Sustainabilty series part one: Small steps can make a big difference

Sustainabilty series part one: Small steps can make a big difference

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Jake Essman / The Arbiter

Taking environmental measures can seem like a lot of extra energy for a payoff that is neither felt nor seen. Some people may even wonder if a little bit of effort makes any difference in the big picture.

However, Boise State has some sustainability measures in place which can be easy for students to access.

There are some visible initiatives in place; for example, students can refill water bottles with filtered water at 13 drinking fountains located on campus. Refilling water bottles saves students from having to buy a bottle of water, which in turn is one less empty plastic container that needs to be recycled.

There are also things the university does in an attempt to ensure that a lighter carbon footprint is left.

The more aware of them students become, the more likely students will participate.  When people see how small the effort required truly is and what a huge impact it can have (little steps add up quickly), more people will want to help with this environmental calling.

Strictly for the purpose of educating people, the campus has designed a new Sustainability Center, which is located in the Student Union Building. It is next to Pulse Radio and across from the information desk. It is a wall of information about sustainability that includes a couple of interactive book-style exhibits. It covers everything from transportation, to water use, to recycling, with up to date, real
statistics.

The Sustainability Center is the realization of a group of five environmental studies students, who developed this idea for their senior project.

When Julian Lindsay, Riki Sears, Willie Hunt, Kyle Robb and Quinn Macdonald began planning their senior project, they initially thought about trying to create a whole block dedicated to recycling with a center where students could go to get educated on how to live green.

But, time was a consideration and they all wanted something that would be finished within the year. The Sustainability Center became the goal.

Lindsay began networking and making connections and the project began. The group applied to ASBSU for a grant to fund the project, and they were awarded $10,000.

What they lacked in funds was given to them by the Student Union Building and various other supporters.

The group decided they would create panels that would each address a certain aspect of sustainability. Each panel would contain three components; what the issue is, what students as individuals can do about it and what Boise State is currently doing.

Part of the problem is just getting the word out there.

“We took a survey of students and found out that most students don’t know what the university is doing for the environment. And it’s actually a lot; Boise State is actually a green university when it all boils down,” Lindsay said.

“The main drive behind this project for me was just how important it is to get the word out there on these issues. Education is the first step. If people don’t know about them, how will the issues ever be solved?” said Riki Sears, a senior who would like to go into environmental education.

It’s full of facts like, “Did you know leaving your car at home just 2 days a week will reduce greenhouse emissions by an average 1,600 pounds per year” and “It is estimated that in 2013, 36 states in America will experience water shortages.”

The Sustainability Center will also be installing television monitors that will be highlighting people on campus who are involved in sustainability projects.

The center will also generate internships for students interested in environmental studies. It will be future intern’s jobs to ensure that the information is fresh and accurate and to change one of the panels each semester. Future interns will also be responsible for the growth and expansion of the center.

“The center is a place to share ideas,” said Brent Delong, associate director of the Student Union.

Delong also said it was intentionally put in a high traffic area so students will either walk by and get 30 seconds of information, or actually stop and get approximately three minutes of information.

Either way, Delong hopes students walking by the exhibit will leave a little more educated and maybe even inspired.

Lindsay wished to thank everyone who helped with this project, and a special thank you to Riki Sears, Willie Hunt, Kyle Robb, Quinn Macdonald, Scott Lowe (their advisor), and ASBSU for the grant that made this possible.

If anyone has any suggestions or information about projects that are going on, they are encouraged to contact Brent Delong at brentdelong@boisestate.edu.