Living on a campus as beautiful as Mount Holyoke really makes one wonder: Why can't the rest of the world be as green and picturesque as South Hadley? Mount Holyoke students and staff alike enjoy going on long walks around the lakes and attempt to capture the beauty of our aging autumn trees in their art.
It's a wonderful world out here in the clean, quaint town of South Hadley MA. Or so we think...
Toxics Action Center has rated South Hadley's Landfill one of the 12 most polluted threats in New England.
Every year, this organization publishes the Dirty Dozen Awards where the landfills that have failed to acknowledge their pollution problems are put on the list. These landfills cause serious risk to the environment as well as the community's well-being and the list is meant to provoke action from the government and community.
Although South Hadley's landfill, operated by Advanced Disposal Services, is a mere three miles from the college, there is little knowledge about this issue. According to WWLP-22News, there have been over 75 odor complaints and the operators have been fined multiple times for environmental violations. In addition, there have been protests against a landfill expansion because the sound, smell and dust is already beginning to impact the lives of South Hadley's residents.
The lack of involvement from the Mount Holyoke community comes as a great surprise since the college prides itself teaching students to become aware of social and environmental issues and encourages participation in community-based activism. In fact, students are encouraged to take Community-Based Learning (CBL) classes that allow students to connect their academic work to projects enabling social change. Additionally, there are several environmental organizations on campus from student-run committees such as Eco-Reps and Environmental Action Coalition to national educational movements like Think Outside the Bottle.
This shows that there is scope for dialogue and action towards a less polluted landfill in South Hadley. The students of Mount Holyoke need an awakening like the Dirty Dozen Awards to help them realize that there is a lot of work to be done in our college community before we can go out into the real world and make a difference.