SLU and sustainability: An annual checkup of our efforts


John Schuler / Editor-in-Chief

John Schuler / Editor-in-Chief

I want to start by saying that SLU is actually doing a pretty great job at trying to rework its practices to be more sustainable. Recent pushes, such as SGA putting in new water fountains meant to curtail plastic bottle usage and the recycle mania that has taken SLU by storm, have had great success. In fact, Princeton Review included SLU in its 332 “green” colleges for 2014. So clearly SLU is on a good path and can only get better. However, there are a few things that we could do better, especially with regards to actions taken by the student body.

First of all, I think that almost everyone can agree there is rampant overplanting on campus. We have a beautiful campus, which I am sure is part of the reason students choose to come to SLU, but I do not think that they will begrudge us evergreens in the West Pine planters year-round instead of changing them to palm trees in the summer. I will never understand the constant changing of plants, just to get blooming flowers all the time. Could we please just plant some perennials that bloom at different points in the year and let them thrive? In my opinion, there are numerous options to limit this expenditure and waste. All that labor is a huge price to pay for some aesthetics on campus. It’s a waste of water, energy and fossil fuel to plant the beds so often.

Second, focusing more on student actions rather than administrative, there are numerous things I would like to mention. First of all, we are terrible at recycling. St. Louis has made it relatively easy to recycle by using single-stream recycling, but we cannot seem to keep trash, and especially food, out of the recycling bins. There is a fairly low threshold for food contamination in recycling, so please stop throwing your empty Panda Express containers in the recycling because that wastes all the recycling in the bin. We need to fill them with recycling instead of trash. It may not be the easiest way to dispose of trash and recycling, but it is important. As a student body we need to take the steps to try to be more conscious of recycling as much as we can, even when it may not be convenient.

More often than not, students want to take cars to a restaurant or a store instead of utilizing the public transportation system or bicycles. The individualist movement of cars in the US is a huge contributor of greenhouse gases, so SLU students need to stand up and behave more responsibly, biking and using public transportation as much as possible, even though those are way more difficult than simply driving yourself and some friends to your destination.

The last thing I want to focus on is the water bottle situation on campus. Despite SGA’s considerable efforts to move towards reusable water bottles, many people use plastic disposable water bottles instead of reusable hard plastic ones. Honestly, I will never understand this. It is more environmentally conscious and fiscally responsible to invest in a Nalgene and fill it up at the numerous water fountains around campus.  The bookstore has hundreds available for purchase, so there really is not an excuse. I know that the plastic bottles may have soda or something else before using them as water bottles, so good job re-using the bottles, but those disposable bottles are really only good for a limited number of uses, whereas I have used the same Nalgene bottle for the past seven years.

SLU is on a wonderful path in terms of its sustainability movements. The administration has made it a priority, and it is beginning to pay off. Unfortunately, the student body has not followed suit to the same extent. We all need to work better to build towards a more sustainable future.

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