Sustainability Committee Brings “Green Living Guy” as Earth Day Guest Speaker

Patricia Oprea

Since being founded at the end of November, the Undergraduate Student Government Association’s Sustainability Committee has taken full advantage of their existence, and last week was no exception.

With the work of co-chairs Josh Howard and Patricia Oprea, students were given the option to attend educational and entertaining events with a goal of raising environmental awareness.

On Monday, April 22 (Earth Day itself), the Committee invited the “Green Living Guy” to speak about issues facing our environment. Seth Leitman has worked on nine green living guides during his career so far, both as an author or editor.

He worked for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority as Project Manager for the Clean Fuel Bus Program. This funded over $100 million to the incremental cost of alternative fueled vehicle buses. In 2000, Leitman worked for the New York Power Authority, founding the NYPA/TH!NK Clean Commute Program which leased 100 electric vehicles in the metropolitan area.

His area of expertise is energy efficiency and the field of engineering. However, Leitman studied political science and communications in college, and received his master’s in public administration.

Leitman discussed how certain technologies and vehicles used can become more environmentally friendly. “More than half of the oil we use is imported,” he said. This means that its high cost is unavoidable, as Americans are dependent on other countries for this type of energy. The transportation to constantly bring oil across the world is not doing anything for the already high pollution rate in the environment either.

Then, of course, when gas is consumed by a car, more waste is being dispersed into the air. Electric cars seem to be Leitman’s favorite subject, as he raved about their hidden benefits. One of the most obvious benefits is that electric cars have no air pollution.

Leitman spoke of how much energy is wasted when people are not aware that their houses are under-insulated. On top of that, California and Connecticut have the most expensive energy costs. “It’s all economics,” he said. Surprisingly, Leitman also said that the number one place of pollutants is in your own house.

During a question and answer session, one student asks why environmentally friendly products and methods are so expensive if they are better. “Cheaper products are just bad for you,” Leitman said. If you want more quality and efficiency, one has to be willing to pay the price. Many people, especially in terms of food, prioritize quantity and cheap costs over quality. Leitman briefly discussed how genetically-modified foods are becoming a big issue.

After his presentation, Leitman left students with one tip: “when a storm is coming, go fill up the gas tank.” Prices are noticeably higher after a storm because many gas stations may be closed, so the one that is open will overcharge because there is only one place people can go.

Although the audience in Dodds for this event was small, their interaction was anything but minimal. As Leitman said, “If you can make a strong impact on only a few people, that is enough.”