So You Think You’re Eco-Friendly Because You Recycle, Huh? | The American Word

American Word Logo
An American University student-run magazine since 1999


So You Think You’re Eco-Friendly Because You Recycle, Huh?

Think Again


By
Jessica Balerna | 5/13/14 3:29pm
| Updated 5/13/14 3:32pm

Don’t get me wrong, recycling is extremely important in preserving natural resources such as plastics, aluminum, and glass. But recycling isn’t even half the battle.

“In the face of climate change and the severe environmental degradation our generation faces, lifestyle choices, like recycling, being a vegetarian etc., can’t be seen as viable solutions,” said Dierdre Shelly, AU Eco-Sense President.

There’s much more that can and should be done to help the environment.

Luckily, AU makes it easy for you to be as green as you want. AU is one of the “greenest” universities in the country. In fact, it is ranked number 15 on the EPA’s Top 30 College and University list for obtaining its energy from renewable sources, such as wind and solar.

AU is also one of 20 schools on the Princeton Review’s Green Honor Roll, which only includes schools with the highest score in their green rating tallies.

But what does AU do to deserve these accolades? In 2012, AU signed D.C.’s College and University Sustainability Pledge, a voluntary pact to pursue sustainability measures related to energy use, green education and transportation.

Here’s what you need to know about the pledge:
· AU pledged to be carbon neutral by 2020, meaning it will sequester just as much carbon dioxide emissions as it produces.
· AU also pledged to send zero waste to landfills by 2020. More materials will have to be recycled, composted, or reused.
· Finally, AU promised that all new buildings will be at least LEED gold, and all renovated buildings must be at least LEED certified.

AU is making an effort, so you should too. Recycling isn’t enough. Environmental professors, students and staff have several suggestions for students hoping to be more eco-friendly.

Environmental Science professor Jesse Meiller encourages students to be “conscious consumers.” If you don’t really need that new pair of shoes, you shouldn’t buy them.

Move-out day is almost upon us and Helen Lee, the Zero Waste Coordinator from the Office of Sustainability, has advice. She requests students take a little extra time to go through their belongings at the end of the year.

“Students leave behind and throw away tons of usable clothes, unopened food and toiletries, and other household items,” said Lee.
Consider donating unopened food and consigning or selling unwanted clothes instead of throwing them away.

Combatting global warming needs to be a group effort. AU Eco-Sense President Deirdre Shelly recommends joining the AU Fossil Free Divestment Campaign.

“The only way that we can have any sort of meaningful impact is if we act together,” said Shelly.