Sustainability committee strives to enhance recycling on campus

Katie Hill

Katie HillReporter

The Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability Committee is aiming to improve the sustainability on campus one step at a time.

This year, the committee created a strategic plan to organize and outline its efforts. The plan includes facilities and energy, teaching, research and service, communication, activism and activities, and recycling, transportation and food services.

“We have some catching up to do, but we are moving in the right direction,” said Matt James, Landscape Architecture assistant professor and chair of the ESSC. “I think we are right on par with other institutions and their equivalent committees.”

The committee has been expanding their knowledge on sustainability by getting involved and looking to similar programs at other universities.

“One landmark thing that happened recently is we became a member of a national organization related to sustainability: The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE),” James said.

South Dakota was the last state that did not have a member in the organization.

Upcoming agenda items for the committee include reviewing the strategic plan, breaking the meeting down to initiatives being worked on, participation in the AASHE, recycling, and a communication campaign.

“My job as chair is to advise and make recommendations to the President and Faculty Senate,” James said. “I do a lot of administrative work, and organizing and scheduling meetings.”

The committee has used precedents from other institutions and universities with sustainability programs.

“We are trying to implement environmental sustainability because of the cultural shift in how we view the environment,” James said. “Our campus is really a small community and we have a big footprint. We need to be socially responsible.”

The ESSC has been collaborating with University Relations to brand the idea of a sustainable campus.

The campaign is in its early stages, but the committee and University Relations hope to develop and discuss the idea in detail this spring.

“A big piece of the puzzle is a dedicated website,” James said. “The campaign is one of the committee’s goals this year.”

Another thing the committee is trying to do this year is to become a participant of Recyclemania, a recycling competition to see which college or university can collect the largest amount of recyclables per capita.

“Recyclemania is a student-led program. It has two different divisions: competition and benchmark,” said Michael Rauenhorst, SA Senator and ESSC student representative. “We are one of the only two South Dakota colleges that does not currently compete. Frankly, it sucks.”

The committee hopes to get SDSU involved in the program as a benchmark competitor, if not campus-wide. The benchmark division is less formal and participating institutions do not compete for ranking or winning.

“Recyclemania has the potential to be a catalyst for participation,” James said.

Since recycling is part of the committee’s strategic plan, they are hoping to implement a coordinated recycling system.

“This committee is where change on campus happens,” James said.

The Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability Committee deals with a broad spectrum of topics and issues. Basically anything about being green or sustainable falls under this committee.

“I think for the twenty-first century we are far behind. There is a change coming that will bring us to modern times, but it can’t just be one person or one committee8212;it’s a cooperation,” said Kayla Miller, SDSU Sierra Club president. “I encourage students to get involved if they are invested.”

#1.1782257:2142362978.png:Recycle-2-Mackenzie-Clayton.png:Recycling is a growing phenomenon on campus.:Collegian Photo by Mackenzie Clayton