by Mercy Austin, staff writer
Founded in fall 2021, PPCC’s Sustainability Club is a student-led program dedicated to environmental and sustainability awareness, advocacy, and education. The club is open to all students and hoping to recruit new members as the semester continues.
Coordinator of Sustainability at PPCC, Konrad Schlarbaum began the club to expand the aims of the Office of Sustainability by mobilizing the wider student body. This includes projects and event planning, but also extends to the broader goal of fostering a culture of resource conservation and social equity on campus.
The club has launched several initiatives both on and off campus, including creek clean-ups, composting programs, and advocacy for more sustainable transportation such as buses and carpools. Future plans include the creation of a campus garden and expansion of their reach through social media and marketing.
“We are the generation of the future,” said club president Bailey McAmis. “If students don’t have a say in what’s going on, it’s not going to happen.”
This statement is especially relevant in light of recent statistics of sustainability efforts in the broader Colorado area. A report from the Colorado Public Interest Research Group concluded that Colorado ranks among the worst states in terms of waste per capita, with recycling and composting rates that are less than half of the state average.
This rings true to the experience of many members, who commented on how misinformed the general community of Colorado Springs is about what sustainability practically looks like. “The culture in this region is much different from Denver or Boulder or Fort Collins,” said Schlarbaum.
He cites differences in terms of fiscal conservatism— many people are afraid to invest in environmental efforts because they know their investment won’t have as immediate a return. He said, “there’s not enough people speaking for the trees, but there’s a whole heck of a lot of people speaking for the economy.”
Nonetheless, he has hope for the future, he said. Last year, PPCC students voted to permanently fund the Green Campus Fee, which uses $0.39 per class credit to fund the Office of Sustainability and Sustainability Club. This supports his position as a full-time coordinator and has allowed him to mentor over 45 students on being advocates for change in their community.
The development of the fee has been instrumental in allowing club members tackle increasingly larger projects. Each week, they meet to brainstorm potential initiatives and figure out how to get more people involved in and excited about what they’re doing.
“There are a lot of ideas that we have right now and we’re still working on narrowing them down,” McAmis said.
The Sustainability Club meets on Fridays from 3-4 via Zoom. The club hopes to meet in-person on both campuses in the near future. Students who want to participate are encouraged to email Konrad Schlarbaum at email@example.com.