2024 Rachel Carson Campus Fellows and Stanback Fellows Articles

“To Be, Rather Than to Seem:” False Promises of Sustainability

Ben Pluska

02-20-24

Driving up the last swell of mountain on Highway 421 towards Boone, North Carolina, a wind turbine pierces the horizon. The turbine is surrounded by sloping hills of trees and foliage that blanket your vision. This small corner of the Appalachian Mountains is charmed by its idyllic image comprised of a thriving forest and rural Appalachian life.

The Broyhill Wind turbine installed on ASU’s campus is 153 feet tall. Photo: Appalachian State University

The surrounding mountains also cradle Appalachian State University (ASU), a public educational institution that is part of the UNC System. ASU enrolls approximately 20,000 students in a town with a total residential population of 19,000 people. Read more


Joining the “No-Buy Challenge”

Valeria Obregon

02-18-24

From billboards to ads in our social media feeds to influencers advertising new products and more, we are constantly surrounded by advertising. Yet, there is a disconnect between the desire to buy and use these material goods and knowing what goes into the production process behind the glitter and the fate of our purchase once we discard it. This disconnect is what makes consumerism thrive. According to Parcel Path, Amazon delivers 3.5 million packages daily in the United States alone. That means more than a billion packages annually. Capitalist consumer culture flourishes on rapidly changing trends that are not intended to benefit the consumer, but instead to fill the pockets of huge companies. Read more


Are You Afraid to Ask?

Valeria Obregon

02-18-24

If you are involved in environmental activism on a college campus, you will soon realize that you can’t do it alone. Asking for help can be scary and nerve-racking, especially when you don’t know where to go, or have been faced with getting a “No!” in the past. Though people’s willingness to help is out of your control, here are a few strategies to strengthen your ask, to increase your chances of getting a “Yes!”

As the president and founder of SLU Close the Loop, a club at St. Lawrence University dedicated to fostering and promoting exchange and swap culture to reduce waste on campus, I want to share my successful experience of performing an ask to the President’s Office and other senior staff. I hope my story will inspire you and help you get the “Yes!” from your school’s administration that you are looking for. Read more


An Island Out of Time – Tom Horton’s Classic, A Climate Change Reminder

Nathan Villiger

01-16-24

When Tom Horton traded his Baltimore row home for an old fisherman’s house on Smith Island, he did so not intending to write a book but rather because Horton “… liked to muck around in the marshes of my native Chesapeake.” Despite his original plans, less than a decade later Horton would publish an account of his family’s time on Smith Island, titled An Island Out of Time: A Memoir of Smith Island in the Chesapeake. The title originally referred to Smith Island’s unique culture, reminiscent of early tidewater settlements that have all but disappeared from Maryland’s mainland; today it has a much more relevant second meaning. Read more


Climate Footprint Labels: Eco-Conscious Trend or Greenwashing Target?

Karina Marinovich

01-12-24

As 2024 begins, trend forecasters are predicting what the new kale or hoverboard will be this year. 2024’s emerging trends range from declining fertility rates to the revamping of in-person retail shopping. Perhaps the hardest trend to ignore is rising global temperatures. Environmental consciousness is increasingly present in the public discourse, and the market has to respond accordingly. Consumer preferences are evolving around buzzwords like “upcycled” and “microplastics” as being green becomes more and more virtuous. Read more


Proposed LNG Terminal Brings More Environmental Injustice to Chester, PA

Caroline Bower

01-11-24

For decades, Chester, Pennsylvania has faced environmental injustices from the laundry list of polluters that plague the town. It is located just 15 miles south of Philadelphia and is home to over 43,000 residents, 65% percent of whom are African-Americans. At 25%, the poverty rate there is three times the national average.

Chester is considered a low-income city within the more affluent, mostly white Delaware County. There is a disproportionate number of industrial polluting facilities there, including the state’s largest trash incinerator, the nation’s largest medical waste storage facility, and a large-scale sewage and sludge treatment facility, among other numerous waste processing plants, oil refineries, and industrial manufacturing centers. Read more


Greenhushing?

Salvatore Cottone

01-10-24

In this era of heightened environmental awareness, the term “greenwashing” frequently makes headlines, spotlighting companies that overstress their eco-friendly efforts. However, there’s a less discussed but equally critical counterpart: “green hushing.” This term came to my attention during a global sustainability class I took this semester, which explored the intricate challenges corporations face in attaining sustainability objectives. Read more


COP 28 and Campus Engagement

Chrishma D. Perera

01-10-24

The Conference of Parties (COP) takes place every year, with the participation of individuals and groups representing countries worldwide. The main purpose of COP is to agree on ways to address the climate crisis and associated challenges. This year COP 28 was held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) from November 30th to December 12th with the participation of more than 70,000 delegates. Here, I aim to outline the significant landmarks of COP 28 for the campus community and youth. Read more


The Next Frontier of Greenwashing: Petrochemical PR

Sophia Donskoi

01-09-24

With a growing industry, we can expect to see more chatter about petrochemicals, but what are they, and why does how the industry communicates?

In the evolving landscape of global energy consumption, oil companies are adapting their strategies as the world shifts towards renewable energy sources. Recently, fossil fuel companies have told their shareholders that as society moves away from oil and gas, they will keep profits up by investing in petrochemicals. Petrochemicals are expected to account for nearly 30 percent of oil demand by 2030. Petrochemicals are nearly ubiquitous in everyday life, but most consumers are unaware that their favorite products are made from or contain them. Read more


Greenwashing Garbage: Turning Trash into Profits

Ben Pluska

01-09-24

The Green for Life (GFL) Environmental Holdings Facility is located in the small predominately Black and working-class community of Snow Hill nestled in the Coastal Plains Region of North Carolina just a few miles west of the county seat of Sampson County, Clinton, NC. Snow Hill is comprised of 20 households scattered among fields of corn and soy right off NC Highway 24. The residents of Snow Hill have family roots that span generations. And as their lives became entrenched in the rural southern landscape by way of their ancestral history, so did the landfill in their back yards. Read more