As a Resident Advisor on the sustainability committee of the residence halls at the University of Washington, I have tried to inform my residents about various ways to save and protect the environment.
Our Ecological Footprints
At the beginning of the school year, I made a bulletin board on my floor in the resident halls to help my residents realize just how wasteful one can be. I encouraged them to visit the website www.earthday.org/footprint/index.asp to calculate their own ecological footprints based on their lifestyles and share their results with everyone else by adding them to the chart on the bulletin board. As expected, many people where shocked by how wasteful their lifestyles were and by how wasteful Americans are in general. According to the website, the average ecological footprint in the U.S. is 24 acres per person while there exists only 4.5 biologically productive acres per person worldwide. After people have seen their results, I encouraged them to take the quiz again and answer the questions based on the extent to which they are willing to change their lifestyles in order to better the environment. For example, instead of answering that one eats meat at every meal of the day, one can change the answer to eating meat for only one meal a day if one is actually willing to make that change. It is surprising how much difference a small change in one’s lifestyle can change one’s ecological footprint. Along with the survey results, I also provided simple and easy suggestions for how my residents can lead more environmentally-friendly lives. This bulletin board was the first step to educating some college students about how they can protect the environment.
To carry out the idea of leading sustainable lives throughout the school-year, I helped to educate the residents of the residence halls on the composting program that our school has. Composting is the collection of food scraps and compostable food containers to be made into nutrient-rich compost that can be used for gardening. In many of the food places on campus, we have implemented composting programs where we have separate bins for composts, separate from the garbage and recycling. The compost we gather are sent to Cedar Grove Composting in Everett, Washington for a 90-day process that turns food scraps and yard waste into nutrient-rich compost. At the University of Washington, we actually buy back the compost to then use as fertilizers to build the beautiful landscape of our campus, as exemplified by the photo. Though the program has been in place for about 3 years, many students are still unaware of this program and are continuing to throw compostable materials into the garbage. That is why the members of the UW RA sustainability committee volunteered our time to make posters informing the students about what is garbage, what is recyclable and what is compostable. We also sat by the compost bins of various food places in the residence halls during the dinner and lunch rushes for a week to answer questions about the compost program. Our campus is very supportive of sustainability, even our eating utensils are made of corn so that they may be compostable as well, along with the compostable to-go containers, napkins, and cups. We are currently working on adding compost bins to every floor of every residence hall so that those who get their food to-go can still easily compost on their floor instead of throwing the compostable materials into the garbage for convenience.
Sustainable Holiday Program
The holiday season is always one of the most wasteful times of year due to all the wrapping and packaging materials. That is why the University of Washington Resident Advisor sustainability committee organized a Sustainable Holiday program to encourage college students to be more environmentally aware during this season. At our program, we provided lists of sustainable gift ideas and provided materials to make sustainable gifts. For example, we made wrapping paper out of old newspapers by decorating the newspapers with sponge stamps and paint. We also taught residents how to make creative and colorful holiday card envelopes by using advertisements in old magazines. This program was implemented to show people how various materials are reusable and that even the busy holiday season can be made into an environmentally-friendly one.
Though I may not have planned trees and collected garbage at local parks in the traditional way of helping to save the environment, I participated in projects that dramatically increased environmental awareness in college students and helped to save the environment in different and fun ways. I believe that educating the public about the problems of the environment and how they can help to protect it is a key step in encouraging people to actually take action. Environmental awareness and action are both necessary in order to sustain our planet.
· Date: December 20, 2007 · Views: 6799 · File size:72.9kb, 294.8kb · Dimensions: 1500 x 1125 ·