UCA recently adopted an eco-friendly initiative that allows students to purchase reusable to-go containers at Christian Cafeteria. Not only will the go-green dining container initiative get rid of styrofoam containers, but I hope that it sparks a campus-wide shift toward eco-friendliness.
Although styrofoam boxes have been the go-to for to-go containers, styrofoam takes nearly 500 years to decompose in landfills. With the new go-green containers, not only will there be a decrease in undegradable products, but the university will decrease its carbon footprint on a small scale.
Like the styrofoam containers, plastic straws in the student center should be a thing of the past. A single-use plastic straw can take nearly 200 years to decompose, but will most likely end up in the stomachs of 71 percent of seabirds and 30 percent of marine turtles according to Rubicon Global’s website. Paper straws average only two cents per straw when bought in bulk, while straws made of plastic average five cents per straw. Starbucks previously announced that there will no longer be plastic straws in their stores by 2020, but in the meantime, Torreyson Library’s Starbucks could offer a small discount for students that bring their own metal, or any reusable material, straws.
Dorms should also offer incentives for students that recycle the collections of water bottles, Coca-Cola cans, and Walmart sacks in their dorm rooms. Maybe leniency on curfew, or a dorm pizza party could be the result of students recycling their trash. While some dorms provide students with the means torecycle easily, most dorms do not have recycling bins. Providing these bins would cut down on the litter that quickly fills dumpsters outside of residence halls.
There are a few restrooms, like in the HPER, that offer eco-friendly flushing which reduces water waste by using a certain amount of water depending on the waste that needs to be flushed. High traffic areas on campus could greatly reduce water waste if eco-friendly toilets were installed there as well. The Student Center, Torreyson Library, and the Brewer-Hegeman conference center are only a few of the buildings on campus that would be ideal locations for a decrease in water waste due to their consistently large number of visitors.
Many UCA graduates would attest to the fact that the university offers impressive merchandise. Free t-shirts, backpacks, pens, and buttons are constantly passed out to students, but what if go-green items were offered instead? Reusable water bottles, LED light bulbs, and spiral notebooks or composition books made from recycled material are just a few of the supplies that students could receive.
Zagster bike share, which arrived on campus in April of 2018, is an eco-friendly alternative to automobiles that the university has provided for students. Not only do the bikes reduce carbon dioxide emissions by cutting back on the use of gasoline, but the bikes have provided students with an environmentally-friendly alternative. UCA could provide students that use Uber and Lyft carpooling services with a discount code as a ‘thank you’ for reducing carbon dioxide emissions that harm the atmosphere.
It’s exciting to see UCA taking necessary steps to become a greener university, but I’m even more excited to see what the future of eco-friendliness on campus holds.