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Here’s a Loud Shout Out for Clean Water, Clean Air and the U.S. EPA!

We will celebrate Earth Day in a couple of months but this is also the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act.  One of WSU’s own, Tom Mayor, who enjoys the Miami Valley’s waterways, created a documentary about the importance of clean, safe rivers, “Call of the Scenic Rivers: an Ohio Journey”.  In the process of researching and producing the video, Tom became keenly aware of the value of the Clean Water Act. The Clean Water Act is just one vital part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’ work to keep us safe.

Why is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency important?  It is all in the name.  The U.S. EPA was created in 1970 to ensure that the soil, water and air that make up the 50 United States of America are safe and healthy. And what a terrific source for unbiased scientific information!  As Thomas Jefferson said, “An informed citizen is the only true repository of the American will”.

Memories are sometimes short for some and very generational. Maybe you’ve seen the movie “Erin Brockovich” which was based on her true story. Many don’t know that in 1969 the Cuyahoga River once again caught fire because of the oily toxic flammable substances released untreated from factories directly into the river.  Let’s not forget the tragedy of Love Canal where birth defects and childhood cancers were linked to soil and water contamination that was built over as a neighborhood school and adjacent playground? All one has to do is google around some to learn a lot about not-so-distant history toxic of industrial waste discharges into our water supplies, into the soil that grows our food and the air that we all breathe.

And just to show that there is no “Away”, the Dayton region has several EPA Superfund Sites including Behr Thermal Products leakage of trichloroethylene (TCE) into the ground. The Behr-McCook Neighborhood site was designated a Superfund clean up site in July 2009.  Not only is there a link to increased cancer rates but there are more connections like socio-economic levels and other social inequalities.  

The so-called Triple Bottom Line is stated several ways:

  • Profit, People, Planet;
  • Economic Viability, Environmental Stewardship, Social Awareness;
  • Economics, Environment, Social Responsibility;
  • Economics, Ecology, Social Equity

which all get at the same idea.  Granted, businesses exist to make a monetary profit but should that be the only reason they exist?  Can we look beyond the short-term profit viewpoint to a Sustainable, long-range perspective where all living things, the environment, and economics are factored in?  Successful businesses live and die by their reputation. Shouldn’t that include taking responsibility for their purchasing and manufacturing processes? Their products and by-products?  The wellbeing of their employees and surrounding communities?  Along with their shareholders by being good stewards that address the triple bottom line?  

Let’s face it—without oversight and laws to regulate toxic substances, industry has compiled a long record of indiscriminately dumping waste, releasing and creating dangerous stock piles of their unwanted waste, and leaving the mess for others to live with and try to clean up at the taxpayers’ expense. 

For our own sake and the health of future generations, we should be supportive and thankful that in 1970 President Nixon and the Congress at that time worked together to protect the environment that we depend on for our livelihoods and our lives.  Often, we did not know that the substances being created were toxic or we believed that Mother Nature would take care of messes we’d created.  The not true mantra of the time, “Dilution is the Solution to Pollution”, was rarely true.).  It took years of research to discover that PCBs would be accumulating in living tissues for decades or CFCs destroying the ozone layer were that living organisms (including humans) depend on to stop penetration of harmful UV rays from the sun.  It took brave whistleblowers like Rachel Carson to gather data, report it and testify to Congress about the harmful effects of synthetic pesticides like DDT.

So, the next time you hear commentary indicating that the US EPA is strangling jobs or that it is detrimental to industry, think twice about the whole story.  Instead, thank the EPA for protecting us by providing scientifically sound guidelines and regulations that keep our air, soil and water clean while promoting safe, productive places for people to live and work, raise healthy families — and we know that there are laws against water catching on fire or spewing toxic vapors. 

Stay strong and vigilant, EPA — keep us informed with sound reliable data and regulations to protect the environment for all living beings, including humans now and into the future.  Industry leaders, like Ray Anderson (Interface Flor) have found better ways to more sustainably manufacture their products using safe regenerative techniques that benefit everyone and create more jobs in a healthy land – economic and environmental health for all — and that is the American Way. 

We all know that companies need to make a profit to survive, but without EPA regulations, corners might be cut and the general public could suffer. As Tom Mayor realized, we shouldn’t take clean water and air for granted.  It is extremely difficult to trust manufacturing plants to monitor their own affluent or disposal of toxic substances when it may cost them more money but the alternative is worse than that (see above!).  With every breath of clean air, every gulp of drinkable water, let’s be grateful for our EPA and those who had our long-term best interests in mind when they created our national environmental watchdog.


Welcome Back to Campus and Happy 2012!

Yes, it is winter but there is still so much Sustainability going on.Be sure to check out the many ways to get involved and these upcoming events:


This is our annual contest where WSU does all we can to increase our recycling on campus. Tallies are posted each week on the RecycleMania website as Wright State University goes up against universities all over the country. Each year for the last 5 years we have improved but this is surely our Break Out Year.

Reduce-Recycle-Reuse-Repurpose are incredibly important so let’s really make a Great Showing this year for RecycleMania. Make sure any recycle-able material gets deposited in the Green Bins.

Why Recycling is Important→

What is recycle-able?

  • Paper
  • Plastic
  • Metal
  • Cardboard
  • Just about anything that is not contaminated with food so wipe out the pizza boxes and rise the yogurt cups.

Raiders Recycle!!!

Gang Green:

The WSU Environmental Action Group will meet in mid-January so watch for that date and location. There are several upcoming ways to get involved like planning for community gardening projects and helping with the latest recycling efforts.

All through January the winning photos are on display in the Student Union Gallery so be sure to stop by. Take in the natural beauty on our campus as capture by 12 very talented students from just about every major across campus.

And when you need to get moving and off campus, check out the offering at Five Rivers Metro Parks this winter. They have a range of outdoor activities, Rec Fest, a Sustainability film series, and gardening classes and shows.  pring is on its way!

And there’s always WSU basketball—GO RAIDERS!!!

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Your daily actions speak louder than words.

How you can make a difference every day

In this column we will explore more topics, people, ideas and projects related to sustainability during 2015 – 2016.

Recyclemania 2015

Just a couple of weeks to go! Recyclemania 2015 is coming to a close.

We are in Week 6 of our annual eight week RecycleMania competition. Clean out those files, clear those shelves -- be sure you are doing your part to Recycle as much as possible before the end of next week.

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