By Jalyn Bolyard, Online Editor
West Liberty University’s Sustainability Committee is focused on a better today and tomorrow, looking for new ways to expand WLU’s green impact.
“This summer we had a planning retreat,” said Keith Kaczor, Trades Specialist Lead and chairman of the Sustainability Committee. “Out of that planning retreat, we wanted to change the culture toward a more sustainable campus. That has been the basis of everything we wanted to accomplish this year. So, this year we’ve really jumped up the recycling efforts, and we try to make awareness more evident of the things we are doing.”
The campaign the committee has been focusing on is called, “Sustainability is everyone’s responsibility.”
The committee is divided into several subcommittees, which include recycling, social media, environmental education, energy and data, outdoor learning spaces, aquaculture and exploratory. Students, staff and faculty all take part, and are welcomed to join any of the subcommittees. No specific major is required for students interested in joining.
Another way to get involved is through the monthly Lunch and Learn program that started this semester. The first one was about water conservation. Future topics include how to plant with any given space, environmental education, and the next topic is about outdoor learning spaces.
“We started an exploratory committee called outdoor learning spaces,” said Kaczor. “What this committee is looking at is trying to find outdoor classrooms, walking areas, meditation areas, and also to develop some sort of outdoor activities, like climbing walls, challenge courses and things like that, to be used by all the clubs and different departments here on campus, for leadership development, team building and outdoor education.”
Students are welcomed to bring their ideas and a lunch to the event, which will be on Thursday, Nov. 9 at noon in the Boyle Room of the ASRC.
Other than the Lunch and Learn program, some of the committee’s other projects include the on-going recycling competition, student research, and at the end of spring semester there will be donation places set up for students to donate unwanted items, instead of throwing the perfectly usable objects away.
The committee is also constantly looking at new ideas and exploring possibilities for better sustainability on campus, like a fishing farm that students would work on. However, most ideas are still at the exploratory stage.
The committee also has three student interns for this semester, which include Gage Sutton, Joni Lake and
Sutton manages social media and collects data. Lake collects and analyzes data about WLU’s energy consumption, in order to find methods for better efficient energy use. Archey looks at project research and funding, by finding and looking at grants that WLU can utilize.
“This internship allows me to see West Liberty from a more analytical perspective,” said Sutton. “Every time I see a vacant room with a light on or I see recyclables in the trash I see an opportunity to educate. The flow of the process is calm too. While we are constantly working toward success there is not a looming deadline or stressful load of work that dictates attention. The relaxed but focused goals of the committee make working for them a delight.”
“I got involved with sustainability because I was inspired by the initiative WLU is taking to increase awareness of the need for ecofriendly living and to promote a conscious, balanced campus climate,” said Lake. “Sustainability focuses not just on ecological issues, such as natural resource consumption and plastic waste, but on the education and health of our communities. By taking its ‘green’ initiative, WLU is recognizing the importance of not only researching and understanding best practices for sustainability, but actually applying those practices on campus for a healthy hilltop environment.”
The committee also utilizes social media, such as Facebook , Twitter and Instagram, as well as their website, to spread simple tips for students to live a more sustainable life. They also have PSAs on their website that are also running on WLU-TV Channel 14.
“Those help provide tips and how to be involved with this campaign, or for themselves to learn exactly on how to become more sustainable. Even from there, students can take that wherever they go and develop those habits,” said Kaczor.
“Getting involved and improving our campus’s sustainability efforts can be as simple as keeping a separate bag in your dorm room for plastic bottles that can be tossed in the dorm’s recycling bins or turning off lights and devices when they are not in use,” said Lake.
The sustainability committee welcomes all students, faculty and staff to join any of its subcommittees. Students can always stop by the monthly Lunch and Learns as well. The information is out there for anyone to utilize to create a better, sustainable life.
“You can help make a difference even if it’s just educating your friends and family,” said Sutton. “So, get in contact and come to a meeting. More importantly, be a part of the change for a more sustainable West Liberty.”
Photo credit: Media Relations