Sunday, April 14, 2024

Eco-mmitment from Beginning to End

By Kristia Niña Daymiel | September 15, 2023

Green is the true red! Known for its holistic education, Silliman University (SU) for sure has gone beyond just competence, character, and faith. With the threat of environmental degradation that continues to lurk today, SU has made sure to integrate environmentalism into its policies by instilling a sense of responsibility for taking care of the planet in its students. 

 In 2018, Silliman University elevated its environmental policies in response to climate change and environmental issues by promoting zero waste initiatives  and a single-use plastic ban. These institutional advocacies are waste management practices that aim to curb garbage volume and foster sustainability. However, at the time, such efforts had difficulty finding solid footing—eventually being stopped in their tracks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

And in 2022, after a two-year hiatus, SU renewed its environmental initiatives after declaring a “climate emergency”—calling for urgent action in response to the perils of climate change. The university launched this move together with the United Nations, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and scientists

Now, though it has only been a year since the declaration of the climate emergency, SU has already proven its commitment to reducing human activities that contribute to climate change—even as early as the second week of the new academic year. During the Founders celebrations, most specifically the Hibalag Booth Festival, a lot of the event paraphernalia were built at a number of material resources. As such, Sillimanians proved that environmentalism is indeed embedded in them. 

Booths were made from wood, while decorations were sourced from sustainable materials like paper and cardboard. Concessionaires who rented a space in the Hibalag grounds were also obliged to use environmentally friendly packaging. Through the initiative of the Silliman University Environment Committee, the organizers made sure that the premise was always in line with the campus-wide policy of zero waste and the plastic ban. 

But what entices many is how the students handled the Hibalag booth after care—quite funny, but very innovative. Since everything in the area had to be dismantled and kept, many college societies posted and sold their booths online, hoping to dispose of them practically. 

“Selling the booth is the best option, at least the materials will not be stacked or piled up somewhere but instead it is being benefited by the buyer and SPAG Society,” said EJ Catan, governor of the School of Public Affairs and Governance (SPAG) Society. 

The same applied  for the Silliman Chapter of the United Architects of the Philippines Student Auxiliary. The reasons why they considered selling their booth was “lack of storage, no immediate plans of using, and extra funding for the organization,” said Una Geconcillo, president of the organization. 

Apparently, even in the smallest way they can, students can look for an avenue to take down their booths with the least waste possible. Likewise, for the College of Mass Communication, donating its materials and reusing some for further events seemed to be the best way to go.  

Indeed, until the very end of Hibalag, Sillimanians proved how environmentalism is embellished in their red, Silliman spirits—where ecological efforts are carried from pounding nails to unscrewing screws. 

Silliman is a hallmark of well-rounded education. It not only hones its students with competence, character, and faith—but also with the value of stewardship. While ironic to its identity as a red school, Silliman hopes for a green planet.


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