By Vera ToulokhonovaÂ
Over spring break,Â my family and I traveled to spend a weekend in New York City.Â One of our expeditions included a visit to the Statue of Liberty and, naturally, to the large restroom located on EllisÂ Island.Â Â The first thing I noticed about this notably modern facility is the proliferation of green signs all over its walls. Â Each had a large, bold, green heading, which read âGreen Restroom.âÂ I was curious to see exactly what constitutes a restroom that prides itself on being âGreen.â
Â Each green sign included the following text:
As part of our GREEN-SPONSIBILITIES this restroom offers many features that are environmentally preferable:
While I agreed that many of the above featuresÂ are moreÂ protective of our natural resources, I was skeptical whether a few are really that “green.”Â Â
The automatically flushing toilets, for instance, reminded me of theÂ inefficient toilets in Ross Hall, at The George Washington University School ofÂ PublicÂ Health, where I go to school.Â TheseÂ toiletsÂ flush every five seconds in response to each and every slight movement of the user.Â Traditional, manual flush toiletsÂ eliminates this wastefulÂ use of water, since an individual is inclined to flush just once during her or his visit. Â Likewise, I amÂ also not sure how automaticÂ faucets are advantageous from a “green” perspective over manual ones.
Regardless, I was glad to see such a strong effort at this national historic landmark to raise awareness andÂ support environmental health.Â Upon seeing these noticeable signs, people from all over the country and the world, will be introduced to the ideas of minimizing water usage and recycling â efforts they can incorporate into their own daily routines.Â Consequently, these signs contribute to the overarchingÂ fieldÂ of public health by bringing the issue of environmental health to peopleâs attention. Â Furthermore, some of the “green” featuresÂ (e.g.,Â autoflush toilets, automatic faucets, and dryers) promote better hygiene by minimizing peopleâs contact with surfaces that may contain harmful germs.Â
While the individual contributionÂ of thisÂ restroom on Ellis Island toÂ environmental healthÂ is quite small, it may just inspire a trend of green restrooms and thus greener lifestyles.Â It has theÂ potential to lessen our usage of valuable resources such as electricity and water, and to minimize our exposure to harmful fumes created byÂ standard cleaners and disinfectants. Thus, I applaud this effort to promote âgreen sponsibilities.â
Vera Toulokhonova will be graduating in May from the George Washington University (GWU) with a BS in Public Health.Â She grew up in Ulan-Ude, Buryatia Republic (in Russia) and later Swathmore, PA.Â Vera isÂ taking a class on health and the environment which has piqued her interest in environmental health topics.Â This fall, sheÂ will be a first year medical school student at GWU.