Ecologically Excellent

The Spectrum

UB's environmental network is fighting for a greener future.

Students exposed international and local ecological issues on Tuesday during an Environmental Extravaganza. Covering a vast range of topics – such as sustainable farming, overfishing, shark de-finning, hydraulic fracturing in New York State, and offshore wind energy – students were well informed on current green efforts.

"We're trying to raise awareness about a number of different environmental issues that are both local and globally related," said Kristina Blank, a junior environmental studies major and president of the Environmental Network (EN).

Blank was eager to comment on the controversial issue of hydraulic fracturing, which is currently banned in New York.

"One of the things we are showcasing is hydro-fracking, a method of extracting natural gas from the grounds," Blank said. "Studies have shown that in over a thousand cases it has led to groundwater contamination. The chemicals that they use often end up leaking into the aquifer, and in some cases in Pennsylvania, people can actually light their tap water on fire because of the methane that is in there. We're trying to spread the message and get people to take action against it by closing the loophole which says that the process does not have to be regulated by the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act."

Jason Mazurowski, a senior environmental studies and geology and major, explains why students need to have a heightened awareness on this growing concern.

"I think it's really important to get the word out about hydraulic fracturing, mostly because a significant portion of the student population is from the New York City watershed," Mazurowski said. "That's the area that's going to be directly affected and those kids don't know a whole lot about what's going on, especially being in this area when the political heat is going on down in that area."

The "Bag Monster" was popular with students at the event. EN members took turns wearing the eco-costume and walking around the SU. The display of over 500 bags represented the number of plastic bags used by an average American in a given year, making a dramatic statement to students and advocating for immediate action.

Casey Gordon, a sophomore environmental studies major and a participant of the "Bag Monster," felt that students really saw the big picture and need for change.

"It really gets the message out there," Gordon said. "For the most part, I'm gaining looks and smiles. But every time I'll go talk to a person, they'll listen to what I have to say. I had one person asking me if I was going to win the Guinness Book of World Records for the most amounts of bags worn. But I think most people are interested to see what it's all about."

Jessie Dresch, a senior Spanish major and the creator of the "Bag Monster," shares her passion for green initiatives.

"We really wanted to have a day where we could just inform students about all sorts of initiatives going on, not only at UB but throughout the Buffalo area," Dresch said. "We have things that all of our members are passionate about. We also have a huge 'Save Our Hemlocks Day' on Dec. 7, so this is almost like a test-run for that. We're selling bracelets here to save money for this cause."

While browsing through booths of information and environmental facts, students also had the opportunity to make free trail mix, try out the new Rock Band 3, and win a free T-shirt while making hemp bracelets for a dollar.

"The Environmental Network is great, but honestly, I didn't know they were doing anything today," said Ashley Wiehl, a senior biology major. "Just from coming by and reading up on everything, I have learned a lot of stuff today – ways that our environment is kind of going to hell, but also ways that we can actively change it."