Preview: How does a campus of nearly 5,000 impact the environment?

Category:  News
Friday, September 27th, 2019 at 11:50 AM
Preview: How does a campus of nearly 5,000 impact the environment? by Shayma Musa
Protesters sit during the youth climate strike in Erie on Sept. 20. | Photo: Rachel Wolford

The signs they carried were made of cardboard, plywood, cloth or some combination of the materials.

They were small, large, covered in paint, covered in marker and even incorporated memes.

Some were funny: “Winter is not coming.”

Some were sarcastic: “We skipped our lessons to teach you one.”

And some were direct: “You are killing your mother.”

This is how over 200 Erie citizens protested on Sept. 20 during the global climate strike. According to Vox, over 2,500 scheduled strike events took place in over 163 countries.

“Caring for our planet is one thing, but assuring that our government cares for climate action is another,” said Alyson Munson, co-leader of the Erie youth climate strike.

“It is important to get involved with events like the climate strike to show our government that we are here and that we care, and that we won’t tolerate anyone with political power who chooses to ignore this issue. Working to combat climate change is not just the job of a group who cares, it is everyone’s job.”

This environmental consciousness, some would argue, has caused a societal shift: Starbucks eliminated the use of plastic straws from their shops, retail mogul Wal-Mart pledged to decrease the impact of their plastic bags by offering consumers the option of a reusable bag and the increase in awareness of the positive impacts of reusable water bottles (a 2012 EcoFocus study found that 59 percent of Americans used some type of reusable beverage container), has led to the creation of an industry valued at nearly $8 million, according to a 2018 Fact MR study.

With increased recognition of the human impact on the negative trajectory of climate change, The Spectator proposed the following question: how does a university of nearly 5,000 students impact the environment?

To answer this query, the question was broken down into four parts: food waste, recycling, sustainability and the future. Through a Spectator exclusive series over the remainder of this semester, these four parts will explore how a concentrated population of college students, and the buildings they live and learn in, impact the local Edinboro climate.

Edinboro University currently operates under a green initiative titled, “Sustainable EU,” which lists a nine-pronged approach to university sustainability. These nine issues are the following: food service vegetable garden; installation of electric hand dryers to decrease paper towel use; LED replacement program in campus buildings; development of academic programing related to sustainability; increased efficacy in McComb Fieldhouse; development of environmental sustainability committee and standards; water bottle refill stations; policy to police and decrease carbon footprint; and hiring of an external consultant for grounds assessment and recommendations.

Other projects that the university has undertaken in keeping with the initiative are the following:

— Geothermal heating units in the Highlands residence halls, Cooper Hall, and the Jeremy D. Brown buildings.
— Motion sensor lighting in all classrooms to decrease unnecessary energy.
— Recycling options in all buildings.

Check in next issue for the first part of our series, in which we will examine the numbers on food waste for our campus, along with solutions being put in place to resolve any issues.

Tags: news, environment

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