~A guest blog post by Nyack College student, Kassie Neumann
College students often have a reputation for holding entitlement attitudes that desire their colleges and the world to cater to their wants in life. Occasionally however, the world encounters a group of students who are quietly but firmly standing against these attitudes. These students live with gratitude and are seeking how God can work through them throughout their college years. This fall, the honors students at Nyack College ran the annual Hunger Banquet, and this year the topic of was on “The Sustainability of Earth’s Resources” and the part that fifty-two students could play in this project.
The evening began with students scarfing down pots of chili made with the more sustainable resources of chicken and almonds instead of ground beef. Guests were required to recycle all plates and eating utensils, even placing unwanted food in a compost bucket. Throughout dinner, students groups gave presentations on living sustainably in dorm life. Some of the student groups were the “Shower Shavers” who spoke on ways to conserve water, the “Trash Talkers” who educated us about garbage waste, and “Watt’s On” who discussed energy consumption. What struck and surprised me was how different these students’ conversations were from the discussions usually associated with “saving the earth”. The difference was that these students had a vision for larger change, but their vision was also planted in ground level solutions. That is a rare difference. This difference was evident as they offered us actions and not just words, framing their solutions into what college students would practically be able to accomplish. We were all placed in accountability groups that were assigned specific ways to live more sustainably such as spending less time in the shower. The students will be collecting data and keeping track on our efforts throughout the coming months.
The group “Shower Savers” told us that we would save gallons of water if we just shaved two minutes off our shower time or turned the water off while brushing our teeth. They educated us about water shortages in the United States and what that could mean for us in the future. Often as citizens in the North East we take water for granted every time we turn on the facet, but this group gave us an understanding of why practicing conservation is still important even in New York. “Watt’s On” showed video interviews with students on our levels of unnecessary energy consumption such leaving lights turned on, allowing phone chargers and computers to stay plugged in when not in use, and leaving fans on all night. They had all the guests raise their hands and put down hands if they had left lights on or had left electronics plugged in that night. That brought the topic to a personal level for us as few hands were left raised.
“Trash Talkers” cautioned us to be conscious of the levels of trash we create. They kindly but firmly convinced the group of our lack of stewardship in this area as we live as Christians in a disposable culture. This group also spoke about the spiritual significance of protecting earth’s resources, and how sometimes we as Christians do not concern ourselves with protecting the earth because of our future exit to heaven. However, “Trash Talkers” presented a different perspective on this by offering the understanding that when the Scriptures says that “For God so loved the world”, it means that God loves and redeems the world in the sense of people, but also that He loves and will redeem the physical earth as well. If God loves our physical planet, then perhaps we ought to love and care for it as well? What also struck me was that this group spoke on how contentment actually breaks the cycle of our cultures’ heavy consumption and disposal of goods. The Biblical call to contentment allows us to consume fewer goods, produce less garbage, and therefore propel us into a cycle of sustainability. Throughout the night it was fascinating and encouraging for me to see how living out the Biblical calls on our lives can result in a safekeeping of our world, and that such a safekeeping can start with a group as small as fifty-two.