If you could do a few simple things to help further social justice and reduce global environmental destruction, would you? If you're like most CU students, sustainability is something you support, and even if you are not an activist for the cause, the university and your student government (CUSG) are making it easier to live your campus life more sustainably.
In the end, it all depends on you to choose the sustainable options.
In the spring of 2008, CU students set a goal of zero waste by 2015, meaning 90 percent of our waste would be recycled or composted instead of being sent to the landfill in Erie. This goal applies to the University Memorial Center and the Rec Center, two buildings that are supported by student fees (instead of tuition) and overseen by CUSG.
However, we are not quite there yet. As of 2014, students diverted only 51 percent from the landfill, versus Colorado State University's average of 56 percent. But several projects are in the works to help us improve.
A recent waste study found that in the UMC, some of the biggest materials we're sending to landfill are: food, 33 percent; plastic film, like candy wrappers and trash bags, 12 percent; and compostable paper, like paper towels and napkins, 10 percent. In the UMC, compost bins are provided in the first floor dining area, as well as in all bathrooms in the building. Let's use them.
You can help increase our diversion rate by composting your food scraps in bathroom compost bins, and making sure that your compostable to-go containers at the Grill are put in the compost bin. Better yet, get a plate if you're eating in the building. Reusable plates eliminate waste production in the first place, and life cycle analyses have shown that reusable plates produce less greenhouse gases and cost less money overall than their disposable counterparts.
If you're planning or attending an event in the UMC for the summer or fall semester, CUSG is working on legislation that will provide you reusable materials, instead of disposable, for no extra cost.
It may not seem that important, but recycling and composting correctly, along with choosing to reuse, can have a huge positive impact on ecosystems, both locally and globally.
Sustainability means much, much more than just recycling and sorting your waste correctly. If you'd like to get involved with campus projects and see the many sides of sustainability, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Matthew Ribarich is the CUSG Director of Sustainability.