by JILLEEN BARRETT & JESSICA McKENZIE, Contributor & Staff Writer
The Mother Nature Club is Manhattan College’s newest organization for students interested in sustainability. Current junior Meya Hayes decided to start the club this year after an inspirational Environmental Politics class taught by Professor Pamela Chasek. She learned the benefits of sustainability and how it could give students a healthier experience at Manhattan College. Hayes hopes that if more people are inspired by the club’s mission, more students will want to major or minor in environmental studies.
“I wanted to do something that would last,” she said.
It became Hayes’s mission to educate her peers on the way environmental issues specifically affect women. The group is founded and run by a board consisting of women who share a common goal to influence sustainability using the female voice.
According to Chasek, society standardizes environmental issues into two groups: issues that typically concern men and issues that typically concern women. Men tend to think of these issues as something to repair, such as environmental engineering. But Chasek offers a different perspective.
“The environment is a health issue. But who are the ones who think of it that way? Women,” she said.
Some of the problems relating to climate change impact women worse than men. Chasek said that one of these issues is that reproductive health can be put at risk by eating fish because of their high concentration of mercury, which can lead to birth defects.
While environmental issues affect human beings on a global scale, pollution is right within our neighborhood. In the Bronx, there are food distribution trucks for the entire New York City area that linger at Hunts Point Market. Due to the air pollution and chemical exposure to pregnant women and young children, asthma rates are much higher in that neighborhood compared to others around the U.S.
Additionally, the growth hormones used on cows negatively impact those who drink their milk, which affect both children with and without dairy allergies.
The Green Club was the prominent environmental organization on campus, and its main focus was on sustainable agriculture, urban farming, and food education. Since the founder of the club graduated, new environmental issues have become more of a concern. The Mother Nature club is trying to address those concerns in a more progressive way.
The Mother Nature club is working to expand their mission outside of our neighborhood. The club made a trip to the Climate Rally on Sept. 20, but Hayes doesn’t want their outings to end there. She would love to start projects, go on excursions, and have guest lecturers speak on campus. She’s also been brainstorming ways that the Mother Nature Club can collaborate with the Ethical Treatment of Animals Club, such as trips to an animal sanctuary.
“A lot of pollution issues fall on women, who have to deal with the effects on their own bodies as well as their children,” Chasek said.
Although women’s health in relation to the environment is the main focus of the group, the Mother Nature Club invites anyone to join. Meetings take place on Wednesdays in Miguel Hall.