What can we do to protect the environment on campus?

(File Photo/The Daily Campus)

UConn’s sustainability rating for waste has suffered a significant decline from a score of 106 out of 107 in 2013 to 65 out of 95 in 2017, according to the Sierra Club. Caroline Anastasia, an intern at the office of environmental policy at UConn, claims that this decrease is the result of a decrease in the number of recycling bins around campus. This lowers students’ incentive to recycle since it is now much more convenient and timesaving to throw recyclables in the trash. It also leads to an increase in littering around campus, since disposal of trash requires more effort on the students’ part.

In general, a polluted or unclean environment is associated with various diseases; this is especially dangerous on college campuses because of the density of people living very close to one another, so diseases spread fast. Students tend to spend large portions of their days on campus and in residence halls, so maintaining a clean campus is important to promoting student health.

To increase student productivity, it is crucial to promote cleanliness and prevent environmental decay on campus. Whether indoor or outdoor, maintaining an aesthetically pleasant landscape is a significant contributor to student productivity. Preserving the natural landscape of the campus is central to students’ academic performance. It has been found that “looking at some greenery boosts brainpower, improves mood and makes employees (or in this case, students) more attentive”, which results in higher academic performance and increase in productivity. With the return of finals, it is important to maintain an environment that promotes productivity and mood, especially as a method of de-stressing students.

There is a misconception that helping the environment is time consuming and involves political advocacy such as joining various organizations that actively focus on environmental issues. There are, however, a myriad of timesaving deeds students can do to better the environment. Small measures, such as recycling and not littering can collectively make a bigger difference than most would think.

Recycling alone makes an impact on the environment both on and off campus. “365 plastic water bottles that are recycled can become the equivalent of 19 soft t-shirts, or fiberfill for 26 fluffy ski jackets”. The average American consumes 44 gallons of soda and 58 gallons of water per year; that comes down to 2-3 plastic bottles per person per day. If there are approximately 32,000 students just on UConn Storrs campus, there are approximately 80,000 plastic bottles that can be recycled on campus every day. Every student’s contribution to the campus environment can begin by just throwing a plastic bottle in the recycling bin.

Another well-known element of environment protection is resource conservation. This does not have to mean five minute showers and cautious use of electricity. Small measures, such as turning off lights when we leave a room or printing on both sides of paper, can be integrated into our daily routines and not cost us much time. “Copying images on both sides of a sheet of paper can save up to 50% of paper costs” and is, therefore, more economically and environmentally efficient.

As students, many of us come to college mainly to succeed in academics. In order to do so, it is important that we maintain a pleasant environment in which we enjoy spending hours of every day and we need to do so in a time-conserving manner. By integrating simple environment-conserving measures, such as recycling or printing on both sides of paper, we play a role in protecting the environment on campus, where many of us live and study.


Keren Blaunstein is a contributor for The Daily Campus.  She can be reached via email at keren.blaunstein@uconn.edu.