Why What We Do Matters
There are a host of reasons why higher education leaders need to think hard about waste management and sustainability.
There’s only one Earth
The environmental challenges we all face today — most especially the young people who will encounter climate and environmental challenges throughout their lifetimes — can only be met by collective action. There is no single magic bullet. Entities both large and small must do their part.
For decades — perhaps most strikingly since the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring — there has been a growing recognition that the modern economy not only brings wonders, but also dangers. Academia has been at the forefront of the environmental movement and has led the way in changing cultural norms.
What we do at Reduction In Motion is to develop and implement the particulars of environmentalism — zero waste college campus consulting, landfill diversion, waste diversion, and recycling support. We help create the routine, everyday procedures that mitigate the human impact on planet Earth. Our specialty is creating modes of sustainability and waste reduction for organizations large and small.
And Then There’s Your Budget To Think Of
What we do is definitely not all “pie in the sky.” Higher education is facing the continuing challenges of a declining student base due to demographic changes and the ongoing conundrum of rising student debt. Any area on campus where there is the opportunity for budgetary savings must be explored.
And what we do can save money.
The fact is one of the great successes of the environmental movement was ridding the nation of unregulated and dangerous landfills. No longer is waste just dumped in a glorified hole in the ground. Landfills are now lined, monitored, and operated with a much higher degree of technical sophistication.
But modern landfills definitely cost more to operate. And that price is passed onto customers. Large-volume users like college campuses and universities end up with a significant line item in their operating budget for trash disposal.
We can help you cut down on the amount of trash going to the landfill and become a zero waste college campus. This will provide savings on an annual basis.
Sustainability Does Not Go Unnoticed
Though institutes of higher education operate for the public good, they are also part of a highly competitive sector of the economy. Schools compete for students, faculty, donations, and publicity.
Implementing a robust, effective, and well-publicized sustainability agenda will heighten the status of a university to a zero waste college campus. It will signal to the wider public a commitment to the future and an acceptance of not-for-profit corporate responsibility.
For example, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) was founded in 2005 and supports “… empowering higher education faculty, administrators, staff and students to be effective change agents and drivers of sustainability innovation.” It provides resources and its Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System (STARS) is used to recognize institutions that pursue sustainability programs.
There has also been a growing movement to use campuses as a “living lab,” where innovative sustainability methodologies can be explored and tested — with an eye on taking what is learned and extrapolating it to the wider community. The Campus as a Living Lab program of the Institute For Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is one example of this line of thinking.
“Transforming university campuses into ‘living laboratories’ is a timely and important campaign,” said Ximing Cai, iSEE’s Associate Director for Campus Sustainability. “Sustainability isn’t just happening ‘out there;’ it’s a consideration every day right here on our campus. By using our own facilities and community as a miniature model of the world at large, we can learn things that will make this campus better, but also make the world better.”
This kind of systematic implementation of cutting-edge sustainability and waste reduction programming is what we do at Reduction In Motion. We’ll help you design a zero waste college campus. It’s our day job.