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The impact that each of us have through our actions can be carried out via conservation, recycling and green empowerment. Our impact is also shown in the countless number of initiatives that define the environmental movement. Regardless of where our personal green outlook takes us, it all starts with education. It is the knowledge and awareness that our individual carbon footprints hold a greater purpose than the time it takes to separate papers from plastic, or to unplug the computer and electric appliances when not in use.
Shereitte C. Stokes IV, PhD, is a professor at Spelman College in environmental science, intro to environmental science health and toxicology in research. He is a post-doctoral Fellow through the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which allows a 50 percent share in teaching and 50 percent research. The research involves land use, exposure to air pollution and the modeling of the concentration of adversary pollutants and environmental health disparities. Throughout his time at Spelman College, Stokes has definitely noticed an increase in eco-conscious actions in students’ daily lives, as well as an interest in environmental-focused courses. “The environmental science and studies department is growing on almost a semester-wide basis. We also offer minors for students who prefer not to take a lot of science classes, but are interested in the green movement,” says Stokes.
There are millions of jobs being created for students with a green-focused major. “Green jobs and green economies are pretty much the most booming industries,” Stokes explains. Green economy and sustainability initiatives have definitely had a positive impact on the choice of college majors and career paths.
The future of a green economy will continue to transform conventional jobs in a number of different fields; from renewable energy and sustainable agriculture to weatherizing homes and green manufacturing. There are many options for students with a non-green focus to get involved and stay informed. Stokes advises students and recent graduates to educate themselves or go back to pursue a graduate degree. He also encourages students and post-graduates whose time and career focus does not align with the green movement to “see who the movers and the shakers are in terms of sustainability and green initiative. There are a lot of grass root organizations, NGO’s and corporations that are taking green initiative’s, find out who those people are and how you can help.”
Environmental science social action groups are additional ways to stay involved. College campuses are notorious for their massive carbon footprint, but students are noticing and taking action. Some students lean toward greener campuses when deciding between colleges. Student involvement has a significant impact on a greener campus, from water and energy consumption to how the cafeteria food is grown and prepared. “A lot of students that I come across now especially at Spelman that are freshman or sophomores are on the ball when it comes to environmental issues, and could probably teach people in my generation a thing or two.” It all starts with questions. Ask for organic, locally grown or vegetarian food. Ask for low-flow water faucets, energy saving fixtures, recycling and composting. When the student body speaks, school administrators typically listen. Occasionally these requests do not directly correspond with instant answers, but those echoes will be heard with persistence.