As inhabitants of this beautiful Earth that we all call home, it is important for us as a society to become aware of the effects of our actions. The UConn Honors program collaborated with the UConn Sustainability Subcommittee to host ‘Sustainability in the Environment’ on Tuesday evening. Emma Macdonald and Natalie Roach, the UConn SSC representatives, shed light on sustainable development, climate change, environmental justice and how we can all take part in creating a brighter future for our planet Earth.
Sustainable development is all about making the world a better place for everyone without destroying the possibilities for future generations. In order to succeed in sustainable development, there must be equal consideration of social progress, economic development and climate and environment. Being aware of how we use our energy sources, and how long we can use them for without damaging the Earth is imperative. For example, oil and coal will eventually run out, while sun, wind and water are energy sources that will always be accessible. The ultimate goal of sustainable development is to eventually slow down, or reserve, climate change. Our world is increasingly becoming hotter every year and it is critical that we take action to save our planet while we can. Roach explains how sustainability is slightly hard to achieve because it is considered a “wicked problem:” No clear problem definition, it will never be completely solved, and evaluating solutions can take a long time. This does not mean that we should refrain from completing small tasks and changing small habits throughout our daily lives. Using aluminum straws rather than plastic ones is a small step that creates a big impact.
A second large component of environmental awareness is environmental justice. Environmental justice states that the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies must fairly treat all people, regardless of race, national origin or income. When examining landfills across the U.S., it is evident that most of them are placed in poor, minority neighborhoods. This is detrimental to the people living there and to society as a whole.
The UConn SSC, a subcommittee of UConn Student Government, focuses their time and research on the interplay of the environment and social justice. They strive to make UConn a more environmentally friendly place by advocating for more water refill stations throughout the university or decreasing paper bags in the Student Union. Throughout their presentation, students were provided with a “How Sustainable Am I?” checklist to track their daily habits. Several statements were, “I print my papers double-sided, during the day I unplug my chargers when I am not using them, when I leave my dorm, I always turn off my lights.” While we may not realize it, all of these simple tasks create a far more sustainable environment. Reusing a plastic bag or turning the water off while brushing our teeth are not difficult things to accomplish. The first step of becoming sustainable and helping our environment is becoming knowledgeable. The second step is implementing it. It’s never too late to start helping our planet Earth live a longer, healthier and happier life.
Jordana Castelli is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.