The first endeavors of the University’s newly formed Sustainability Task Force came to fruition in a suitable way last week: a celebration.
Green Day, held Friday and slated to take place annually, is one of many attempts to increase UH sustainability – a movement we hope to see continue.
The event featured a campuswide clean-up and also marked the beginning of a new recycling effort, in which the task force will monitor a number of new recycling bins, and position them in areas that receive the most traffic. The bins are designed to make recycling easy by featuring separate compartments for cans, bottles and paper.
UH will also begin following the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment and Rating System outlined by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. The system allows participating schools to track progress in areas such as "Green Cleaning Services" and "Waste Minimization," and compare their sustainability status to that of others.
These efforts by the University indicate it is taking sustainability seriously and working hard to ensure UH evolves into a more environmentally friendly University.
We applaud the school for its efforts, but agree with Emily Messa, executive director of Business Services, that students play an important role in the success of the initiative.
"Students, as the largest group on campus, are the most important part of our grassroots effort to promote sustainability," Messa told The Daily Cougar.
Students should take a more proactive role in recycling and keeping campus clean, and they shouldn’t necessarily need new recycling bins to do it.
Officials said the new bins would be moved to where they are most used. Adding much-needed bins to Robertson Stadium is crucial, but students should also be willing to occasionally carry items a little further to reach a bin rather than just tossing them in the trash. Bins don’t need to be everywhere, but they do need to be in areas where recyclable waste is abundant, such as the stadium and restaurants around campus.
Ultimately, becoming a more sustainable institution will take an effort from students and the University – each operates on different levels and each must do its part.
UH must continue constructing new buildings to LEED certification, which ensures they meet specific guidelines, such as crafting the building from material that can be reused, and continue undertaking larger sustainability projects that students can’t accomplish on their own.
With cooperation from students and the University, we hope UH will make large strides toward becoming a more sustainable campus.