Over the past few years, Knox College has made great progress in trying to create a “greener,” more sustainable campus. The Sustainability Task Force, led by President Roger Taylor, leads that effort primarily by encouraging open discussion on how Knox can become a more environmentally-friendly campus.
Monday, September 21st, the Task Force hosted actor and environmental activist Holter Graham who spoke to the community about the convergence of his art and activism.
Graham has appeared in such movies as Fly Away Home and Stephen King’s Maximum Overdrive. He currently hosts the television show “Wa$ted” on Planet Green. On that show, he helps families reduce their environmental impact by becoming more efficient.
“Efficiency is at the core of the environmental movement,” Graham said. “Some of the most innovative scientific research now being done is in the area of efficiency.”
Graham spent the earlier part of Monday on an eco-tour of the Knox Campus which included the Dining Services facilities, the Eco House and the Phi Gamma Delta “Fiji” house. His impression was that Knox is doing extremely well in the area of sustainability.
“Across the board, everything was above the bar,” he said.
As noted earlier, the convergence between art and activism was meant to be the main theme of the lecture. It was on the set of Maximum Overdrive that Graham first realized his environmental passions. It all started with a simple empty Coke can. No trashcan was nearby, and Graham couldn’t bring himself to litter.
“It was then that I realized what I was, what I am: an actor, a storyteller for the modern age,” he said. He then went on to explain the role of the artist in society and explained how his views fit into his profession.
“There are a lot of people who throw around the word artist. I believe the artist’s job is to show humanity, a vision of itself to help it grow and come away with a better understanding of itself,” he said.
He then led the audience in a loud declaration of, “I am an artist!”
“You’ll experience integrated growth as you age. It will seamlessly bring together who you are and what you believe. This happens if you allow your passions about the world to connect to your profession and your art,” he said. “Pursue your paycheck, your art, and your passion equally. After a while, they will start to come together.”
Graham got his start at Skidmore College in Sarasota Springs, New York, a liberal arts school similar to Knox. He praised Knox, and all liberal arts schools, for giving students a cross-disciplinary education that helps them to see the world’s interconnectedness.
“At Knox, you have the open-mindedness and fearlessness to create great change. The planet is getting dirtier and dirtier under our stewardship. The current generation isn’t doing the best job. You guys are the next generation. Wrest control from those before you!” he said.
Surprisingly, Graham did not call for students to make any drastic changes in their lives in order to save the planet.
“If we all get together and do a few things, we can make a huge change. Something as small as a teeny adjustment of the thermostat helps a great deal,” he said.
He then went on to give concrete data behind the theory that small changes make a big difference. “If every American swapped one roll of paper towels with a recycled one, we would save 145, 000 trees. That’s fifty softball fields worth. Here’s another one to think about for a second: The sun hits the planet in one day with enough energy to power it for the whole year. Just think if scientists could find a way to better harness that!” Graham said.
Another innovative way to help the environment that he suggested is “buycotting.”
“That term simply means to purchase greener products, eschewing those made by wasteful companies. Doing this creates a bigger market for “green” products, which makes companies more likely to invest in them which, in turn, makes more and more people likely to buy them,” Graham explained.
Everything that Graham urged students to start doing to help the environment seemed to point to just one imperative goal: the need for humanity to collectively band together to save the planet.
“You have to live in the real world and make sure you live there responsibly,” Graham said. “It’s a nice planet and, the last time I checked, the only one we have.”
A Few Helpful Knox Tips On How to Be Environmentally Friendly
Shut lights off when you leave a room.
Plug your electronics and appliances into a power strip, then you can shut all of them off at the strip so they aren’t using electricity by being plugged in.
If your mini fridge is empty, stuff a sweatshirt inside to cut down on energy costs.
Turn off running water while brushing teeth, washing dishes, and shaving.
Take advantage of the Knox Recycling Program by putting your recyclables outside your building on Thursday mornings.
If it’s a sunny day, open your blinds and windows and get your light from the sun.
When printing PDF’s or other materials for class in one of the computer labs, use the “multiple pages per sheet” option. Chances are there is a lot of white space not being used on every reserve or reading you print off.
Don’t throw away one-sided printed documents. Place them in the boxes in the computer labs for the Recycle printer.