I’m reminded at this time of year just how many in our campus community carry the responsibility for sustainable operations of our campus. Ours is a mission-driven institution, and our mission is for an education centered around environmental and sustainability solutions. Folks come to work here and come to school here because we want to be a part of that kind of learning community, one that measures our impact on students, at least in part, by our impact on the planet.
Of course, we rely on our returning students to promote sustainability norms, and for many it’s second nature; they’re recycling in residence halls, using refillable bottles at campus water stations, composting food waste, supporting community food efforts, and more. Our Campus Ambassadors — returning students who support New Student Orientation — this year peppered campus buildings with simple sustainability messages: “lights off,” “carpool to town,” “buy local,” etc.. Our Student Life team and their student workers are quite keen on getting off on the green foot with all our incoming students, through our Nova wilderness orientation, on-campus orientation, and in Residence Life programming.
And our employees are all doing their part in small (and sometimes huge) ways as part of their daily work. Just yesterday, we got a campus message from the maintenance department regarding a paper reducti0n effort. Vehicle request forms have been reduced from 3-page carbon copies to single page requests — a third of the paper to get the same job done. Staff in our maintenance department didn’t wait to bring the request system online (that will come), but recognized a waste and moved to reduce it now.
This seemingly small effort demonstrates a common approach to our work, namely, sustainability is everyone’s job. As a sustainability office, we aim to inform folks of various options, do some of the background research for purchases and projects, and engage students in the process. But we know that the sustainability work of the college happens all over campus, in offices and classrooms and residence halls in hundreds of small actions performed every day.