Editorial: UConn’s Green Initiative is in full bloom

As a university, University of Connecticut has a duty to provide for its students in a wide variety of ways. Such perks as a treasure trove of on-campus restaurants and stores, easy access to sporting events through a straightforward transportation system, and bookings of performances by fairly significant musicians, comedians and other celebrities are merely luxuries, not necessities. UConn students, although extremely fortunate to have such conveniences and diversions, should truly express gratitude towards their alma mater for engaging in environmentally-friendly practices regularly and instilling a green initiative that will persist even after graduation.

The Sierra Club, a highly-renowned nonprofit environmental organization, has accredited UConn’s tremendous environmental preservation efforts, bestowing the university with a rank of third overall on its “Cool Schools” list.  Contrary to popular belief, UConn and other campuses nationwide don’t earn this prestigious honor easily. Richard Miller, director of UConn’s Office of Environmental Policy, attests that “everyone is trying to get better, the standards are becoming more and more complex and stringent, and the auditing process is more rigorous to ensure reporting is accurate. The survey requires a coordinated team effort.”  Environmental conservation demands a multifaceted approach, and it’s certainly not an issue that students should disregard as a mere footnote on their resident assistant (RA)’s seemingly unremarkable dormitory rules list.

Dinin-related initiatives have cast a radiant spotlight upon UConn’s green practices. While a vocal student sect may abhor the Student Union’s transition to paper straws and revile dining halls’ newly-introduced blended burgers and vegan options, such modifications benefit the environment. On a less contentious note, UConn sources much of its food from local community farms and is partnering with Quantum Biopower to ensure proper waste management. Furthermore, Miller notes that UConn’s “reclaimed water facility, coupled with other water-use reduction strategies, has led to a 40 percent reduction in water consumption between 2005 and 2017… despite significant growth… in enrollment and increases in square footage of buildings.” 

Financially-incentivized green practices, particularly common within supermarkets, have pervaded UConn as well. UConn Bookstore customers who decline plastic bags with their purchases receive five-cent discounts, which can be parlayed into philanthropic donations towards environmental sustainability.

Lastly, UConn’s recently-enacted Environmental Literacy course requirement will foster new generations of climate-change truthers. Even if students don’t memorize every iota of their textbooks and lectures, general takeaways should nevertheless prove their worth and hopefully end the unfounded, perilous debate surrounding humans’ environmental impact.

Clearly, there’s no time or resource worth wasting in the pursuit of planetary protection. Beyond the occasional use of a recycle bin or passing admiration of that pretty flower garden adjacent to a given building, UConn students and faculty alike must advocate seriously for green initiatives. After all, parents should clean their children’s messes, not the other way around. Fortunately, UConn provides a safe, pristine environment for its huskies (and their canine counterparts) to wag their tails and prance uninhibited.