Since the 1970s, UNH has had the right idea. Sustainable living has been a core value for our university ever since a grassroots leadership group of faculty, staff and students began to research the environment and its many issues several decades ago. In fact, the sustainability program at UNH is the oldest endowed, university-wide sustainability program in U.S. higher education, according to the university’s website.
Everywhere from the dining halls to residential areas, UNH strives for more sustainable living throughout campus. For instance, since the summer of 2006, the staff of UNH Dining has been participating in the UNH compost program, an initiative that partners with Kingman farm to turn the waste generated from the almost 70,000 meals produced by the dining halls each week, into soil.
There are also ways the university makes being more eco-friendly easy for students: in each of the on-campus residence halls, for example, there are several hydration stations, where anyone can re-fill a water bottle with filtered water. The hydration stations are also dispersed throughout the MUB, library and Hamel Rec. Center, discouraging the use of plastic water bottles by making sustainable living more convenient for the UNH community.
According to its website, in 2014 the UNH Sustainability Institute also assumed ownership for the Campus Carbon Calculator and CarbonMAP, two tools that help thousands of U.S. and international institutions determine how they can manage their greenhouse gas emissions more efficiently. The Campus Carbon Calculator was originally co-developed by the Sustainability Institute in 2001, along with the former non-profit Clean Air-Cool Planet.
UNH now even offers a dual major in sustainability, encouraging students who are passionate about clean living to turn their interests into a career. On the Sustainability Institute’s website, there are several categories that display the areas in which UNH is becoming more eco-friendly, including biodiversity, climate and culture, just to name a few. To summarize, there is no shortage of ways that this university is striving to help our planet on both a local and global scale.
However, sustainable efforts can only go so far without everyone doing their part. Reduce, reuse and recycle are three words that have resonated in our minds since the day we were born, but when you take a step back and think about it, are you actually doing everything you can? Are you doing anything at all?
Did you know, for instance, that if the U.S. recycling levels were to reach 75 percent, the benefit to the environment would be equivalent to removing 50 million cars from the road each year? According to the website Recycle Across America, this is one of the multiple recycling facts that simply require more people to incorporate sustainability into their everyday lifestyles, even in ways as simple as recycling more often.
Living a sustainable life is very simple; a few changes to an every day routine can turn your life from wasteful to reusable. Bringing canvas or other re-usable bags to the super market to avoid using plastic ones, reusing containers instead of buying Tupperware, or even shortening your shower can make an impact on the environment.
Our planet is our home, and together we need to take care of it. If we ruin this earth, we can’t go back. No matter how insignificant they may seem individually, small efforts from everyone is what it will take to establish a healthier planet that will be around for the long haul. Don’t wait until it’s too late.