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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Activities & Organizations

What is red, white and green all over?

With recycling bins scattered over campus and reusable to-go containers in the dining halls, UH has clearly made an effort and succeeded to become an environmental friendly university.
According to The Princeton Review, UH is currently one on the “Nation’s Greenest Colleges” for the work that is being done in sustainability research.
“As an institution of higher education, we have a responsibility to teach and model for our students that it is important to be good citizens in the world in which we live so they have this mindset when they graduate,” said Emily Messa, chair of Sustainability Task Force.UH is one of many colleges to initiate trayless dining.
Trayless dining reduces the amount of food waste by 25 to 30 percent and reduces the water waste necessary to clean the trays after each use, according to the Green UH website.

UH is also adamant about its recycling program, and is recycling 35 percent of its waste while reaching for the goal of 80 percent, the Office of Sustainability said on its website.

“Recycling is most visible and most important to students on campus. When determining how we spend time and move toward campus progress, we see what students care about, and recycling is on student’s minds,” said Leah Wolfthal, program coordinator for Sustainability.

“We use AASHE (The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) as a guide and rating system. It gives universities indicators on sustainability topics such as move-in recycling. The guide is often a starting point.”

In addition to recycling, UH participates in RecyleMania, which is a national ten-week recycling challenge. Post-secondary schools are challenged to recycle the most waste as possible during this ten-week event, according to the Office of Sustainability website.

Residential students will be seeing changes in the move-out and move-in processes this academic year.

“We are in collaboration with student housing and residential life,” Wolfthal said.

“They will be stating again what they are passionate about and they will support residential life with sustainable choices, specifically focusing on a sustainable move-out.”

“Normally when students move-out, they thrown out their TV or clothes that they haven’t worn in a semester. We will be looking at Goodwill to help us out with a sort of reusable move-out,” Wolfthal said.

Green initiatives don’t just apply to residential students. Commuting has been a big problem with UH students for some time now. UH has been trying to make parking better by initiating benefits for more sustainable methods.

According to Wolfthal, students are encouraged to learn about a variety of commuting options at the “Green UH Commuter Fair” which will be next week.

“It’s an event held twice a year. We are tweaking it slightly this year to revamp the message we want to send to students. In the past, we have had students sign up for Q cards, the discount Metro fare cards and find out about the Hertz program,” Wolfthal said.

“This year, we are kind of hoping to get the message out to people and invite them to join a conversation.”

Additionally, motorcycles park on campus for free and more bike racks are currently being installed, according to the Office of Sustainability website.

The name change from Green UH to the Office of Sustainability, that occurred in late June, compliments the community-centered mode of operations that the department wishes to embody.

“We are undergoing big change, and trying to move away from one-sided messaging to moving into a conversation with students that they are passionate about. We are trying to connect with people,” Wolfthal said.

“I really believe that forcing anyone to do things is not sustainable in the long run. Rather, I’d have people choose to do something freely and on their own.”

Messa said she is proud of what the school has done.

“We believe we have created a living-learning laboratory for sustainability on campus through programs like RecycleMania, having recycling bins on campus, solar panels that can be integrated into the classroom learning, a community garden and partnerships with Urban Harvest – and the list goes on,” Messa said.

“We are proud these efforts have been recognized by The Princeton Review and others. We do this not for the recognition, but because we believe we have a responsibility to our students, our community and our planet.”

Additional reporting by Amanda Hilow.

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