By Kristina Rogge
We live in a culture where promoting environmentally conscious choices are one of the driving factors in many businesses and lifestyle choices. As individuals, we all need to become stewards of the environment or perish away with it.
Humans play a major role in the changes of earth’s climate, and the catastrophic problems created by climate change. America is the second largest contributor for carbon dioxide in the world, but accounts for only 4.4% of the world’s population. A simple way for Americans to start reducing their impact is through teaching students about the environment, and allowing students to live and act sustainably. By learning how to take care of the environment, students can also learn how to better take care of themselves; saving money and saving the planet can go hand in hand.
The green building certification program, Earning a Learning Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), is a common program used worldwide. Many colleges are using LEED to install solar panels, passive lighting, recycled furniture, renewed plumbing, etc in on-campus housing. The certification to LEED can be expensive, but it is an important step in proving that a college is serious about the environment. Catawba College has many solar panels, and has done quite a lot of work putting in sustainable building accessories.
Catawba College has a great Environment and Sustainability program, ranked one of the best in the nation. The Catawba Environmental Stewards Program is a group of individuals that host a lot of events and projects as well as generating ideas for the college to continue the #SustainableCatawba status. The Environment and Sustainability program teaches environmental educational classes, and offers curricula where students can harness their passion and interest in the environment. The program can encourage students to take action, both in and out of college, to do their part to save the environment.
A significant detriment to the environment today are motorized vehicles. According to the Environmental Protection Agency(EPA), transportation is responsible for 27% of all greenhouse emissions in the United States. There are many college students who cannot afford, or do not own their own transportation. Catawba College adopted a program a few years ago for students to be able to rent bicycles for free, and having buses that transport students into town, or around the college is another great system that colleges can adopt to show sustainable living practices.
Another detriment to the environment today is food waste. Overall, Americans produce large amounts of food and solid waste, therefore, establishing a recycling and composting program is a great way to make a campus sustainable. A college that is serious about sustainability, like Catawba College, will have a recycling and composting program. Currently, Catawba has several recycling bins in every building. The recycling is given to the Salisbury Recycling center where it is sorted and distributed. In regards to composting, the cafeterias would mainly be responsible for sorting the food. The collecting and selling the composting shudl go to the farms to use the food waste for biofuel cells and gardens. Composting is the easiest sustainable practice any individual can adopt and use.
Living sustainably is a choice and it starts with the individual. By creating more sustainable environments to encourage the younger generations to develop a passion for their environment and change the future; having schools and colleges start the process is a key for a positive way forward.