Campus Sustainability Month: Sustainable campuses are here to stay
Globally, colleges and universities are celebrating Campus Sustainability Month! During the month of October, students mark the international celebration by creating sustainable change on their campuses. The annual event both, celebrates the achievements of higher education’s sustainability efforts and deepens awareness about student and campus sustainability goals.
Students present their advocacy with action. They organize campus events like clothing swaps, sustainability webinars and forums, and nature walks.
More civic -minded students may engage in activities affecting government and school policies. They lobby for zero-waste food policies, biodiverse green spaces, and alternative transportation options (i.e., bikes, electric bikes, and scooters) on campus.
Although Campus Sustainability Month activities happen in October, the idea is that the solutions will become part of normal operations. In Eindhoven, a city in the Netherlands, the High Tech Campus is considered the most sustainable campus in Europe. When you take a stroll on campus, don’t be surprised if you are greeted by sheep.
Sheep are used to maintain the lawn. They mow and graze selectively, which is more eco-friendly, even if some patches of grass are higher than others. It also allows for the spreading of seeds, and the random blossom of wildflowers, which brings the pollinators around.
Schools like the University of Rhode Island, hold themselves accountable to students and the public by publishing their sustainability goals. In their Strategic Plan for Campus Sustainability and Climate Action, one of URI's goals is emphasizing engagement and outreach. Their objective is to:
- Develop and implement outreach programs that promote a culture of sustainability.
- Equip students, faculty, and staff with the tools, knowledge, and motivation to adopt behavior changes that promote sustainability.
The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) encourages campuses to announce their new sustainability commitments during Campus Sustainability Month. The organization states, “The goal of CSM is to raise the visibility of campus sustainability and provide campus sustainability advocates with a platform through which to deepen campus engagement around sustainability. It provides an excellent opportunity to recruit new leaders and set goals for the rest of the year.”
New leaders are just waiting to emerge in Generation Z. They are the age group of most students currently on college campuses and are considered a sustainable generation.
Generation Z bases much of their retail decisions on personal, social, and environmental values, and they do not mind paying the price differential to appease their virtues.
Their sustainable choices are a lifestyle, which may extend to their selection of colleges. Why is this important?
According to the American Dining Services' article, 10 Ways to Promote Sustainability on College Campuses: "A campus with a variety of sustainability initiatives often has healthier food, community service opportunities, and a creative approach to lifestyle behaviors.
These are the amenities that are non-negotiable for many Gen Z-ers.
For more information about campus sustainability, AASHE will host the Global Conference on Sustainability in Higher Education: The Urgency of Now, which will stream live on Oct. 18, Oct. 26, and Nov. 3.
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