The Green Zone: Where Sustainability and Justice Intersect

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Fostering dialogue on sustainability, climate change, and social and environmental justice

A student working in a garden.

 

Nowadays, the news changes every minute, and scanning headlines and scrolling through social media posts can be overwhelming. In response, you’ve probably found yourself wondering, “How can I have an impact?” and “Where do I even start?” That’s where NYU One Zone trainings come in. NYU offers a dozen interactive trainings to cultivate a more informed and inclusive community of students, staff, and faculty.

NYU’s newest One Zone training, the Green Zone, seeks to foster dialogue on sustainability and climate change. Hosted by the NYU Office of Sustainability, the two-hour training focuses on honing your knowledge of environmental and social justice and setting intentions to be a better person—and create a better world.

Collage of a reusable water bottle.

Small Changes, Big Impacts

In Union Square a large clock ticks down the minutes until the impacts of global warming become irreversible. It certainly gets your attention—and it’s pretty terrifying. So, beyond recycling and buying local, how can you contribute to a greener, fairer world? “One of my main takeaways from the Green Zone training was how each and every little thing I do to promote sustainability can help out in the long run,” shares Akash Nagapurkar, Tandon Class of 2023. “It’s easy to say, ‘Oh, my throwing away this plastic bottle won’t make a big difference.’ But over time, those small differences add up; those water bottles pollute on a massive scale. The training was a great reminder of that.”

It’s Not Easy Being Green

In addition to exploring key concepts related to sustainability and equity, the Green Zone provides a space in which community members can safely discuss their and others’ attitudes and behaviors. Each training opens by prompting participants to set a personal goal for attendance. Then, the group runs through some basic definitions: sustainability, climate change, and environmental justice. Together, they discuss the social, economic, and environmental implications of sustainability. This builds a sense of accountability and community.

Finally, the session closes by emphasizing the need to take meaningful action against climate change. Everyone brainstorms actions they can take as individuals as well as further steps NYU can take to create a more sustainable, just campus. For example, Abby Brachio, Liberal Studies Class of 2023, shares, “Everyone attending the training with me was a representative for one of NYU’s residence halls. So, each of us has some influence over building operations. We learned that over 70 percent of New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings. Consequently, we discovered that we can make a big impact changing how our buildings operate.”

Students sitting in a classroom.

The More the Merrier

From the UndocuZone, which introduces participants to issues facing the undocumented community, to the Faith Zone, which engages participants in dialogue about religion and spirituality, there’s a One Zone training for anyone who wants to make a difference. For instance, the Justice Zone introduces NYU community members to concepts like diversity, equity, and social justice through the lens of race and identity. Additionally, it provides a strong foundation for the Green Zone training, familiarizing participants with issues of social justice. For the remainder of this semester, all trainings will be held virtually.