As the population grows, so does the need for basic resources. Food, energy, housing – these are just a few of them.
And college sustainability organizations from all across the country are learning how to conserve these resources by bringing modern conservation methods to college campuses.
Sustainability initiatives are taking shape in the form of alternative transportation, organic recycling, solar energy and more. Here’s a look at those initiatives and more from some of the top college sustainability organizations in the country.
WSSI Working Toward a Sustainable Tomorrow
For these initiatives to be truly successful, a lot of innovation has to take place. That’s not an issue at Arizona State University, which earlier this year was named the most innovative school for the second straight year by U.S. News & World Report.
A credit to this is the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives (WSSI), a program in the Global Institute of Sustainability at ASU that develops solutions to global economic, environmental and social sustainability challenges. The university has more than 400 experts who work with businesses, communities, governments and nonprofits to solve the world’s most urgent sustainability challenges, including:
- Economic growth and food security.
- Greenhouse gas emissions reduction.
- Waste and resource management.
- Urban development.
In February, the fourth annual Sustainability Solutions Festival will take place at venues throughout the greater Phoenix area. The festival is a collaboration among the WSSI, The Sustainability Consortium and the GreenBiz Group. The two-week festival will explore sustainability from a local and global perspective.
Sustainability Fest Raising Awareness on Campus and Beyond
As part of its Earth Day festivities four years ago, the University of Houston created Sustainability Fest.
To educate and engage the entire community about the latest developments in sustainability.
Attendees of the event – which three years ago was moved to the fall because there really aren’t any sustainability initiatives during that time – get to experience five zones. These zones embrace five major aspects of sustainability:
- The natural environment.
- Sustainable transportation.
- The built environment and economy.
- Health and wellness.
Melissa Halstead, sustainability coordinator at the University of Houston, said people feel overwhelmed about sustainability because they feel like it’s really only one component.
“People don’t realize the interconnectedness there is between your daily lifestyle routine and how that encompasses and impacts the environment, the economy and society in general. The reason we have those zones is to really touch upon like, ‘Hey, there’s all these different outlets pertaining to what you’re eating, how you purchase your groceries or how long you run your water for.’ It all ties back to different ways or behaviors of sustainability.”
The fest itself gets internal and external exhibitors. People from the student center, LGBTQ Resource Center, architects and even NASA highlight what sustainability efforts they’re involved with and what’s happening on campus and the Houston community.
“People really enjoy sharing their information and are really passionate about sustainability,” Halstead said. “It’s nice to see other entities get involved.”
Food Recovery Network Donating to Those in Need
One of the biggest contributors to waste in America is food. The University of Maryland, College Park is hoping to change that with its Food Recovery Network.
With 198 chapters in 44 states, FRN is the largest student movement against food waste and hunger in the country. It began in 2011 when University of Maryland students Ben Simon, Mia Zavalij and Cam Pascual noticed good food from the dining halls being thrown out at the end of the night.
By the end of the school year, FRN and the University of Maryland had recovered 30,000 meals and distributed them to DC-area partner agencies.
The rest is history.
The following year, the second FRN chapter was founded at Brown University. The two schools collaborated with two other campus food recovery programs at the University of California, Berkeley and Pomona College.
Today, FRN has donated more than 1.5 million pounds of food.
Are you involved in a campus sustainability organization or know of any top student organizations making a difference in sustainability? Let us know in the comments section below. Budget Dumpster is always looking for opportunities to spotlight organizations making a difference in the communities we serve, much like BrainFeeders on the campus of Syracuse University.