Thursday, December 24, 2009
This isn't really anything new but it is certainly exciting. The Office of Campus Sustainability participates every year in the Experiential Learning program. In the past we have worked with Eric Crighton's first year environmental issues class. Each year these students help conduct recycling surveys on campus that ultimately end up being used to improve the campus recycling system.
This year we have been working with Renate Sander-Regier, the prof for the third year natural resource management class. The concept is simple - the students of the course have to assess the natural resources of the campus and make recommendations about how to use them all sustainably.
Please allow this brief interjection. I like the ELS program because it does 3 things. First, students get to do some real work and learn some practical skills, not that theoretical stuff that sometimes leaves you feeling empty sometimes. Two, a community group gets the benefit of some much needed work / info / help... whatever is needed. Three, we can use the recommendations from these reports to improve the campus.
Now I have been cooped up in my house for the last 3 weeks marking papers and making comments, and all I have to say is... wow! I have to say a lot of this stuff is gold! So I have decided that for the next couple of posts I am going to reveal some of the awesome campus sustainability ideas that the students generated. Stay tuned.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
As you may have seen from the picture above, I am trying something new this year, winter cycling. Now I am not a rampant winter cyclist; in point of fact I have never done it before. And there is a good chance that I won’t even make it a quarter of the way through this winter. But I want to try.
I am not actually going to talk about winter cycling actually, i just thought it would be nice to share this picture. All day i was actually thinking about what i would call this picture. If I had to title the above picture I would call it “Nice try winter” or “Bikers 1, Winter 0”. But I digress, this post is about making easier to do something more environmentally friendly.
I don’t think that you need much more of an example beyond the above picture. I am trying out winter cycling and what i need is clean roads and accessible bike racks. Otherwise, I won’t be able to keep this up much longer.
In the of Sustainability world we talk about barriers. When we want people to change behaviours we find that the most effective way is to remove the barriers to good behaviour. For example, if i want to recycle and there aren’t any bins close to me, i might not recycle as much as i would like to. If the university can get those bins closer to me, than the chances increase that i am going to recycle.
I guess i don’t have to tell you what the barrier is here. If we want to change habits, we will have to start with our own hearts and minds. So there are two things that you can do here.
1- If you have a problem, report it! If a toilet is leaking or a garbage bin is full, or the floor is slippery, report it. The University has a call center that deals with these things and we need all the eyes we can get.
2- Demand better. We want to rise to meet your expectations. That is our raison d’être, that is what we are paid to do. I am going to call the sustainable transportation manager for the university and he will be more than happy to help me out.
Monday, December 7, 2009
Two years ago the University faced a stark reality... the students didn't think that the campus was sustainable. Actually, if you want to really get down to the nitty gritty, the students perceived that the Univerrsity had a low level of commitment to the environment.