U places value on sustainability

Several departments are working toward making the University more sustainable.

Programs and researchers throughout many facets of the University are working toward making the University into a more environmentally sound institution. The Ecosystem Science and Sustainability Initiative and University Dining Services are two groups that are visibly stepping up their roles in environmental sustainability on campus. UDS has implemented a pilot organic compost program in tandem with departments from the St. Paul campus. The initiative is designed to decrease the amount of waste produced each year by UDS and transform the organic waste into usable compost for the University. The program positions workers at trash locations in each dining facility that will collect the organic material on diners’ trays to be used to create organic compost instead of allowing everything to go to waste. UDS also participated in a national recycling contest early this year, where it placed 39th overall.

The Ecosystem Science and Sustainability Initiative researches socioeconomic and long-term sustainability in our community. Last year, the ESSI created the minor in sustainability studies which is designed to integrate environmental education across colleges and majors. The ESSI is funded by the University; however, budget restraints limit its reach throughout campus.

Because of the University’s immense size, difficulties in recycling, composting and providing sustainable, local-grown products to campus are expected. However, our administration needs to place environmental sustainability as a priority by providing adequate funding to create an organized effort throughout University departments. In order to move forward, departments need to form a cohesive module of research, and work together to find solutions and implement action. Cohesiveness and collaboration are vital to effectively lessen the environmental impact of our large community.