The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about climate change, is the proleptic picture of a frightening future. A future full of doom. The Berlin sky feels infected: still, stagnant, and stale, like an overhead sewer. The air smells of gasoline, tar, and dirty dust. When it rains, the rain is acid rain; if it is a snow squall, it is acrid.
But this picture of doom, ubiquitous in climate change rhetoric like the United Nations Development Programme’s “Don’t choose extinction,” campaign, draws a scary picture of a doomsday scenario where the doom is predetermined and nothing can be done.
There is a global hesitation to address climate change at the speed with which the urgency of climate protection warrants. This can be observed by the non-binding agreements which are thematic when it comes to a global response to the climate crisis. For one, in the recent Volksentscheid, Berlin voters were in no rush for a binding climate-neutrality by 2030, but settled on a “more realistic, non-binding goal of 2045”. Not to mention, the 700 non-binding commitments that were the outcome of the first UN global water conference. Ditto the 2022 Montreal biodiversity pact, and the 2015 Paris climate accords, which are also insufficiently binding.
While making binding agreements to protect the future of our environment seems elusive on a global scale, we can’t just boil the ocean by sitting, being sad and defeated. We need to start from somewhere and effect impactful eco-friendly practices in our everyday lives. Starting small and steady. This is where BCB Go Green comes in.
Their informal motto: Think globally, act locally.
Their formal motto: Together for a greener campus.
“BCB Go Green was started around six, seven years ago,” says Miksa, a senior and the outgoing chair of BCB Go Green, “to respond to behavioral patterns around campus that could be done more greenly.” The club took a two-year hiatus before Miksa restarted BCB Go Green in 2020, during the pandemic, to make the campus more sustainable.
Before BCB Go Green, sustainability around campus was not on the agenda of many students. The situation was rough and tumble. Trash was not separated. No one took care of the BCB garden. Plastic waste, especially from the cafeteria, overflowed from BCB bins. Lights were left on at chronic levels, everywhere: in the dorms, in the reading rooms, in the classrooms, the lecture hall, everywhere.
Then came BCB Go Green, bringing about a change in the way students think and act about sustainability.
Since then, BCB Go Green has mushroomed into a profound movement through which ideas and actions on sustainability around campus have been pounded, refined, and executed.
From organizing sustainable events, introducing sustainable practices around campus to hosting sustainability workshops, BCB Go Green has made a significant impact in raising awareness on sustainability issues.
A section of the BCB Garden
The road towards a more sustainable campus started with the Awareness Week campaign. During this campaign, BCB Go Green hosted podcasts to create awareness about eco-friendly practices around campus. The club initiated dustbin labeling to deal with the menace of unsorted trash and ran the sustainable household campaign, where households competed for the most “green” household prize. This campaign was very effective because almost every household won a prize, which consisted of a hodgepodge of eco-friendly perks. For example, households won an eco-friendly bag that could be used for groceries or food from the cafeteria. BGG also pushed the cafeteria to switch from using plastic bags for packaging to using biocompatible ones instead.
And these efforts didn’t stop there.
The club organized green field trips to the Volkspark to gain a sense of nature and reflect on the beauty that we all should protect. There was also the Neighborhood Days campaign where BGG coordinated clean-up exercises on campus and around the campus neighborhood. Then, the club relocated the BCB garden from the old library to K24.
Additionally, BGG has partnered with various clubs on campus in sustainability projects. For instance, one great partnership has been with the BCB Swap Shop providing a channel for “recycling” clothes and stuff that members of the community would have otherwise left piling in their rooms or the laundry rooms or thrown to waste.
These initiatives have not only made the campus greener, but also helped students understand the importance of sustainable practices.
Members of BCB Go Green on a green excursion.
Apart from campus-related initiatives, BCB Go Green has also taken an active role in promoting sustainability beyond the campus. Members of the club have taken part in climate demonstrations and awareness campaigns, both locally and globally. For example, they have supported the city-wide campaign called, “Berlin Climate Aid,” which brought together people from different backgrounds to raise climate awareness. Also, BCB Go Green hopes to partner with other campuses in the Open Society University Network on environmental dialogues and climate change advocacy and also to engage more immersively in global movements such as No Planet B and Fridays For Future.
As for exciting future projects, there are plenty.
“We plan to secure reusable cups made by ReCup, a German company that promotes the recycling of cups to avoid using single-use cups which are wasteful and harmful to the environment,” says Dorien Schoenmaker, a Economics Politics and Social Thought major and incoming BCB Go Green chair. The underlying logic for using reusable cups is that they are an excellent way to reduce waste on campus.
In addition, Dorien says, the club aims to promote greener separation of trash by introducing four trash bins in each household, namely general, plastic, paper, and Biomüll. Currently, student houses only have three trash bins, making trash separation difficult and unnecessarily complicated, leading to bad trash separation. However, by providing an additional bin, the club hopes to make trash separation easier and more effective.
For those eager to join BCB Go Green’s green efforts, you have plenty of ways: you can join the club as a member or you can join them in their activities with no additional commitment. Some unique activities they are involved in, include green yoga, which aims to connect practicing yoga to eco-friendly practices and holding monthly campus cleanup events, where participants will receive a small clean-up package consisting of biodegradable garbage bags and informational materials on separating trash and managing waste. This initiative is essential in creating awareness of waste management practices and encouraging students to adopt more sustainable lifestyles.
That we have a highly morbid climate is not a Monday morning new phenomenon. But that there are plenty of constraints which might make the climate catastrophe seem insurmountable is pretty alarming. Heaven forfend that sick Mother Earth is incurable.
College campuses are a perfect place of resistance to climate change, as they provide a platform for students to collaborate and make a positive impact on the environment.
In our campus, BCB Go Green understands that sustainability is not just about making the world a better place for future generations, but also about creating a better present. Their efforts are a testament to the fact that small actions can make a big difference. By starting locally, they are paving the way for a global movement towards a more sustainable future.