Sustainability efforts on campus both new and old were brought to the forefront Tuesday afternoon as the Gulls Leave Small Footprints initiative kicked off inside the dining hall.
The event featured games, free gifts and the chance for students to make a pledge toward reducing the carbon footprint of the Salisbury University community.
Pledges involved simple lifestyle changes such as using a reusable water bottle in lieu of single-use ones and promising to walk short distances rather than drive.
Susan Noah, the assistant director of University Dining Services, said the idea for a campus-wide, multilateral sustainability initiative came from a similar program underway at the University of Maryland.
“It was a good program, it was a great idea. I thought we could really get the students engaged in the program,” Noah said.
Rather than be the responsibility of any one group, the initiative is a collaboration between many groups and departments on campus. Any group that has any ideas for a more sustainable campus is welcome to join the campaign.
“We've had a couple meetings together, and everybody gets together in the room and we shoot around ideas and talk about some of the goals that we wanted to do with this project,” Noah said. “In the meetings, we would talk about ‘Who else do we think might want to get involved?’ And so I’d get a reference from one person or another, and then I contact them. And then a ‘Yes, we want to be involved,’ and they'd come to our next meeting,” Noah said.
Aysia Eskridge, a sophomore, is one of many students to pledge to make a change.
Eskridge found that most of the pledges were simple changes that any individual could attempt.
“It was like, cutting down on water use, electricity use, like cutting off lights when you’re not in the room, or turning off the faucet when you're brushing your teeth. And also, recycling. They gave us the water bottle as, like, an option to use instead of waste,” Eskridge said.
Her hopes are that SU’s sustainability initiatives spread throughout the entire Salisbury community.
“I definitely think when it comes to water supply, energy use and of course, recycling is definitely something to consider in your routine,” Eskridge said.
SU is no stranger to sustainability. The solar parking lot on campus generates over 750,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually — enough to power three residence halls on campus.
Even before the Gulls Leave Small Footprints initiative, plans were made to help students adopt environmentally-friendly behaviors. The partnership was simply the evolution of SU’s commitment to sustainability.
“When [University Dining Services] told us about this event, we were absolutely excited to partner with them in order to promote sustainability on campus and hope that people actually use these items and limit the plastic case that everybody uses in plastic water bottles,” said Kate Harbaugh, president of the Student Organization for Activity Planning.
“I think with our dining locations on campus, not the Commons especially — but like, Cool Beans and the Henson Cafeteria’s little dining area, they have so much single-use plastic, and we can find a way to limit our plastic emission that would definitely help the campus. So, I don't know necessarily sustainable alternatives that are cost-effective for universities. But I think if we can find those ways, it'll definitely help,” Harbaugh said.
You can learn more about the Gulls Leave Small Footprints initiative here.
By K.B. MENSAH
Featured photo: Emma Reider image.