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Junior makes most of environmental journey

Emily Greene admits that she was not environmentally active before arriving at Binghamton University.

“I didn’t come here with an environmental mindset,” the 21-year-old junior from Holbrook said. “But it wasn’t like I was anti-environment. There were no clubs in my high  school and there’s not much of an environmental culture on Long Island.”

Greene’s transformation to environmental advocate started her freshman year, when she began shopping with reusable bags. During her sophomore year, she attended a Campus Climate Challenge meeting and got involved in some of the group’s projects. The experience motivated Greene to take a climate change class with Peter Knuepfer, director of environmental studies.

The journey has led Greene to the presidency of Campus Climate Challenge, an organization that promotes sustainability on campus and in the community.

“It’s been a big change for me: My majors don’t really go along with this,” the biochemistry and mathematics double-major said with a laugh.

Knuepfer is impressed with Greene’s focus and passion for the environment.

“It’s a lot less common for me to see and get to know someone who is positioning themselves professionally in a different direction and yet feels so strongly committed to environmental issues that they are not only going to become active, but become a leader in environmental initiatives,” he said.

Campus Climate Challenge will table during the University’s Earth Day festivities on April 22 and will participate in Earth Fest at MacArthur Elementary School in Binghamton on April 24. The group also will take part in a “Trashion Show” from 6-9 p.m. April 19 in the Old Union Hall, as members walk down the runway wearing outfits made of plastic bags, milk jugs and produce mesh bags.

Campus Climate Challenge has helped to promote Recyclemania and has worked with Gear Up to teach high school students about small changes that can be made to help the environment, such as taking shorter showers and turning off lights.

Greene, who is also involved with Habitat for Humanity and the Student Environmental Awareness Club, will step down as Campus Climate Challenge president at the end of the semester. She will spend next year in an advisory role while continuing her research work with Eriks Rozners, associate professor of chemistry. In Rozners’ lab, Greene modifies ribonucleic acids and tests how stable they are.

Greene hopes to spend a year after graduation with a service project such as AmeriCorps before going to graduate school for biochemistry. She does not think about the difference she has made on campus over the last year.

“I’m just trying to focus on continuing to work, because it’s so difficult to measure (success),” she said. “I hope in the end that I did manage to make some people think twice before they threw something out that could be reused.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08