SPEARFISH | Black Hills State University’s annual Sustainability Day will showcase efforts made by the University and members of the Spearfish community to lower their carbon footprint.
Sustainability Day is Wednesday, Oct. 22. This year’s theme, “Empowering Change on Campus and in the Community,” will encourage others to make changes in their lifestyle and promote sustainable practices.
“We hope to educate and encourage people to make a lifestyle change and consider the impact of their food purchases,” said Katie Greer, sustainability coordinator at BHSU.
Events begin with a water taste test challenge from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday in the Student Union lobby. Participants will sample water and try to determine which is tap and which is bottled.
The challenge is meant to encourage the use of reusable water bottles and better recycling habits.
“After the petroleum used to manufacture a plastic water bottle and energy resources for filling and shipping, bottled water is up to 2,000 times more energy intensive than tap water,” Greer said. “It also costs more than 1,000 times more.”
Greer said that bottled water is not necessarily healthier, either.
“Tap water is held to stricter safety standards and transparency, and requires more frequent testing than bottled water,” she said.
Most plastic water bottles end up in a landfill rather than being recycled, as well, Greer added.
“We want people to take a second to think about whether the extra environmental and economic costs are worth the convenience of a pre-packaged bottle,” Greer said.
At noon on Wednesday, a special screening of the documentary “Growing Cities” will be shown in the David B. Miller Yellow Jacket Student Union Jacket Legacy Room.
The film examines the role of urban farming in America and questions how much power it has to change the way Americans eat. Filmmakers Dan Susman and Andrew Monbouquette traveled across the country for the documentary and met the men and women who are making a difference in how America grows and distributes its food.
During the film, a buffet of local meats, cheese, eggs and vegetables will be served at no cost.
Michael Stanley, who is currently enrolled in BHSU’s Master of Sustainability program and the owner of the landscape architecture firm 42nd Street Design Studio in Rapid City, is sponsoring the local meal during the film.
“We recognize the importance of local foods and the positive impact utilizing these sources has on growing the economy, consuming higher quality foods and reducing environmental impacts,” Stanley said. “I hope to show that this luncheon demonstrates how local foods can fill our everyday needs.”
After the film, a discussion will be held on growing food in the Spearfish area. The panel includes Trish Jenkins and Jeremy Smith of Cycle Farm in Spearfish, Dr. Abigail Domagall, assistant professor of geology at BHSU, and Dawn Habeck, owner of Black Hills Milk and the Red Barn Farmer’s Market, both in Spearfish.
Greer said she hopes the panel will show others the benefits to enjoying local food. BHSU plants a campus garden each year that produces more than 1,300 pounds of produce used in campus dining facilities.
In addition, there will be free coffee from 8 to 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at The Buzz Shack for those with a reusable mug. Other small booths will be set up in the Student Union, including the South Dakota Project Learning Tree (SD PLT), a youth environmental program in Spearfish. Tracy Sigdestad, a student in the Master of Sustainability program at BHSU, is the coordinator of SD PLT.
BHSU is a leader in sustainability. Earlier this year, BHSU was awarded the Association of Physical Plant Administrators (APPA) Sustainability Award, which recognized BHSU’s advancements in sustainability efforts and educational facilities.
BHSU’s student union and science lab is Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) certified and is enrolled in the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System (STARS) program to measure success in sustainable efforts.
The University was awarded a STARS silver rating by the Association for the Advancement of Higher Education and BHSU dining services The Hive and The Buzz Shack were given a 2-Star Certified Green Restaurant by the Green Restaurant Association (GRA).
In addition, students can participate in a sustainability education program each semester and earn educational certificates and degrees with an environmental emphasis.