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Sustainability Week pushes for responsibility

staff writer

Published: Thursday, November 10, 2011

Updated: Friday, November 11, 2011 09:11

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STUDENTS WATCHED A DOCUMENTARY on the benefits of wind energy Wednesday as part of Sustainability Week. The week ends with a recycling event Saturday after the USU vs. San Jose State football game. DELAYNE LOCKE photo

The effects of sustainability and snow pack on ski conditions, live music and directions on planting organic herb gardens were just some of the highlights of Sustainability Week, which ends Saturday.

The themed week is sponsored by Students for Sustainability with the purpose of educating and encouraging students to live more sustainable lifestyles, according to Samuel Abbott, director of Students for Sustainability.

The week's events were kicked off with free bike-taxi rides for students and a performance by the band Buffalo at the Quadside Cafe on Monday. Tuesday included presentations on herb planting, tap water vs. bottled water and food preservation techniques by the fountains, near the TSC Patio.

"We planted herb gardens for window sills — you don't have to buy all your food from the grocery store, there are simple options to grow your own," Abbott said. "This eliminates thousands of miles of shipping, it alleviates some chemical pesticides put into our soils and tastes so much better than what you buy at the grocery store."

Air quality and its impact on snow pack, which affects ski conditions, was discussed Wednesday by Maura Olivos, coordinator for sustainability at Alta Ski Area. Following her talk, the documentary "Wind Uprising" was shown and then business Professor Ed Stafford spoke about the benefits of using alternative energy sources.

"Sustainability is something that most people value even if they don't know it," Abbott said. "It is a focused lifestyle where people seek to balance the needs of the environment with the needs of the economy (and also) with the needs of the society. It's a shift in thinking from outdated consumerism and inequitable trading and environmental degradation, to a more responsible thinking."

The purpose of having one week solely focused on sustainability is to help students understand what sustainability is and what the university is doing to become more sustainable — to bring sustainability issues to the foreground, said Brooke Evans, vice president for ASUSU Diversity.

"Its not a boring topic," said Kate Auman, Sustainability Council marketing and public relations specialist. "It's showing students how fun it is and how doing little things can go such a long way."

One focus of Sustainability Week is to publicize the Blue Goes Green Fee and Grant Program, as well as the Student Office of Sustainability — two recently implemented programs, Auman said.

The grant program is funded through the fee by the same name — a 25-cents-per-credit-hour fee, with a maximum of $3 per semester, per student — which students voted for during 2010 ASUSU elections.

"The Blue Goes Green Fee is a student-driven and student-led campaign that gives every student on the Logan campus the opportunity to apply for a grant and implement a sustainability project," according to the grant program application.

Another focus of sustainability week is to help students understand how they can make a difference through increasing sustainability, Auman said.

"Utah State students have the potential to do amazing things," Abbott said.

Sustainable efforts include supporting the local vendors, going to the Ellen Eccles Theatre to see a show, purchasing produce — buying local — at the Cache Valley Gardeners' Market, as well as riding your bike, walking more and take responsibility for your waste and consumption practices, he said.

"Students can do research," Auman said. "They can evaluate their life and control what they can."

An easy way students can increase sustainability is to be mindful of how much food they pile onto their plate when eating at buffets such as the Marketplace, Auman said.

"On-campus dining throws away dumpsters and dumpsters of food that isn't eaten," she said. "And that's wasteful. Being mindful of what you're doing is important."

Evans said simple things like bringing reusable water bottles from home and refilling them with local tap water make a difference.

"Bringing your own bags to the grocery store, turn your lights off when you leave a room, turn off the faucet when you're brushing your teeth, put on a sweatshirt instead of turning the heat on, unplug appliances when you're not using them," she said. "It's not hard, it just takes breaking the habit."

USU Student Body President Erik Mikkelsen said, "I think sustainability is a rapidly growing field all over the U.S. and the world. There is so much more of an influence of sustainability in everything that we do. Everything we do is just going to grow more and more."

Events will continue through the rest of the week with a Q-and-A session on the Blue Goes Green Grant Program, featuring the new Sustainability Office Coordinator Mark Blaiser, followed by a game day recycling project that will take place Saturday, immediately after the USU vs. San Jose State football game.  

 

– allie.jeppson3@gmail.com

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