Waiting at a light on my way home the other night, I watched a small older woman in a plush beige jogging suit cross the busy intersection. I was struck by her elaborately coifed hair — and by the half-full garbage bag she carried. Reaching the opposite curb, she crouched in the gutter, and with the same hands that had so deftly gathered and pinned those elegant twists, she gathered sticky plastic cups, crumpled cigarette butts, gum wrappers and other litter discarded by thoughtless drivers and passersby. She stuffed the items in the bag and moved on, unconcerned by the traffic whizzing by.
Some take action while others still debate: Is the sky really falling?
Reports of environmental crisis fill airwaves and newspapers, and popular magazines offer advice on how to green up your family and detox your house. Yet former Vice President Al Gore warns Congress of a “planetary emergency” and meets resistance from naysayers and opponents. A 2006 report by the Pew Research Center says Americans have little concern over global warming while an MIT report issued just months later says there is not only an increasing national recognition of the problem of climate change, there is a growing willingness to do something about it.
Within the Willamette community, there is more than recognition and willingness. There is decisive action. There is no question of whether, only when and what can we do? Students, staff, faculty and alumni all answer: We can reestablish wetlands. We can create awareness in residence halls. We can protect mountain ranges, old growth forests and endangered species while sustaining local communities. We can provide fair wages. We can give up the car keys and turn off the lights. We can live our beliefs. As you read this issue of The Scene, we hope you are inspired to find ways to make sustainable practices part of your life. If everyone will take even little actions — whether bicycling to work or picking up litter on your neighborhood streets — we can all make a big difference.
Note: We at The Scene are making our own commitment to sustainability. With this issue, the magazine is now printed on paper that is 10 percent postconsumer fiber, that meets EPA and FTC guidelines, and that is harvested from well-managed domestic forests. It is printed with soy-based inks on a new sheet size that maximizes usage and minimizes trim waste. All trimmings are recycled by the printing vendor. Making this switch will save 14.43 trees, 6,129 gallons of water, 10.22 million BTUs, 678 pounds of solid waste, 41.66 pounds of waterborne waste and 1,335 pounds of net greenhouse gases.