Berry is known for the beauty of its campus. If you pull up any online review about campus visits, the beauty of campus is often the first attribute listed. With 27,000 acres and a historical reputation of such beauty, it’s hard not to be known for our scenic landscape and picture-perfect campus. For all its value to us as students and faculty, how can we appreciate our environment more? With seemingly endless possibilities for environmental consciousness on a campus our size, what efforts have we made to be environmentally sound? And is it enough?
The Office of Environmental Compliance and Sustainability (ECoS) is a department at Berry which monitors and ensures compliance with state and national environmental regulations. ECoS’ goals are to conserve natural resources, encourage renewable alternatives, promote responsible practices that ensure environmental health and protects the safety of students, faculty, staff and the local community. These are all goals which are worked toward through a hands-on work experience by students in the ECoS office.
Those are all wonderful ambitions, and to have an office specifically designated to achieving those goals is a wonderful start. However, it’s discouraging still to consider our wasteful habits and their negative impact on the world as a whole. In 2015, plastic waste alone accumulated 34.5 million tons of waste, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Walking into the Dining Hall on styrofoam day can feel like a kick in the gut, and we all know we’re guilty of leaving the room with the lights left on or so easily dumping our plastic into the trashcan instead of the recycling bins.
The campus itself has recently made conscious efforts. Krannert at one point made up one-third of the campus’ waste overall. However, in 10 years’ time, Krannert has reduced its waste accumulation and now only accounts for one-fifth of the campus’ waste. Berry is also a member of the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), pledging to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions 10 percent by 2020.
Setting goals to continue to improve our environmental impact is a great first step. However, practically, how are those goals being met? From a student’s stand-point, student-led environmental initiatives are prominent across campus.
Berry’s Green Team is a student organization whose mission is to educate the Berry community on what it means to be “green.”
“The overall goal is to make students and faculty aware of all of the ways that they can be more environmentally conscious,” Harleyh Merritt, sophomore Eco Representative said.
The Green Team sponsors programs which strive to implement environmental consciousness on campus through campus-wide programming. Some projects have included accessible recycling, stickers which serve as energy usage reminders and efforts to encourage composting, something which East Julia service cottage plans on implementing in the near future.
It can sometime feel a bit like an uphill battle for us students to ever feel like our actions have any significant impact on the environment. With such a wide-spread, global issue, any action you take can feel like a drop in the bucket. However, every action taken to be more environmentally conscious can help the planet.
A great resource is available on the ECoS website, which you can find through berry.edu. ECoS’ website lists recycling and eco-friendly lifestyle tips. These are efforts you can take individually as a student to make an effort to become more environmentally conscious. “We have also worked with S.A.V.E. on different events that have produced fairly large turnouts. Students seem interested and they want to help, but the problem at this point is making it easy for students,” Merritt said.
The Carrier’s editorial opinion represents the views of the senior members of the Campus Carrier and Viking Fusion news staff.