Sustainable Future That Works
60,000: number of premature deaths
that are caused by air pollution annually (American Lung Association).
1.2 billion: number of people worldwide who drink polluted water,
causing hundreds of millions of cases of water related diseases
every year and over 5 million deaths (The Ecologist).
1: Organization in Santa Monica that is dedicated to improve the
status of our environment.
This is Sustainable Works, a non-profit organization that is funded
through the city of Santa Monica. In the fall of 1998, the Santa
Monica Green Team Project was founded which encompassed a staff
that worked as independent contractors to the school and the community.
In the spring of 2001, the Santa Monica Green Team Project was transformed
into Sustainable works. Chantel Zimmerman, one of the founders of
the Santa Monica Green Team, now serves as the Executive Director
of the organization.
Sustainable works’ mission statement describes its goals as
“to manifest the concepts of sustainability and the actions
associated with living a sustainable lifestyle into the daily activities
of individuals, institutions and businesses.” This organization
offers numerous projects that endorse environmentally friendly practices
in community colleges, businesses, and residential communities.
Although Sustainable Works is funded through the city of Santa Monica,
Santa Monica College (SMC) also supports this organization by providing
two office spaces, computer networks, a fax line, computer support,
and many environmental programs such as recycling, worm composting,
and a smart garden.
Along with allocating supplies to Sustainable Works, SMC runs an
eight-week student workshop that deals with environmental conservation.
Students are able to earn extra credit in specific classes after
completion of the program (below is a list of professors that offered
extra credit in the Spring of 2004 for completing the Sustainable
Works program). Throughout the eight weeks, students are put into
crews with a designated crew leader. This leader is usually a student
volunteer that has completed twelve hours of leadership training.
Students and their crew leader join for an in-depth discussion once
a week for an hour and a half at an on-campus site.
Discussions focus on topics in the assigned Sustainable Works “worksbook”.
The “worksbook” provides information on environmental
concerns in such categories as water, energy, waste, chemicals,
transportation/travel, and shopping and food. Each section contains
step-by-step suggestions on how to lessen the student’s environmental
impact. Recommendations include eating less beef and nuts, changing
your light bulbs to Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs (CLF’s),
eliminating junk mail, carpooling, and bringing your own cup when
purchasing your coffee. These suggestions allow students to acknowledge
the damage created by some of their current habits and work to become
more environmentally friendly.
According to Professor Dave Phillips, a psychology teacher at SMC
and one of the founding members of the Santa Monica Green Team,
“The program [Sustainable Works] has reached, I believe, over
a thousand SMC students and perhaps 40 faculty members. The Santa
Monica City manager told me that this program is more effective
in changing the ecological behavior of citizens in the city than
anything else they do.”
One of the thousands of students this program has reached is Lauren
Bialek, a freshman at SMC. She says, “The Sustainable Works
program run through Santa Monica College is a great way to earn
extra credit in classes while also learning about the environmental
problems facing our earth. It doesn’t take up that much time,
and there are many [practical] suggestions they give you, so you
are really able to change your lifestyle and improve the environment.”
Sustainable Works is also helping local Santa Monica businesses
become more sustainable. The organization offers to improve the
environmental impacts certain businesses have on the community through
their Business Greening Program.
The Executive Director of Sustainable Works, Chantel Zimmerman,
explained that “We [Sustainable Works] offer a one-year Business
Greening Program that includes assessments, environmentally responsible
recommendations, support in implementing recommendations selected,
employee education and follow-up assessments to determine impact.”
This organization has had a huge impact on the businesses it has
assessed. Businesses that complete the Greening Program not only
become more environmentally and socially responsible, but they also
save money. With cheaper costs, businesses are able to become more
competitive. Because of these reasons, 50% - 80% of the one-thousand
recommendations given out last year were permanently adopted by
the businesses that had completed the Greening Program.
As well as educating local businesses and today’s youth, Sustainable
Works is enlightening the community of Santa Monica through its
Residential Greening Program. In this program, community members
of the city of Santa Monica are able to complete a six to eight
week workshop similar to the student workshops held at SMC.
The Santa Monica City website explains, “When whole apartment
complexes or condos participate in this program friendships result,
community grows, creative and inspiring building-wide programs (like
recycling) are established and everyone feels good about helping
to improve quality of life. Plus, residents can shave money off
their utility bills.” Residents who complete the workshop,
and are able to successfully alter their lifestyles, can save up
to two-hundred dollars a year by engaging in practices that are
more environmentally sound.
Sustainable Works is an organization that has really set itself
apart from others by using knowledge and action as its key tools
to improving people’s environmental impact. Instead of preaching
to society about today’s environmental problems, Sustainable
Works is providing viable solutions to these challenges. This organization
has raised awareness about the environment, and therefore, people
can no longer ignore the ecological crises facing our earth. It’s
now up to society to implement the recommendations that Sustainable
Works has made easily available.
List of (most) Professors Who Offered Extra Credit in the Spring
of 2004 for Completion of the Sustainable Works Program
Diana Aghabegian Phillip Daughtry Jackie Lanum Wendy Parise
Garen Baghdasarian Tina Feiger Ruth Logan Dave Phillips
Ellen Baker Mary Fonseca Laura Manson William Price
Jim Bland Nancy Hanson Dana Morgan Lynette Shishido
Alan Buckly Christian Hart Pete Morris Bill Selby
Dorothy Chin Amber Katherine John Moss Elizabeth Vance
Karin Costello Gina Ladinsky Mini Nagendran Ventris Woods
Audrey Cramer Daniel Landau Lyle Nichols
Jamie Elfenbein is a full time student
at SMC. She is majoring in Communications with a minor in Education.
She hopes to transfer to either UCLA or NYU in the Fall of 2005.
She is in the Scholars Program and the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society.