Green U: Sustainability Initiatives at UW-Eau Claire

Creating a Greener Environment Right Here at UW-Eau Claire

By Crystal Navarrete, Henry Williams, Amy Xiong

"Going green" is not just something large corporations are doing, but it is something UWEC students, staff, and faculty are now participating in on a daily basis.

“Green is the new color of money,” said senior management lecturer Terry Wells. Wells attended several green sessions at an operations management conference last fall and learned some green strategies that companies are implementing. More companies understand sustainability and the notion that recycling, eliminating waste, and lowering a carbon footprint not only benefits people and the environment, but it is also cost effective.

Wells said that companies carefully analyze the cost-benefit analysis and payback period for implementing any green strategy. Money is only spent once, as payoff is witnessed. A common misconception she said, is that only big companies with big budgets can afford expensive, complex equipment to go green.

Dr. Kate Hale, English professor and Campus Sustainability Fellow, said that, “There are two ways to think of expensive. The first is the immediate impact of dollars spent when paid, which is like paying with a credit card. The next is the implication of production and deployment to stores and how fast they fall apart and end up in landfills.”

The key, Hale said, is to realize that there is no harm in being sustainable. There are no costs to turn off unused lights or unplugging a cell phone charger.

Green behavior is starting to become more of the norm on campus. Students are encouraged to submit assignments online through Desire2Learn instead of printing them off. Compost bins have been placed in the Davies Center dining facilities to reduce the amount of landfill waste.

Why go green now?

Hale also discussed how there has been an increase in campus-wide initiatives, such as joining the President’s Climate Commitment, a promise from universities to reduce their carbon footprint.

Wells believes that “most of the green movement is pushed by youth,” and that students are more conscious of the world around them because of the high accessibility to information from the Internet. Younger generations are familiar with visuals of pollution, poverty, drying rivers, and diminishing rain forests.

“Students do care and want to practice sustainability so that their children and grandchildren can enjoy it in the future.” Wells said.

Most importantly, the green movement involves creating a greater sense of community. Faculty, staff, and students are coming together from different parts of the University to share a common goal of sustainability. People often forget that living sustainability is a global effort: the purchase of a t-shirt affects people around the world. The cotton may have been grown by a farmer in China, then was made into fabric in India, and then sewed into a garment in Mexico.

Wells said she is excited to see more green initiatives at UW-Eau Claire and hopes to implement more green material into her curriculum. Hale continues to bring together people for projects and runs the UWEC Sustainability Web site. Environmental sustainability starts with and spreads with your actions today to affect tomorrow’s future.

For more information about green initiatives and sustainability at UW-Eau Claire, visit the sustainability Web page.

Crystal Navarrete Henry WilliamsAmy XiongFrom left to right: Crystal Navarrete is a senior marketing major from Fullerton, Cal; Henry Williams is a senior marketing major from Woodbury, Min; Amy Xiong is a senior marketing & psychology double major from Altoona Wis. They wrote this article for their advanced business communication course.

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