Spring on the York College campus

Dedicated to Sustainability

Ashley Ardinger holds a poster with a painted image of a whale and the words Please Help.

It was the dire warnings coming out of the United Nations Climate Change Summit two years ago that opened senior Ashley Ardinger’s eyes to how serious the problem was. “You can’t unsee what we’re doing to the world,” she says. And because she can’t unsee it, she’s doing something about it. 

Ardinger founded Spartans for Sustainability when she was a sophomore. The club is dedicated to bringing environmental change to the school and to raise student awareness.

Last year, to raise awareness they worked with a sculpture class and created a jellyfish out of trash collected on campus. They’ve also worked with the school’s dining service to bring composting to campus and requested more water bottle refilling stations to reduce the use of plastic bottles. 

The club holds campus cleanup days, partners with other clubs on projects, and creates informational campaigns. “A huge problem is that people don’t know how to properly recycle or where they can recycle,” Ardinger says. 

It’s not every college sophomore that has the gusto to think she can have an impact on a huge issue like climate change. And it’s not every college that would empower a sophomore to make changes not just among its students, but within the institution itself. 

“The type of atmosphere we have here at York College has contributed greatly to me being able to empower others,” she says. “If I were at another campus, I don’t think I could do this.” 

Now that she has graduated, Ardinger hopes the club will continue making improvements to the school. She’d like to put her degree in Integrated Marketing Communications to use at a nonprofit and maybe one day start her own environmentally focused nonprofit. 

The experience of starting a new club and making a difference in her community has bolstered her confidence to keep fighting climate change. “The impact, I feel, has left me very excited for the future,” she says. “Since I know what I can do now and with the help of others, I know that I can accomplish something big.”