A quiet first month and a half at Knox has given Sustainability Director Deborah Steinberg time to adjust to the position and assess further steps to promote sustainability at Knox.
Following in the steps of former Sustainability Director Froggi VanRiper, Steinberg is currently creating plans for the upcoming year as well as three-year plans that are scheduled for completion in the 2018-2019 school year. Most of the initiatives are “big-picture” goals that would optimize campus sustainability in areas including transportation, energy usage and farm production. The last few months have been spent working to finalize these goals and make sure everybody, including the administrative board, is in agreement.
Steinberg’s more concrete goals include smaller on-campus facelifts, such as cleaning up the Share Shop and promoting it so that more students use it.
“There are a lot of the things that sustainability touches, which is really everything, when you’re looking at the social, the economic and the ecological impacts of something; there’s very little that doesn’t touch sustainability,” said Steinberg.
She emphasized that making blueprints for sustainability is impossible without fully knowing what you are working with on a college campus. With only two months in her position, she has yet to develop more full-fledged plans. In the meantime, she is focusing on making sustainability a priority for all Knox students.
Coming from a background in environmental education, Steinberg is passionate about teaching the campus about sustainability and how they can do their part on campus. She’d like to publicize the initiatives that are already present on campus.
“The idea is to really make sustainability sustainable here on campus,” Steinberg said. She wants to see sustainability become a campus norm.
The programming that incoming freshmen students are now presented with during orientation week is helping to make this ideal a reality, according to Steinberg. If it continues, then in four years’ time all students on campus will be aware of the types of plastic that Knox can recycle, composting in the Gizmo and other information provided to them during the sessions. Steinberg’s goal is to make these kinds of things commonplace or second nature, ideas that everybody knows about and does without thinking.
Another example is the Office of Sustainability’s “non-traditional recycling,” which includes printer cartridges, empty cosmetic containers and toothbrushes. But not all students know about these options. Steinberg said that little goals such as getting more students to use non-traditional recycling are important in the long run.
Steinberg has a degree in Landscape Architecture, the designing of outdoor spaces ranging from residential properties to larger urban areas. While she has no intentions of redesigning the campus, she is a strong supporter of student groups who are currently looking to introduce native plants. She said that she is always willing to lend suggestions or ideas on how to do things in a more sustainable way.
Steinberg is impressed with the students and staff who she’s worked with so far during her time on campus. She applauded the different academic fields represented in the President’s Council on Sustainability and how much interest the campus shows in sustainability.
“I have a number of student staff workers, which is great,” she said. “I am in awe of the energy and the excitement. Sustainability is such a big field and I feel like I know a little bit about a lot of things, but there’s always new stuff so I like hearing new ideas. It keeps things fresh.”
Steinberg looks forward to continuing work with the staff to implement new initiatives.
“I feel really supported by campus and administration, students, staff and faculty,” she said.