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Ellie Doering / Gavel Media

BC’s False Commitment to Environmental Justice

Boston College prides itself on being a leader in sustainability and eco-friendly initiatives. BC was able to “divert the most recycling from the waste stream and landfills” against colleges of equal size across the nation, winning first place in the 2023 Campus Race to Zero Waste. Additionally, BC was awarded gold for its report on sustainability by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s STARS (Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System). 

The Office of Sustainability at Boston College stated that BC “encourages students to reduce waste and extend the lifespan of their goods [to] exemplify [the] message from Saint Ignatius of Loyola.” Contrary to the environmental figurehead that BC presents itself to be, falsities and actions by the school go against its mission of sustainability.

CoRo Cafe and Market contain a bin labeled with a composting sign, but the compost bag is combined with the trash and taken out as waste. A lack of workers to ensure the compost bins contain only compost could contribute to this discrepancy. Still, this practice is going against what is being preached by BC, as the Office of Sustainability states, “Dining staff will compost for you in McElroy Commons.”

The lack of composting is a shock as BC primarily promotes its eco-friendly composting mission. Environmental studies major Maria Leon '27 states, “It’s disappointing that BC isn’t doing more to follow through with composting.” Sharing the sentiment of many students, she would like to see “BC become a more green and sustainable campus.” 

The Office of Sustainability at Boston College states that “All compost will be converted to fuel to power a waste treatment plant north of Boston.” To transfer compost into biofuel, a process called Core occurs that “separates the majority of non-organic materials such as plastics,” the Environmental Eagle writes, thus providing a solution for wrongly composted materials. Without the compost being transported to the waste treatment plant, the consequences include increased fossil fuel use.

Students who wish to compost and live an environmentally conscious life still have sustainable options. For those living in off-campus residences of six units or less, Boston has launched a “free, curbside food waste collection service.” Currently, the program is in the developing stages, so participation is limited; however, you can pre-enroll for this fall. For those who live on campus, the new Green2Go program at BC allows for the use of a reusable to-go container to reduce waste from plastic or paper disposable containers. Andrew Choksi '27, an avid user of Green2Go, shares that the containers “are a great way to stay environmentally conscious on campus while also getting a discount,” which is “a win-win all around.” Although it is discouraging that creating a sustainable campus falls onto the students instead of the administration, it is a cause worth supporting.

Aside from composting, BC strays from its sustainability efforts by refusing to divest. In Laudato Si, a 2015 encyclical letter by Pope Francis, he says divestment is a moral obligation. Many Catholic groups have removed investments from industries such as coal, oil, and gas, amounting to trillions of dollars moved away from fossil fuels. The Global Fossil Fuel Commitment Database lists hundreds of universities and faith-based organizations that have divested; however, Boston College is nowhere to be found.

Student organizations on campus have attempted to persuade BC to divest to little avail. The dichotomy between BC’s Office of Sustainability claiming to “embrace sustainability goals in the area of energy and climate change” through the “implementation [of] energy conservation measures across facilities” while refusing to remove investments in fossil fuels demonstrates the false commitment of BC towards the environment. Promoting an image of environmental progress while maintaining damaging conditions harms the students’ trust in their university.

For those passionate about divestment, there are opportunities to promote these goals by joining clubs such as Climate Justice at Boston College. By promoting resources that focus on divestment, Climate Justice at BC offers a way to support the mission to end the fossil fuel industry. Links and helpful information can be found at climatejusticebc.com.

It is more imperative than ever to contribute to the goals of sustainability. Without BC’s adherence to environmental missions and Jesuit ideals, it is vital that BC students advocate and promote sustainable measures in our community.

Madelyn Esser

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