The official blog of the University of Arkansas Office for Sustainability. The OFS develops and supports projects that work towards achieving zero-waste and carbon neutrality goals. OFS enables students, staff and faculty to find their means to develop a sustainable campus.
We are currently searching for someone to be our new Sustainability Program Assistant. This position supports all aspects of the Sustainability Office’s day-to-day operations. From events, to communications & outreach, to administrative needs, this person will work closely with students involved in office programs and will play a key role in making the University of Arkansas an environmentally responsible leader in our community.
Develops and implements new programs that reach diverse audiences of students, faculty, and staff on campus.
Contributes, refines, and implements innovative ideas that help make the University of Arkansas a sustainability leader.
Organizes outstanding campus sustainability events and supporting event logistics
Promote opportunities within the sustainability office to the campus at tabling events and student orientations.
Engages in, and sometimes facilitates, strategic planning discussions about office growth, strengthening, and assessment.
Serves as an enthusiastic resource for student, faculty, and staff collaborators.
Updates website and supporting efforts to develop new website structure and content.
Manages communication platforms such as the blog and weekly newsletter announcement.
Editing and reviewing documents for project plans
Implements effective systems for managing office administrative tasks including income/expense tracking, receipt management, reimbursements, and more.
Manages professional inquiries received over the phone and via email.
Supports communication and administrative tasks as needed.
Is a positive, solution-oriented, supportive, and collaborative team member as a member of the Sustainability Office.
Microsoft Office Suite
The hours of work are from 9 am – 4 pm, Monday through Friday at the Office for Sustainability located on 238 N. Harmon Dr. It pays $13 an hour with the opportunity to be converted into a salary. This position will be open until filled.
Please email a resume and cover letter to the Director of Sustainability, Eric Boles at email@example.com interested!
Our campus has been invaded by a crafty and destructive enemy. Invasive plant species, such as bush honeysuckle, Japanese honeysuckle, and Chinese privet have taken root in our natural zones, crowding out native species and threatening the indigenous biota.
Since these plants have no natural predators in their new environments, they are able to grow much faster than their native neighbors. Left unchecked, these invasive species can overrun an area, destroying the biodiversity and harming native animals – including pollinators – that rely on the native ecosystem plants.
This summer, the Office for Sustainability is launching a campaign against these invaders of our beautiful campus. The Oak Ridge Trail, running from Harmon to Garland Avenue, has been selected as the premier battleground. However, removing invasive species is no easy task, with plants often boasting deep roots and even poisonous leaves. To tackle these pernicious plants, the OFS is employing the help of some unconventional specialists.
Greedy Goats, a local business based in Washington County, has developed an ingenious lawn care model employing goats to do what goats do best: EAT.
As their website explains, “Goats browse. That means they like to eat leaves–especially from unwanted non-native invasive plant species like Bush Honeysuckle, English Ivy, Multiflora Rose, Privet, Japanese Honeysuckle, Bradford Pears, Climbing Euonymus, Poison Ivy, Blackberry, and Black Locust. They just love these invasive plants!” Once the leaves are eaten off the plants, it will be much easier for a wave of humans to later clear and uproot the rest of the underbrush.
Goats are “the original Brush Hog”, but instead of requiring fossil fuels to run, goats use the invasive species themselves for fuel. Greedy Goats has their herd for hire, bringing these hungry landscapers around the county to help fight back unruly growths and combat invasive species. You may have seen the herd at work munching at Wilson Park or guest appearances at Tri Cycle Farms and at the Mount Sequoyah Center on Rural Friendship Day!
Students communing with the Greedy Goats on Oak Ridge
Using goats to aid in invasive removal is additionally beneficial to the native ecosystem in that the goat hooves help aerate the soil while their droppings act as fertilizer for the native plants to recolonize the area.
Greedy Goats will be in the area removing much of the green vegetation of our invasive plants Tue-Fri, May 22-25, 10am-4pm.
Stop by the Goat Zone this week to visit the goats and learn about the invasive removal initiative
Join the OFS June 2nd for a volunteer day to uproot the invaders and return the Oak Ridge Trail to its natural state! Sign Up on Give Pulse.
Busy that day? Don’t worry. The OFS and partner organizations frequently host work days to remove invasives in targeted areas. These events rely heavily on volunteers.
During finals week, some priorities fly out the window. It’s a vital time when school comes first and late night study sessions turn into all-nighters.
However, you can still live a sustainable lifestyle on two hours of sleep and eight cups of coffee.
Read on to see how.
Turn-off the Electronics
You might enjoy studying with ESPN or Netflix streaming and a favorite new jam blaring on the stereo, but these are both a distraction and wasting electricity. Do yourself – and the earth – a favor and log off to study distraction free!
Save the Notecards
Save paper by creating notecards online. There are many free websites to create and even share notecards! Save paper, money, and time by finding and making notecards online. You can even team up with classmates to make shared digital sets.
Take a Bike Ride
Take a study break and ride the Razorback Regional Greenway anywhere from Dickson Street to Crystal Bridges. The fresh air and warm weather will clear your head while giving your car and the environment a break.
Eat for Sustainable Success
When studying for exams, cooking is out of the question. Most people turn to ordering pizza, buying a bag of chips, or reheating Ramen Noodles. Instead, choose an apple or carrots and hummus. They’re not only healthier (and will keep you going without the crash) but they have smaller carbon footprints and use less packaging so less paper and plastic will go in the landfill.
BYOM (Bring Your Own Mug)
Everyone needs a little extra caffeine to pull that all-nighter to finish the last paper or study just a little more for chemistry. Try bringing a travel mug from home. Travel mugs hold more and costs less, which means you can keep your coffee stream steady on a smaller dime. All of our on-campus coffee shops will give you a discount for using your own mug. This also applies to water bottles. Bring your own bottle and stay hydrated on campus for free.
Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
The 45 page review that is soon to be covering 87% of your dorm room floor is recyclable. After the final, throw the travesty in the recycling bin, or, better yet, pass it along to friend who has the class next semester.
Conserve energy. It takes twice as many muscles to frown than it does to smile! Research also shows a positive attitude helps make you more productive.
So stay positive, relax, and good luck! You’re almost there!
Executive Director of the UofA Resiliency Center, Marty Matlock was announced as the 2018 Borlaug CAST Communication award recipient by the Council of Agricultural Science and Technology on April 24th, 2018. A professor of Ecological Engineering in the Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department, a board-certified environmental engineer in sustainable design, and the founder of BlueinGreen, Dr. Matlock continues to lead the research frontier of agricultural sustainability.
To read the full article outlining the CAST organization and Dr. Matlock’s most recent achievement, click here.
The Office for Sustainability has again teamed up with our campus community to bring the University of Arkansas an week of events to celebrate our community and our planet!
The week is designed as a series of events leading up to the celebration of Earth Day on April 22. Established in 1970, Earth Day is an international event celebrated in 192 countries each year to demonstrate support for environmental protection and love for the planet Earth.
From poisoning and injuring marine life to disrupting human hormones, from littering our beaches and landscapes to clogging our waste streams and landfills, the exponential growth of plastics is now threatening the survival of our planet.
In response, Earth Day 2018 will focus on fundamentally changing human attitude and behavior about plastics and catalyzing a significant reduction in plastic pollution.
At the U of A, Earth Week is a week of events, learning opportunities, and service projects that cater to people of all ages. In the words of Eric Boles, director of the Office for Sustainability, “Earth Week is the perfect opportunity to celebrate the progress we’ve made while educating our community about the challenges ahead.”
Day By Day Events
Monday the 16th
Earth Week will kick off Monday, April 16 with free watermelon and information at the Union Mall from 11 am to 2 pm..
After that, join the RIC from 2-4 at the Multicultural Center in the Union to make DIY reusable shopping bags to serve as a plastic alternative.
Monday evening, join the Sierra Club for a nature hike. Meet at the Harmon Garage at 5 pm. The hike will last til 7 pm.
Wednesday, the Net Impact RSO is hosting a Trail Cleanup.
These cleanups are a necessary part of keeping our community clean and ecologically healthy. Volunteers can meet the crew at the Union Fountain at 3 pm.
Thursday the 19th
Thursday, the Cycling Club is leading a group bike ride on the Razorback Greenway. Want to meet new people, get some exercise, and enjoy the fantastic biking infrastructure of Fayetteville? Meet the club with your bike at Chipotle on Dickson at 1:30 pm. Don’t have a bike? Rent one from UREC.
That evening, join the Young Dems for an Environmental Talk in WCOB 202 at 6pm.
Friday the 20th
On Friday, the U of A campus will celebrate the culmination of Earth Week with the wildly popular Earth Day Block Party on the Union Mall from 11 am to 2 pm! This event has been a success year after year as the community, campus organizations, and local businesses come together to share a common interest in sustainability. Great activities are planned, with plenty of food, live music, more watermelon, good people, and great conversations. If that’s not enough, there will also be some Earth Day themed prizes given away throughout the event.
Friday also will feature an Earth Day Speaker at 1 pm at Shollmier Lecture Hall. After the speaker, head to Vol Walker for a poster reception where sustainability students will showcase their Capstone projects. Stop by to learn how the U of A students are tackling sustainability.
We at the OFS are thrilled to celebrate another Earth Week, and invite you to join us in any or all of this week’s activities.
Up until about a year ago, the sight of dandelions coming up in my garden made me want to scream. Their spiky green leaves and yellow flowers seemed to mock me, saying “We are weeds. We have invaded your garden and we are never never going away.” And then one day, as I was walking through the growing-beds of Tri Cycle Farms, the head farmer, Don Bennett, pointed out a dandelion and asked me, “What do you see there?”
My answer was simple. I frowned and bitterly remarked, “The scourge of all gardeners.”
Don laughed at me and responded, “You, like so many Americans, have been deceived. What you see here is one of natures most beneficial plants. Every part of it is edible, it has medicinal qualities, and it is good for the other plants it grows around.” Dandelions are heroes.
I was shocked. After all, dandelions were weeds right? But as I wrote in a previous post, many things we call weeds are beneficial to both people and gardens. I began to research into dandelions and quickly found out they were no exception. The more I learned about them the more excited I became. Dandelions are so cool that I’m considering making t-shirts.
4 Ways that Dandelions are Awesome
1. Eat Me
Every part of a flowered dandelion is edible. The flowers can be used on salads for added color, the young leaves are great raw and are also salad material. The more mature leaves make a nutritious greens dish, and the root can be skinned and eaten like a turnip. Not to mention the fact that you can also make tea, coffee, and a pesto spread with the plant. A major bonus? Dandelions are dang nutritious. They are packed with vitamins A, B, C, and D, as well as minerals, such as iron, potassium, and zinc.
2. Medical Marvel
Dandelions are also often considered to have medicinal qualities. Studies on animals show that dandelion may help normalize blood sugar levels and lower total cholesterol. It is also a well documented appetite stimulant. Consumption of this weed has even been linked to improved digestion.
3. Garden Guru
It also turns out that instead of digging up all these tenacious sprouts from your garden, you may want to encourage them to grow. Dandelions have deep roots (pictured right) – which is what makes them so hard to remove – but this also leads to many benefits for the soil. The deep roots break up densely packed soils allowing for more water and air flow, which is healthy for soil ecosystems. These roots also bring up nutrients to the surface, benefiting plants like tomatoes which have shallower roots. Even the shoots you do pull up can be useful to your garden. The leaves of the dandelions are nutrient rich and can make great compost or mulch for your lawn and garden.
4. Pollinator Pals
Dandelions are major attractions of pollinators and lady bugs. They flower frequently and are therefore a regular source of food to bees, butterflies, and moths. This is great because 1. anything that helps bees is good for our earth, 2. more pollinators brings more biodiversity, which is a major indicator of habitat health, and 3. the pollinators will also pollinate the other plants you are growing, like watermelons! Who doesn’t want more watermelons?
AREN’T DANDELIONS AMAZING? If you are interested in buying a shirt, leave a comment below!
With the new year setting sail into February, it is time for a reminder. It is time to minimize and downsize. Time to take a lesson in the art of living with less. Clear out your closet, declutter your workspace, and find balance in dereliction.
It is time to become aware of the industries we support through our dollar, especially the ones we advertise on our bodies.
Let’s talk clothes:
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, The U.S. apparel industry is a staggering $250 billion business with the average American family spending $1,800 on clothes, annually. An entire year’s worth of clothes you might only wear once, might never get around to exchanging for a different size, might stay forever on your hanger with a price tag still attached, all disguised as the latest in trending fashion. Thetruth is most of the money we spend on clothes is not based on need but on desire, and desire typically finds itself drowning in a landfill somewhere between a dirty diaper and a plastic Sprite bottle. And this happens more often than you think: every year the average US citizen dumps 82 pounds of textile into the landfills – totaling a mass of 136 million tons for the entire country. In 2017, 3 million of those tons were generated by Arkansas alone.
The term “fast fashion” has flooded the consumer markets. A contemporary term for the rate by which trends pass throughout the apparel industry, “fast fashion” is the materialism equivalent to fast food. It is created on a global assembly line with extensive health and environmental repercussions but without all the dead chickens. In order to expedite and inflate the success of the business, big apparel companies have outsourced all of their production. More and more, we see this ever-changing megacorp find new ways to meet the increased rate of production – a demand they created – at the cost of the livelihood of others. For example, the typical garment worker in Bangladesh works for two dollars a day in unsafe, chemically infused environments with limited power to unionize. They then go home to their villages located in the crest of the cotton fields where toxic insecticide is used to ensure the product’s value. These insecticides have been revealed to show a dramatic increase in cancers, mental illness, and birth defects consisting of mental retardation and physical handicaps. Fast fashion is crippling our land, our developing countries, and general well-being.
Here’s how you can help combat the industry:
In order to be more sustainable in our personal lives, we can follow Sarah Laarovic’s “buyerarchy of needs”. First, we need to ask ourselves the question: “Can I use what I already have?” If the answer is no, then can borrowing or swapping with a friend solve the dilemma? If the answer to both of these questions remains a negative, you’re next best option lies in the eclectic depths of vintage felicity.
Below are some tips and benefits of taking a plunge into the world of second-hand clothing.
When you shop “thoughtfully”, your decision to buy becomes less about money and more about whether or not you’re going to wear the item in your everyday wardrobe. This means you have the opportunity to double the lifetime of a shirt. When you thrift shop, you are cutting the environmental impacts of those items in HALF. Less planting and plucking, less insecticide, and less pollution. Even better, it allows you to cultivate a unique style while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Imagine it similar to adoption: you get to give an old pair of pants the hope of a new home. It may have a small hole in the corner and smells of your grandmother’s perfume, but it has SEEN things. It has lived a life beyond your own. It has character.
Check out local spaces such as Potter’s House, Fayetteville Funky Yard Sale, Cheap Thrills, Goodwill, Plato’s Closet, and Daisy Exchange for a refreshing selection of the newly old and a chance to find your “forever fashion”.
Although “shopping thoughtfully” places less of a focus on money, it doesn’t hurt that the prices come at a more than affordable price. In most thrift stores like GoodWill or Savers, you will find clothing cost categorized by cut and style. For example: all jackets will be $4, all pants will be $3, and so on.
If you aren’t looking to spend the cash, you can check out the U of A’s Boss Hog program. This program provides professional business attire for men and women alike. Fill out a request form or schedule an appointment with firstname.lastname@example.org to take a look at the campus clothes closet the next time you find yourself going in for an interview.
CREATE A STAPLE PIECE
Try your best to find clothes that can satisfy the bulk of your outfits. Whether it is a pair of black boots, your favorite belt, or a colorful cardigan, these will be items you can wear with almost anything you throw on. This way you can cut the $1,800 clothing budget I mentioned earlier in half, if not more!
DON’T STOP AT CLOTHES
Did you just move into your first apartment? Are you looking for a book for class? Thrift stores can outfit more than your closet, they can furnish an entire living space or even a personal library collection. Currently, my house is sporting a red suede sofa in near perfect condition that my roommate and I hauled off the side of the road.
On the flip side of the coin, you can retire your clothes and give them the chance to find a new home. As they say, one wo(man)’s trash is another wo(man)’s treasure. GoodWill offers a great tip on how to decide when and what you should donate should the time come. Start with all of your hangers facing away from you, then every time you take an item out of your closet put it back facing the opposite direction. At the end of the year, you will have a simplistic way of knowing what gets worn and what doesn’t.
You may find yourself wondering just where your old clothes go once they have left the confines of your closet and have re-entered the world of retail. As they sort through their items, anything not “sell-able” will be sent to material recycling. So instead of mucking up a landfill, they could be utilized in the creation of a new carpet or car upholstery.
Don’t take part in the global assembly line. Don’t perpetuate the harmful conditions imposed on our Earth and our fellow communities around the world. YOU are the consumer, YOU have the power to change our industries. Show them what you want by voting with your dollar.
You’re a young, eco-friendly, socially savvy college kid.
You care about the planet. You don’t want the polar bears to drown or the penguins to sweat, so you turn off the lights when you leave a room and you recycle.
You care about society. You’re tired of all the bigotry in the world, so use your respectable social media presence to promote love and equality.
You care about your health and animals, so you drink almond milk and describe yourself as a “flexitarian”.
You care about authenticity. You wear joggers or leggings to class ’cause you know it’s not what’s on the outside, but the heart that counts, and the Man’s not gonna convince you otherwise.
Bottom line: you’re pretty cool. But did you know you could be even cooler?
Pictured: Person who is almost as cool as you.
The experts in sustainability recognize it is impossible to have a healthy society in a disconnected community. Community connectivity is necessary for a thing called “resilience”, which is basically a measurement of a community’s ability to cope with change and trouble. Strong communities, where the members know each other and work to meet each others needs, are much more likely to survive and thrive when they encounter things like climate change driven disasters and social upsets. A great way to personally foster this kind of community is by volunteering.
Volunteering not only allows you to give back to your community, but also connects you to members of the community you likely wouldn’t meet otherwise, creating an interconnectivity that is a major part of community health. How cool is that?
Volunteering isn’t rocket science, but the benefits are out of this world.
For this reason, the Center for Community Engagement (CCE) was established in 2011 to “serves as a catalyst between the campus and the community, creating ‘a door’ for local nonprofits to engage students as volunteers in their programs.” The CCE’s mission is to “empower students through service to change the world” by “cultivating students’ strengths”, teaching them to identify societal needs and “empowering them to create solutions to those needs through service.”
This guy volunteers. He also has fantastic style.
Over the past 7 years, the CCE has helped thousands of students connect with the NWA community through volunteering. They help students, as well as groups such as Greek chapters and RSOs, track the hours they volunteer through their GivePulse page.
Students especially passionate about volunteer work and nonprofits can take their game a step up and join the Volunteer Action Center (VAC). The VAC board consists of 43 students and functions similarly to a nonprofit organization’s board of directors. These students focus on engaging other students in volunteering and manage the UofA’s 4 signature volunteer programs.
This viking was photographed celebrating after he learned of the 4 signature programs.
The 4 signature programs are divided into two categories: Mentoring and Food.
The Mentoring programs focus on empowering young people in an educational setting.
Dream B.I.G.(Believing in Girls) is a student-led program where U of A students serve as mentors to 6-7th grade girls from a partnership school in Arkansas. The college volunteers lead monthly education sessions with girls and host an overnight empowerment camp in the spring. Dream B.I.G. “strives to promote self-esteem, goal-setting, team work, pursuit of higher education, and motivation to succeed and overcome challenges.” Apply to be a Dream B.I.G. mentor here.
VAC Literacy Program partners UofA volunteers with a student at a local elementary school. The UofA student meets with the elementary student for an establishes a 1.5 hour weekly meeting time where they do curriculum-based activities with a goal of “create[ing] personal and intellectual growth for both college-aged and elementary students through meaningful relationships, stimulating curriculum, and an alternative learning experience.” Apply to be a mentor here.
The Food programs focus on assisting the food insecure of our community while eliminating food waste.
The Jane B. Gearhart Full Circle Food Pantry (FCP) was founded in 2011 by UofA students who became aware of their peers’ struggles with hunger and wanted to help. Serving only 12 people in its first month, FPC now serves average of 200 students, staff, faculty and their households each week. FPC strives to not only provide meals, “but provide balanced nutrition in a dignified, friendly environment to any UARK community member.” Volunteers commit to two hours weekly and can apply at this link.
Pictured: Food Waste
Razorback Food Recovery, a particular favorite of the OFS, was created in 2014 by students who wanted to eliminate both food waste and hunger in our community. 15.3% of Washington Country residents are food insecure. According to the VAC, “the numbers increase dramatically on campus with 38% of undergraduate students and 48% of graduate students not knowing where their next meal is coming from.” To date RFR has recovered over 123,000 pounds of food from being thrown away and redistributed it back into our campus and community. Find out more about volunteering with RFR here.
These 4 signature programs are an excellent way to get involved, but they are far from the only volunteer opportunities available.
The CCE is connected to over 200 non-profits in NWA so students have hundreds of volunteer opportunities on and off campus to choose from. Everyone can find an opportunity that works for them.
Even this guy found a volunteering opportunity right for him.
As an added bonus, the VAC has an incentive program, Get Your 10. Once you logs 10 hours of service through the UofA GivePulse, you become a VAC member and receive a perks card which provides discounts at participating NWA businesses. As you gain more volunteer hours (10, 25, 50, 75, 100, and 200+) you are eligible for additional perks. Yes, this means local businesses will reward you for playing with cats.
Cats are an important part of our community.
It is hard to find anything cooler than volunteering. Volunteering connects you to your community and grows you as a person, all while helping to make the world a better place. Live your best life by volunteering today.
The first week of classes is here, leaving us students with the task of reestablishing routine. As you start integrating yourself into your new schedule (and begin the search for that elusive timetable that will allow you to study, eat, sleep, and have fun) don’t forget to follow these 10 steps to help reduce your personal carbon footprint and better our world.
10 Steps to Student Sustainability
1. Buy Used Textbooks
This one is a no-brainer. Not only are new textbooks really, really expensive, buying them is also a waste of paper and energy. Buying a used textbook (or renting one) is recycling. Reusing textbooks—whether by buying them used, renting them, or borrowing one from a friend—helps the planet by keeping the resources to make a new book (trees, water, energy) untouched. It also saves you a lot of money, as used books are invariably cheaper than their new counterparts. Most bookstores have a used selection, and many of them will even buy back your book at the end of the semester so it can be used again!
2. Take Notes Electronically
One of the biggest categories of waste for college students is paper. An easy way to cut down on paper waste is to stop using paper altogether. We live in the technology age where taking notes electronically is not only possible, but easy. Most professors post their notes online, and converting those notes to an editable format takes only a few seconds. On top of that, there are tons of apps—such as Evernote, Simplenote, and Google Keep—that make taking and keeping track of notes electronically a breeze.
If you are one of those people who prefers the feel of pen and paper over a keyboard, you can cut down on paper waste by recycling the paper you use, and bonus points for using recycled paper in the first place.
To boycott the deceptive bottled water industry and save yourself some serious cash in the meantime, start bringing a reusable water bottle to class. Campus is covered in water fountains and bottle re-fill stations where you can top off on agua for absolutely free.
Secondly, did you know that “every year Americans drink more than 100 billion cups of coffee. Of these, 14.4 billion are served in disposable paper cups, enough to wrap the Earth 55 times if placed end to end”? You can help decrease this statistic by bringing your own reusable thermos to campus. Not only will you be keeping hundreds of cups out of the landfill each year, but many places (including Starbucks) will give you a discount when you provide your own container.
Recycling is an enormously important way to reduce waste, and on campus it is easy to do. Every building is equipped with recycling receptacles for paper, cans, and plastics. We at the University of Arkansas take recycling seriously and are always looking for ways to expand our on-campus recycling program. This year we were proud to begin accepting all plastics #1-7 for recycling in our “cans and bottles” bins. So whether its your backpack full of old notes, six empty cans of Red Bull or plastic packaging, make sure to dump it in the corresponding bin and keep it out of the landfill.
5. Shorten Your Showers
While sometimes there’s nothing more you want after a long day than to stand in the shower for twenty minutes, reducing your time under the spray is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint. Every minute spent with the shower on uses half a gallon of water, plus energy to heat and transport the water. Cutting down your showers by just one minute every day can save over 180 gallons of water annually.
For the more dedicated of you, try saving water by turning off the flow while you shave. You can also cut down on the energy each shower uses by turning down the temperature – or even taking them cold. The really hardcore among you can save even more water by attempting the “Navy Shower“, where you turn on the water only long enough to get wet and then rinse off.
Bonus sustainability points if you hang your clothes up to dry
7. Watch What You Eat
Food waste is one of the most prolific and pointless areas of waste in the developed world. The statistics surrounding food waste are truly startling. It is estimated that 30-40% of all food produced in the US is never consumed. This is not only an enormous waste of resources (think of all that goes in to growing, harvesting, packaging, and shipping the food just for it to be thrown away), but it is also an enormous source of GHGs. Recent studies show that edible food is the second largest component of our landfills. Yes, that means that we as a country throw away more food than almost anything else—and this rotting food is also thought to be the largest source of GHG production in landfills.
The best and most effective way that you can make a difference in the fight against food waste is to reduce your own personal waste. This looks like joining our University’s Project Clean Plate—a pledge to “clean your plate” by eating everything you put on your plate when you visit the dining hall. You can also reducing food waste by learning the secret powers of your refrigerator.
Another large contributor to student carbon footprints comes from the vehicles they drive. Cutting down on your personal emissions—and avoiding the misery of on-campus parking—is as simple as finding a new way to school. The simplest alternative to driving is walking, but the U of A is also equipped with a free, reliable bus system that makes getting to campus easy. Click here to see the schedule and routes of the buses.
Another way to commute is by bike. Biking not only reduces your personal carbon footprint, saves you gas money, and ups your “cool-factor”—it also keeps you in shape. How’s that for a win-win-win-win situation? The city of Fayetteville and University of Arkansas both pride themselves on being bike friendly, boasting an extensive trail system as well as free bike repair stations throughout the campus and city. Click these links to see a map of all bike parking on campus and here to read more about bikes on campus.
One of the most best ways to live responsibly is to volunteer your time in support of local sustainable initiatives.
While making responsible changes in your own life is great, the sustainability of the world—and our community—depends on everyone else making sustainable choices as well. A major way to encourage sustainable behavior in our community (and country) is to vote for sustainable policies. We in the United States have been given a voice through our ability to vote. We must speak out in favor of policies that steward our resources in a way that benefits our planet and people, as well as our economy.
Fee and Dividend works by placing a tax, or “fee”, on fossil fuels at the point of extraction. This inflates the price of fossil fuels at the very beginning of the supply chain in a way that carries down throughout the market. This makes the use of fossil fuels more expensive (and more realistic) at every step, allowing alternative fuels to become more competitive. This fee would start out small and increase steadily over the next years with the intention of weaning our nation off our poisonous addiction. So far, this sounds like just another Carbon Tax.
What makes a Fee and Dividend policy unique, however, is what is done with the money generated by the tax.
CCL had REMI conduct a study on what impact a Fee and Dividend policy could have on our country. The results were extremely encouraging, predicting a reduction in CO2 emissions to 52% below 1990 levels in 20 years and an economic stimulus that adds 2.8 million jobs to the economy. Not to mention that the reduction in air pollution caused by switching away from fossil fuels would prevent over 230,000 premature deaths. Sounds like a bright future, doesn’t it?
These numbers truly do make a Fee and Dividend policy seem like a one step solution to Climate Change. But, you may ask, what if the study is wrong? What if the policy does not work as predicted and more measures are needed to combat our country’s dependence on fossil fuels?
While changes in policy seldom work as smoothly as predicted, this is no reason to not attempt them at all. If we want a livable world, a change in our energy policy has to be made; inaction simply is not an option.
The Fee and Dividend policy may not be perfect, but it is a step in the right direction, and a step we desperately need to make.
Make your voice heard and help build the Political Will necessary to make Climate Change policy a reality. Together we can make the bright future we hope for into reality.