard print settings to duplex printing.

Soon, PSE will be donating and implementing new software on campus that will help conserve energy. Once installed, this new software will allow computers on campus to be shut down easily and effortlessly. Currently, the computers in classrooms remain powered on even when they are not in use during the evenings and weekends.

Throughout the year, ASG as a whole has been confronting transportation issues and ultimately, pushing for students to utilize the strong metro system and providing resources to allow students to connect with others to carpool to campus though the “Metro Retro Campaign.”

Trinh, a trendy fashionista herself, has been organizing clothes swaps with the help from The Jibsheet’s Features Editor Mia Harrison, and BC student Howin Wong.  According to the Earth Week Clothes Swap’s Facebook event page, during the week of 4/18, students are invited to combine their passion for fashion and their commitment to the environment to, “clean out your [their] closet[s] to reduce, reuse, recycle, and refuse to buy clothes from socially and environmentally unjust companies!”

This year’s swap, which will happen during BC’s Earth Week, will revolve around a social justice theme. Sadly, many clothing companies continue to use child labor and sweat shops.

Clearly, BC students are environmentally conscious, “Like it or not, the fashion industry holds a lot of power and impact when it comes to the well-being of people and the environment which sustains them,” says Harrison.

Students who bring clothes to swap will be able to trade in their clothes for clothes on a rack. According to Harrison, “The swap isn’t just a one-on-one exchange. The clothing will be on racks and on tables so students can take many articles of clothing as they bring.” Students will be able to find clothing from companies that treat their workers fairly, sell their items harmlessly, and use dyes and materials that are environmentally friendly.  The clothes must not be faded and have no holes and stains.

The food served on campus is also sustainable. The majority of the products are locally grown and sold. For example, at the Café in the C building, they sell fair-trade baked goods from PINKS Original Bakery which is located in Capital Hill, Seattle. PINKS is renown for only using local ingredients.

The meat on campus is hormone free and is considered “free-range”; this term means that the animals roam freely instead of being crammed in small, unsanitary cages.

In addition, the coffee served on campus is also environmentally friendly: 100% fair-trade and shade-grown coffee beans. This means that the coffee is purchased directly from farmers. Fair-trade allows farmers and farm workers to work in healthier working conditions while receiving skill training necessary to compete in the global agricultural market. The Styrofoam plates used around campus are not only cheap but also recyclable.

By Fall Quarter 2011, all students will hopefully have the opportunity to compost on campus. The “BITE ME” course at BC, a class on food and sustainability in the United States, taught jointly by English Professor Michael Meyer and Biology and Botany Professor Michael Hanson, is working towards switching “everything to compostable,” according to Trinh.

Gruen is currently looking for interns to help make the campus even greener. The “Energy Conservation” interns will act as an environmental ambassador on campus by going around and reminding students to conserve. The other interns will focus on redesigning signage on campus to make it even easier for students to recycle. Students who are interested in these positions are asked to contact Gruen at

Students who are groovy to be green can check out the SESF Bulletin Board located across the ATM in the C building for on-campus events, gatherings, and other ways to help out.

Look out on campus for Earth Week events and remember to flick the light switch and recycle that bottle. Green is always “in.”