During the sustainability office visit I was given insight into the efforts that go into keeping the Oklahoma State campus clean and functioning. I learned more about what we as students can do to contribute to a sustainable living environment. A major issue is the use and burning of fossil fuels. We need to survive off the ecosystem’s income, this being renewable energy, rather than its capital (fossil fuels). Items need to be produced from “cradle to cradle”, meaning that they can be taken apart and made into something new for other uses and that can eventually biodegrade; this approach is referred to as a circular economy. Something I was very surprised to hear was that there are over 200 courses offered on campus having to do with sustainability and about 10% of all research completed on campus deals with sustainability in one way or another.
When touring the office, the speaker informed us of some of the eco-friendly practices used on campus in attempt to conserve resources. For example, the bus system used for transportation to and from the university runs on compressed natural gas, which emits less pollution and makes less noise. There are also bike rentals available and parking garages located on the campus grounds. From on top of the buildings, rainwater samples are collected to later water plants with; food on these plants are picked and used by the chef at the Rancher’s Club in the Student Union. More natural food options are being offered within campus dining and even some vegan options in the North dining hall. Meal services are having tray-less buffets which promote less food waste; the person will be more likely to get just what they really want, as opposed to filling the whole tray and only eating half of it. We just see a big, pretty campus but it takes a very large crew behind the scenes to make it all happen.
I appreciate these efforts even more so now and will take these valuable lessons I’ve learned into my future career. It helped me to think about different types of sustainable elements I can incorporate into a space as a visual merchandiser. Many small adjustments can make a big difference when it comes to how we treat our environment: wind-powered electricity, natural lighting, bike racks nearby, and many other energy efficient features are all great steps towards going green in your office space or even in your own home. I for one could be far more conservative when it comes to my home life. I could do things like getting a recycling bin, and purchasing reusable shopping bags rather than getting plastic, I could do fewer, slightly bigger loads of laundry. That being said, my question to the class is,
In what ways can we as a community work together in order to compensate for the lack of infrastructure, and therefore, the inability to reach a level of complete sustainability?