Sustainable Works imparts ecofriendly strategies at SMC lecture

Students gathered inside a classroom at Santa Monica College’s main campus last Tuesday for the first discussion of the spring environmental lecture series, entitled “Sustainable Works Grows For You.” SMC professor of geography and environmental studies William Selby introduced speakers Susy Borlido and Holli Fajack, both of Sustainable Works, a non-profit environmental organization.

“Many people say they worry about the environment, but don’t know what to do,” said Borlido, director of Sustainable Works’ Business Greening Program, which provides free services to businesses, aiming to help them become more efficient by saving money and resources.

Borlido explained how representatives help businesses save on energy and water bills, reduce waste, replace toxic chemicals with non-toxic ones, and purchase environmentally safe products.

“We usually see a reduction after a year,” said Borlido.

Two local businesses saw a drastic reduction in waste. LEAF Lifestyle, a company that provides personal training and lifestyle services, reduced its energy use by 82 percent, and restaurant Bru’s Wiffle saw zero waste, Borlido claimed.

Borlido suggested that the best strategies for greening businesses lie within human behavior, such as using mugs instead of paper cups.

Borlido emphasized the three pillars that define sustainability; a strong economy that is able to fund programs, a healthy society, and an environment with clean air and water.

SMC helps fund Sustainable Works, which also receives funding from the Santa Monica Sustainable City Plan, program participants, and grants from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Holli Fajack is the director of Sustainable Works’ Student Greening Program. The peer-to-peer program educates students on environmental issues, and prepares those who want to enter environmental fields.

Like Borlido, Fajack emphasized the human element necessary for sustainability. She said that students should make use of the 17 water stations located on the SMC campus by bringing their own water bottles. She also illustrated the benefits of SMC’s carpool program, Zimride.

Fajack coordinates Student Sustainability Workshops, which consist of 15 to 25 students, who learn how to resolve issues in six key areas; energy, water, waste, chemicals, transportation, and food. Through the student-led workshops, participants attend field trips, prepare video and PowerPoint presentations, and engage in group discussions.

Workshop leaders must attend two eight-hour training sessions to further enhance their leadership skills. Their responsibilities include leading group discussions, preparing the week’s environmental topic, finding solutions to the topic’s issues, and providing support to students.

Sustainable Works is located at 1744 Pearl St. inside the SMC Center for Environmental and Urban Studies, which sponsors the environmental lecture series.