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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    Going Green, ’80s Style

    The Go Go’s “We Got the Beat” floated out of Ballroom B in the SAC on Saturday night to greet students decked out in leg warmers, bandanna headbands and teased hair.

    No, this is not a remake of the movie “Sixteen Candles,” but ’80s Night, a 1980s-themed rally hosted by the Stony Brook Environmental Club and the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG).

    The night served as one last rallying cry to urge students to show their support for the Bigger Better Bottle Bill.

    The crowd of about 40 students wrote letters to their representatives, enjoyed ’80s themed-candy such as Razzapple Fun-Dip, listened to a series of lectures and participated in games such as hackey sack, bottle bowling, and Kool-Aid pong — a spin-off on the ever-so-popular college game of a similar title.

    Taking advantage of the dim light, students used glow sticks, glow necklaces, and even glow earrings, in a spectrum of colors, to show their love for all things ’80s.

    The ’80s theme was no accident. In his lecture on the strides made by the environmental community over the decades, Joseph Stelling, a campaign organizer for NYPIRG in Albany, informed students the 1980s was the decade for environmental activism. “The decade was very significant,” said Stelling. “A lot of people think of the ’60s and ’70s as the jumping off point for environmental groups and it was, but it takes a while to start making change.” Not until 1984 was concrete evidence established that proved chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), a chemical often found in aerosol cans, led to stratospheric ozone loss. The Montreal Protocol, signed in 1987 by most of the industrialized nations, sought to cut the production of CFC’s in half by 1998. The decade also led to the creation of the Superfund to fund toxic-waste cleanup in New York. There are currently 800 toxic-waste sites in New York and a quarter of them are on Long Island, Stelling said.

    During the 1980s McDonald’s discontinued their practice of using massive Styrofoam boxes to hold their big mac’s and instead moved towards more environmental-friendly cardboard boxes. Not to mention the Bottle Bill. The original Bottle Bill, passed in 1982, requires a five-cent refundable deposit on beer and soda containers sold in New York. This extra financial incentive, combined with the growing awareness of being environmentally conscious, led to a 70 percent reduction in roadside litter since 1982, according to Stelling. The Bigger Better Bottle Bill proposes two updates to the original bill. The revised bill would require five-cent refundable deposits on all non-carbonated beverage bottles, including water bottles and sports drinks like Gatorade. The second would require beverage distributors to transfer any unclaimed deposits to the State Environmental Protection Fund. This would decrease and possibly eliminate the estimated $140 million a year profit beverage companies make off unclaimed deposits, according to NYPIRG.

    A table set up by NYPIRG encouraged students throughout the night to write letters to Senator John Flanagan, representative for the 2nd District, which includes Stony Brook. The letters urged him to include the Bigger Better Bottle Bill in the 2008-09 state budget.

    Luke Schordine, a student concentrating in environmental studies, sat deep in thought composing his hand-written letter to the Senator through Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” and Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.”

    He is optimistic the Bigger Better Bottle Bill will be included this year in the state budget after Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno cut it from the previous budget last March.

    “I wrote a similar letter last year,” said Schordine. “Since there is such a large deficit they need everything they can get. “It is important for Governor Spitzer to hear his constituents. Keep pushing is really all we can do.”

    The Bottle Bill would actually help the State deficit. If the five-cent deposits are expanded to non-carbonated beverages and cans, the amount of money in unclaimed deposits could reach $177 million annually, according to the Container Recycling Institute. This increase in money would then be put back into the system to be used for improving environmental protection by adding more programs.

    “It would help the budget deficit in New York and narrow the gap between environmental needs and sustainable financial support,” according to the Citizens Campaign for the Environment’s website.

    “This [bill] gives back so we have a lot of leverage,” said Jonathan Green, Project Coordinator for Stony Brook’s NYPIRG chapter.

    “We remain eternally optimistic,” said Stelling. If the bill is not included in the budget put out on Apr. 1, they will try again next year.

    Many students did more than write letters. Sophia Pestun and Erica Simanovsky, both freshmen and members of the NYPIRG board, wrote letter to Senator Flanagan and called his office to make their voices heard.

    They also surveyed Stony Brook students about recycling. “We asked the people in the A wing of Ammann College,” said Simanovsky. Of approximately 30 people surveyed, only three said they did not recycle.

    Recycling also played a part in ’80s Night. The Department of Recycling and Resource Management manned a table directly next to NYPIRG’s handing out free buttons with 50 different designs promoting recycling. One button, appealing to the kid in all of us depicted Nemo, from Disney movie “Finding Nemo” with a caption that read: “Keep my ocean clean?don’t pollute!”

    “We’re just trying to tell people about Recyclemania,” said Angelina Whitehorne, Outreach Coordinator for Recyclemania. The nationwide competition between 400 colleges and universities aimed at increasing recycling on college campuses by keeping track of how much each university recycles. The competition is in its fifth week.

    “Recycling of bottles and cans are up 100 percent, but paper not is not as high so we are looking into that,” said Mike Youdelman, a member of the Department of Recycling and Resource Management on campus.

    “If 100 people in every campus dining location used the Red Hot mugs we would save 600 paper cups each day,” said Whitehorne during a presentation on Recyclemania.

    “At Stony Brook we try to make recycling a convenient and habitual part of campus life so that it is second nature,” he said.

    If included in the budget, the Bigger Better Bottle Bill would also help increase recycling by providing broke college students with a way to make some extra change while saving the environment.

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