News and Events
Students Explore Pepperdine's Environmental Efforts and National Green Issues
In the current social and political dialogue, environmental issues are important, unavoidable, and often misunderstood. Jessica Hammons, environmental steward for the Office of Intercultural Affairs (ICA), has been educating the Pepperdine community about global environmental issues and how the University is playing its part to protect the planet.
Hammons, a senior political science major from Yucaipa, California, organized two fall convocation events to raise awareness, an evening workshop on Oct. 27 to explore Pepperdine's recycling program, and a discussion about wider environmental justice issues on Monday, Nov. 17.
Surprisingly, not many attendees knew that the University has an integral recycling program, and that the expansive green grass of the Pepperdine lawns is actually grown with reclaimed water. Hammons introduced Crown Disposal, and discussed the broad recycling efforts made by the school, before starting a debate about improvements that could be made.
"A majority stated they had no clue Pepperdine has a recycling program, and they were holding on to old newspapers and magazines for fear of throwing them away!" laughs Hammons. "Pepperdine spends a lot of time and money into making this campus as eco-friendly as possible, and I believe that that good work should be celebrated and discussed. We then spoke about some ways to make it better, and the consensus was that if we could manage to have a glass receptacle on campus, the students would feel a lot more comfortable."
On Monday, Nov. 17, approximately 200 students gathered at Malibu's Pendleton Learning Center for an "Environmental Justice" presentation from Hammons, in which she spoke about why the topic is important, and what can be done to help.
As the 2008-09 ICA environmental steward, Hammons was looking for a different approach to the subject at Pepperdine. "I feel as though when people hear the word ['environment'] they think of polar bears and whales, or recycling and hybrids, but I wanted to put a human face on the problem," she says. "This semester I wanted to focus on local and national issues with the environmental, so I tackled environmental justice looking at it as an issue involving our fellow Americans."
The evening explored how the actions of an individual can impact the planet positively or negatively - from cycling or walking more often, to buying re-usable bottles instead of bottled mineral water - as well as the social responsibility of industries and nations to use natural and manmade resources respectfully.
"To me, personally, it means that all people have a say in what they breathe, what they drink, and the ground they live upon," explains Hammons. "I believe that corporations need to be held responsible for their actions, and accountable for ensuring that their products and byproducts are safe for all that they come into contact with."
Controversial issues were raised, such as how the racial and cultural demographics of an area affect decisions made councils about localized environmental efforts such as sustainability, recycling, and waste. Hammons points to a study showing that more than nine out of ten zoning board members are college educated white males, which might affect which communities have the best environmental systems in place.
"I believe it's my duty as a Christian to not only raise awareness about this topic, but to actually do something about it," says Hammons of her passion for the subject. "I spoke about God's commandment to love our neighbors and the reality of what we are doing here."