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KC Spotlight - Sustainablity

Sustainability Region IV-W Region IV-W
January 4, 2016 Ashley Buchman Arkansas State University Newport

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, “To pursue sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generations”. This mission is oriented to the environment in which we live. However, it also resonates with our charge as educators. Each day we strive to educate our students with the skills to go forth and make the world a better place for future generations.

I believe the Lorax from Dr. Seuss’ beloved tale was on to something when he said, "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, Nothing is going to get better.” 

Introducing sustainability at your institution can seem like an overwhelming task. Initially, it can appear you are up against years of practices that were not so environmentally friendly. In reality you are up against years of practices that were not in the best interest of the environment. You are not alone in your efforts to make your institution more environmentally friendly. There are many resources available to assist higher education institutions with implementing sustainability practices on their campuses. The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education www.aashe.org and Second Nature www.secondnature.org are two organizations geared toward informing higher education institutions about sustainability. The 2016 AASHE Annual Conference is October 9 - 12, 2016 in Baltimore, MD.

Additionally, it is important to remember sustainability should not be isolated within student affairs/services. Sustainability should be an effort embraced by all areas of the institution. Getting other divisions on campus involved with sustainability efforts will increase the chances of long-term success. Sustainability efforts can be as small as encouraging faculty, staff, and students to unplug their electronic devices during times campus is closed. Efforts can be as large as striving to become a Carbon Neutral Institution.  Other examples of sustainability efforts include using electronic communications instead of print materials, creating a bike friendly campus, hosting zero waste events, creating environmental sustainability committees to increase student involvement with sustainability, implementing campus-wide recycling programs, and so much more.

If you are looking for a way to engage in sustainability at the 2016 NASPA Annual Conference, I encourage you to consider participating in the Community Service Project with a sustainable food recovery effort called gleaning. For the latest information on what is happening in the NASPA Sustainability Knowledge Community, you can follow them on Twitter @NASPA_SKC and like them on Facebook at NASPA Sustainability KC.   For additional information or questions please feel free to contact me at [email protected].