Friends of Earth pushes Claflin environmental efforts

By: ‚Äč Panther Staff
Mar 27, 2018

PANTHER 2018 spring sustainability speaker

Dr. Tantiana Burns discusses the university's sustainability efforts. (Panther photo)


Friends of the Earth is the face of student-organized sustainability at Claflin University.

The adviser to the organization is Dr. Tantiana Burns, assistant professor of environmental science. On March 1, she addressed issues surrounding Claflin’s efforts at being environmentally friendly.

“Claflin University has included sustainability as one of their strategic goals,” Burns said.  “We want to educate about sustainability.”

She defined sustainability as preserving natural resources and developing alternatives that have little or no impact on the environment.

After a 2011 assessment, Claflin established strategic goals for sustainability. “We did an internal assessment that included faculty, staff, students across all disciplines,” Burns said. 

From there, Claflin established four areas of focus with sustainability in 2014:

1. Greening projects -- students doing community service and recycling.

“We saw that we already had students doing community service, and we already had recycling projects at Claflin.”

2. Advocacy -- hosting Earth Day activities.

“When it comes to the advocacy, the student organization Friends of the Earth was hosting Earth Day activities during the week leading up to April 22, which is the official day for Earth Day.”

3. Teaching and research -- improve lab classes and facilities.

“We were improving our laboratory courses. We were reducing the use of toxic chemicals in those labs.”

4. Construction and facilities --- A highlight is increasing energy efficiency to reduce electric costs.

Claflin is expanding recycling efforts to all buildings on campus, Burns said.

Additional priorities are:

  • Replacing broken appliances with more energy-efficient ones.
  • Shutting down utilities when campus buildings are not in use for periods of time. For example, during Christmas breaks, all power strips and lights are off.
  • Introducing freshmen to ways to reduce their carbon footprint.
  • Having to Friends of the Earth members trained and serving as greening ambassadors and leaders for projects.

Friends of the Earth and Claflin to date have taken their efforts off campus as well, with teaching sessions at local elementary schools and Earth Day activities in downtown Orangeburg.

“We are currently planning a recycle fashion show,” Burns said.

Claflin’s environmental efforts also extend to research. Dr. Burns is working on a bioremediation project.

It focuses on using a natural organism (bacteria, algae) to make a chemical less toxic.

“We introduce a cancer-causing agent into the algae and allow it to grow to see if it reduces the toxicity of cancer,” she said.

 This story is compiled from reports by Da’Teisha Graham, Alexis Bookman, Jelah Anderson and Jasminn Dow.

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