Green for the Greater Good
● By Jessie Monsivais
By: Jessie Monsivais Photos by: Rachel Benavides
On the Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi campus, there is a group of students who gather together each week with one goal in mind: creating a more sustainable campus and community through eco-friendly initiatives.
The Islander Green Team, a student-led organization, is made up of passionate students who find common ground in putting forth efforts all revolving around the betterment of our environment.
“We believe in doing what we can to take care of our Earth, and its resources, by spreading awareness on environmental issues and sharing knowledge for solutions,” says Devika Tijerina, President of Islander Green Team.
The group’s activism, research, partnerships, and service projects have led to sustainable campus changes and more accessible information on being environmentally conscious.
“We believe by working on projects with the community, we can help create a more sustainable future for Corpus and the surrounding areas. We offer compost education, a place for people to bring their food scraps to be composted, free compost for gardening, and garden space for students to grow their fruits, vegetables, and herbs if they don’t have one,” says Tijerina.
Islander Green Team conducts waste audits around campus to see how items can be recycled better or composted, and they educate others about proper recycling. The Green Team hosts their beach clean-up events at a different beach every semester, and have started marsh cleanups by the bridge next to campus every month. Plus, in addition to the work they are constantly doing on campus, they also span their reach elsewhere in the community.
At the Early Childhood Development Center, they have taught children the importance of recycling and compost, and have helped them create a garden they can nurture and grow on their own! Education truly is one of the key components to spreading awareness in regard to our planet Earth, and the team is currently researching the topic of debris on various local waterfronts.
“It’s important the trash that has found its way to the beach and marshes on campus doesn’t get swept back into the surrounding waters. The debris from our beach cleans get categorized and logged so we can track what percentage of debris is plastic, cigarette butts, glass, etc. We are sampling eight different sites along the Oso to see how wastewater treatment runoff will be affecting the Oso Bay,” Tijerina says.
In the past, Islander Green Team has teamed up with the World Youth Sailing Competition and the Texas Branch of The American Society of Microbiologists to make their events more sustainable by not using plastic, helping with proper waste disposal, composting food waste, and educating the people.
Last Fall, the Green Team spoke about leading a sustainable life at the Corpus Christi Food & Wine Festival. This year, they educated students at the Coastal Bend Regional Science Fair about water quality sampling, and gave a tour of the eco-friendly projects on campus. They participate in Earth Day Bay Day every year, and this year they’ve received invitations to visit elementary, middle, and high schools in the Coastal Bend area to educate students on the topic.
Islander Green Team members are the leaders for a greener and more sustainable life in the Coastal Bend area. “We believe if we can help the community start building more sustainable habits, those will assimilate to the surrounding areas and transfer with them to wherever they go in the world,” says Tijerina. “By this we are creating a green legacy that we can be proud of.”