While the university has made great progress towards being environmentally responsible, there is still more that the campus can and should do. "Earth" by bnpositive thru Flickr via Creative Commons
Recently, a climate report was released by the UN suggesting that drastic changes to the global production of greenhouse gases are necessary to prevent global temperatures from rising so much that the environment is irreparably damaged.
UMBC has made significant strides toward sustainability in recent years. Between 2007 and 2017, there has been an 18 percent decrease in emissions and the purchase of 30 percent renewable energy, and there is hope for our campus to become greener still. The students and the administration should all be doing what they can to help move the school toward more sustainability.
Global Studies major and president of the Environmental Task Force Elizabeth Eakes said, “The new Ozzi containers in D-Hall are a great step toward sustainability on campus.”
She continued, “The fact that students can reuse a container instead of using styrofoam is very positive, and it looks like students are taking advantage of that. Hopefully, that concept of reusable containers comes to Commons as well.”
Eakes also noted the school’s commitment to update their Climate Action Plan. The Climate Action plan, last revised in 2010, is “a comprehensive plan to achieve climate neutrality as soon as possible,” according to the overview within the document. The plan also promises tangible actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while the comprehensive steps are developed.
Students in environmental organizations are not the only people with ideas on how to improve campus sustainability. Siju Oshin, a sophomore psychology major, said, “We could be better about not creating waste. I see people throw away papers in trash cans when they could be recycled, and some people don’t seem to know any better. We could definitely use more information about how to be greener.”
Students seem to agree that UMBC has some great green practices, but they also note many of the same opportunities for progress. Education about sustainability is an important first step. Students should look into ways to save energy and always make sure to dispose of their items in the proper containers to avoid generating unnecessary waste.
Another important step would be organizing consistent opportunities for students to share their thoughts on how the campus can be more sustainable. Clearly, students have a lot to say already, and it is important that student voices are taken into account so that new ideas can contribute to the work to make our campus greener.
It is not acceptable to operate with the mentality that the planet is already doomed or that nothing UMBC students do will make a difference.
Students can make a difference, especially with a unified effort, whether that means checking to make sure their lights are off when they leave a room or joining the Environmental Task force on one of the cleanups that have already resulted in 960 pounds of trash being picked up this semester.
Changes are made every year to provide students with opportunities to assist with sustainable practices, including initiatives like compostable containers in the Commons or the new reusable containers in the dining hall.
Students have to utilize those opportunities to work within the constraints of the environment.