Campus must push sustainability

Graphic by Seth Anderson

With state officials planning extensive cuts and policy changes in regards to recycling programs statewide, it’s important UW-Whitewater stands strong as a leader in sustainability.

Gov. Scott Walker’s 2011-2013 budget proposal would remove a mandate requiring local communities to run recycling programs and eliminate all recycling grants to local governments next year.

Separate from Walker’s proposal, state officials also plan to attack the state’s fiscal challenges by cutting recycling aid 40 percent by summer.

By crippling current recycling efforts, the state is taking a turn in the wrong direction.

Though recycling programs are facing darker days, it is important UW-Whitewater continues its efforts in sustainability and serves as a role model for cities and municipalities statewide.

UW-Whitewater has made numerous strides in sustainability over the past few years and must continue to do so in the years to follow if it is to serve as an example.

Students who regularly eat on campus are witnesses to one of the positive steps this campus has taken.

Though as simple as it might seem, plastic trays and cups have greatly lowered the amount of needless waste from dining halls.

Also, offering the refillable plastic bottles along with a discounted refill fee discourages the use of Styrofoam cups that would eventually end up either incinerated or in a nearby landfill.

The solar panels on Hyland Hall serve as a renewable energy source and are expected to create nearly 40,000 kilowatt-hours of energy each year.

The average American home uses approximately 25 kilowatt-hours each day, or about 9,000 kilowatt-hours per year.  If the solar panels on Hyland Hall reach their expected potential, they could produce enough energy to power four Wisconsin homes for a year.

The amount of energy is nearly enough to power the building’s trading room, including the computers, electronic ticker and lights, and also another computer lab in the building.

Better yet, according to WE Energies, since the installation of the solar panels, the university has avoided the creation of 15,479.9 pounds of carbon dioxide, the most abundant of the greenhouse gases and frequently blamed for global warming.

UW-Whitewater has implemented the use of an alternative fuel vehicle and created the UW-Whitewater Water Council, the first of its kind.

The university has even created the full-time sustainability coordinator position, held by Wesley Enterline, who is dedicated to advancing UW-Whitewater’s sustainability goals.

To this date, UW-Whitewater has shown the value it places in making the world a better, greener place in the sustainability advancements it has made.

The university must continue to share this value, the knowledge gained, and the data collected from sustainability efforts with local communities and show how important the issue of sustainability truly is.

The local communities will be hurt the most when the funding they receive from the state is taken away.

As a part of a Wisconsin community, UW-Whitewater must serve as an example and a helping hand to not only the City of Whitewater, but others as well.

UW-Whitewater must strive to not only maintain its recycling program but push communities and campuses statewide to do so as well.

Mankind is dependent on the environment for survival and unless something is done to preserve the planet and the resources humans depend on, there will eventually be nothing left.

By helping to pave the road to a more sustainable environment, UW-Whitewater has opened up a path so others can begin to follow in our footsteps.

UW-Whitewater must continue to be a leader in encouraging other universities and communities to become more sustainable, regardless of the proposed cuts to recycling programs.

After all, the monetary cost of recycling programs is much less than the cost mankind will face if we fail to preserve our planet.