Earth Day gives universities chance to look at options for sustainability
April 22, 2016
This Friday is Earth Day, the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in the 1970s. Earth Day is a time to honor our wonderful planet and reflect on how we are treating it. While Earth Day is sadly only one day, UW-River Falls has been participating in Earth Week, while some have participated in Earth Month. While we reflect on our planet and what we as individuals can do to treat it well, we should also look at how the university is working to be sustainable and eco-friendly.
As pinnacles of knowledge, it’s no surprise that most universities today claim to value and support sustainability on their campuses. UWRF is certainly one of those: the Mann Valley farm has an extensive composting program. The Recyclemania program in Residence Halls tries to get students excited about minimizing waste. The University Center for a number of years was the most sustainable building in the area, if not the nation. This year, for the second year in a row, UWRF was given a silver rating on the Sustainability Tracking Assessment and Rating System report.
However, there are always areas where any cam- pus can improve itself to lower its communal carbon footprint. For UWRF, some of those things could be: offering compostable rather than plastic eating utensils at dining services is a simple start. Another could be banning water bottles everywhere on campus, and offering more class options to focus on how and why reducing energy usage should be implemented. Bigger scale things must happen too, such as divesting the UWRF Foundation from the fossil fuel industry, and reinvesting in renewable energy.
Students should also take part in these subjects through whatever means they can afford, whether that be spreading the word on the importance of sustainability and environmental awareness; joining or forming organizations which focus on these matters; talking with campus government about these issues; or just staying informed on the subject.
So while UWRF is on the right track when it comes to sustainability, we encourage those who have the ability to make a difference to never stop asking the question of what more can be done. Meanwhile, students should do what their schedules allow, but at least make sure to be educated when it comes to the important subject of environmental awareness. Earth Day, Week or Month should not be the only time to celebrate the Earth and to take everyday steps to help the environment.