For a school so progressive and looking towards the future to reach a goal to be viewed as a “premier, private, not-for-profit university of quality and distinction,” NSU is definitely lacking in the environmentally conscious department. NSU is known to have numerous programs across a variety of disciplines with an emphasis on the sciences, which makes all of the environmental setbacks on campus ironic.
Shark Dining serves meals and other products throughout the day and each of these meals are served in plastic containers, plastic bags and worst of all, styrofoam plates. Styrofoam is made of polystyrene (EPS) foam, which is very hard to recycle. This means that all of those plates we eat on three times or more a day, will end up in a landfill — that’s a lot of plates.
It’s true that there have been a few attempts to provide students with reusable plates or take-away containers, but these plans haven’t really been successful. They were not evenly distributed to all students and not all students were aware of these products. Here’s another question: Why can’t we just bring our own containers and plates to the UC to use? It will not only be more environmentally conscious but cost efficient. That way, NSU will only need to buy a certain amount of the containers for those who aren’t prepared with containers, which would be a fraction of the containers being used currently.
A majority of the buildings in NSU run on systems where lights are turned off when not in use. This is a great step towards saving energy, but there is always progress to be made. We live in an extremely warm climate — we didn’t get the name “The Sunshine State” for nothing — so why don’t we add solar panels on some of the buildings? Most of them get warmth beating into the buildings anyways so why not capture those rays and use them for sustainable energy? Yes, this would require a lot of labor and maintenance to put together, but the amount of the money the school would save with these efforts in the long run would be worth the initial price tag.
Additionally, there are fliers, boards and other forms of advertisements constantly being placed around campus, which can not only be distracting but also an incredible waste of paper, since most people just throw out these fliers or ignore them. Yes, the paper will eventually be recycled but we still shouldn’t be using this much in the first place if it doesn’t serve its purpose. Maybe if we had projector screens and monitors filled with more advertisements of events on campus compared to what we have now, it would not only be more environmentally conscious but also make more space for walking and take away from distractions in the areas of high foot-traffic.
Here comes another touchy subject: cars and other motor vehicle emissions. We all know that these emissions are not great for the environment. Burning fossil fuels is terrible for the environment. I’m not saying we should ban cars and trucks completely, but we can certainly put in place programs to reduce these problems. Why not put some of the Shark Shuttles lines that were advertised to freshmen back in service? We do have lines on the weekends to go downtown but that doesn’t extend to other needs like food shopping that might be needed during the week. If we put some more lines in place, we can cut down on the amount of students driving to the same place on the same day. Of course, there will still be cars on the road, but adding this service would reduce the amount of trips. I know there are many students who rely on Uber, Lyft and other means of transportation to get around, but if they had a resource that is part of NSU, I’m sure they would use it if it worked with students fairly. This would also cut down out of pocket costs which is a major sore spot for college students across the United States.
I’m not saying this school isn’t anything; NSU is really trying to make decisions with the environment in mind, which, as an environmental science major, I greatly appreciate. But there is always room for improvement and room for new ideas to be spread. Implementing any or all of these ideas will also give our school a big jump on our way to being on the list of energy-efficient and environmentally friendly universities, which never hurts. I’m not trying to be a “tree-hugger;” admittedly I use paper and plastic as much as anyone else. I just feel that if we could improve upon the process in which we do things, instead of focusing on the easiest path, we can make a really big difference on our output. Why not start with our everyday life at our home away from home?