GC Students Lead in Green


Rebecca Meghani, Asst. A&L Editor

With environmental concerns growing, we hear about projects intended to make the Earth greener worldwide. While we can donate and help large projects around the world, many students are unaware of the green projects happening in their own backyards. On GC’s campus, many students’ projects intended to make campus greener fly under the radar but have had major impacts on our campus.

People from all different sides of campus have ongoing projects that benefit campus in different ways. Deidra Kellerman, freshman business management major with a minor in sustainability, is a part of the Sustainability committee on Student Government Association (SGA) and has ongoing and past green projects.

“For SGA Sustainability, we’re giving out free bamboo toothbrushes and reusable straws and we hope to do this every semester going forward,” Kellerman said. “Small changes are always a possibility for everyone. To make the large changes, that’s going to come through legislation and larger companies but we, as everyday people, can be responsible and aware of ways in our reach to help the environment.”

Kellerman has had previous success with her green projects for campus. The most recent one was a bag swap where students were able to obtain a GC tote in exchange for plastic bags.

“We just ordered more tote bags to do another bag swap,” Kellerman said. “We collected over 500 plastic bags at the beginning of the semester and all those bags go to a food pantry to reuse and distribute in Atlanta and any other reusable plastic bag services like knitting for the homeless mats. A lot of students really liked it and I was really happy with the outcome so I’m excited for those new bags to come in.”

Kellerman has future green efforts planned for campus, such as planting wildflower seeds to increase the bee population that benefit essential ecosystem functions and pollination, putting more recycling on campus and have GC write grants for putting more solar panels on campus.

A group of students that are involved in GC’s Condensed Matter Research are currently working on a solar panel project that has been implemented on campus. At GC’s EarthFest on Earth Day, the group was presenting a Portable Solar Generator (PSG), named Luma, that had 5 sun-powered solar panels that generate 500 watts of power. Noah Pendrey, sophomore physics major, discusses how the group is working on making a PSG that would be 2×2 and generate 300 watts of power so that it can be more accessible.

“We’re actually working right now to weatherproof Luma to set it up permanently so we can turn solar energy to electrical energy to power appliances so it’s not giving off harmful gases,” Pendrey said. “We’re making a smaller version of it and we hope to take that to natural disasters to relieve other gas generators. The research group was created just for the purpose of creating solar energy to go more green in the environment and help on campus.”

This project began a couple years ago by Dr. Hasitha Mahabaduge, associate professor of physics, and past students. Currently, Evan Dunnam, Noah Pendrey, Bennet Schwab, John Kiersznowski and Wesley Sutton are the students working on creating a PSG prototype that will be a smaller version of what already exists.

While these seem like large changes that are difficult to partake in because of limited knowledge and skill, students can make small changes in their lives through already existing GC green efforts. The GC West Campus Garden is a student-led project that grows herbs, plants and produce that is open to the public. This project was completed in 2015 with help from the Gardening Club, the Office of Sustainability and other volunteers.

“The plants on West Campus are open to anyone,” said Nicole Wright, the student arboretum specialist in the Office of Sustainability. “You go by and pick whatever you want. Right now, we’re doing a bed rental program for the summer so professors and community members have rented a bed and they’re planting whatever they want in it so it’s making gardening more accessible for people.”

Students can get involved by participating in the West Campus Garden’s workdays where they can provide help with general maintenance to the garden or just by composting at West Campus Garden behind the John Kurt Baseball field.

There continues to be student efforts to help campus become greener where anyone can be directly involved in change with minimal effort. Whether the changes in students’ lives are as big as creating more possibilities for solar energy or as small as recycling and composting on campus, no effort is too little because of the benefits that it can have on the earth and an individual’s life.