Continuing to create sustainability on campus

Continuing to create sustainability on campus

Ondrea Machin, Staff Reporter

Recycling bins around campus, Bike to Campus Day, Student Food Access Coalition and many other sustainability projects were put into effect at CWU, after previous Sustainability Cafes were held in order to make CWU more sustainable. 

For the last four years, CWU has been hosting Sustainability Cafes and implementing sustainability projects to improve the campus. Professor of Geological Sciences Susan Kaspari said there are always people who care about sustainability on campus. 

Kaspari said the cafe is a place where people can come together and discuss topics or ideas with the intent to continue making sustainability a priority at CWU. 

Sustainability Coordinator of University Operations Kathleen Klaniecki said the cafes are gathering places for staff and students to engage with a campus community of “like-minded individuals.” 

“It’s been a really powerful way for people to come together, to build community around sustainability, and to advance sustainability when there hasn’t perhaps been the institutional capacity to do so,” Klaniecki said. 

The cafes are all about working together on sustainability projects and implementing them at CWU, as well as providing opportunities for people to contribute new ideas.

Curriculum Sustainability

The curriculum sustainability is about finding ways to implement the 17 goals set by the United Nations under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).  

Some of the goals include zero hunger, clean water and sanitation, quality education, affordable and clean energy and other goals. 

“The idea is that there’s some places where faculty and some institutions are using this as the framework in their teaching,” Kaspari said. “And so what’s really great about it is that you’re able to take what’s being taught in different courses and make it relevant to these big global goals that we as humankind share across the world.” 

One goal CWU has planned is to continue the Sustainability Certificate Program, which is in its second year running, Kaspari said. The certificate is open to students from all majors and colleges, and it gives students the opportunity to “develop experiential, service-learning projects that focus on improving sustainability needs of the university or a community partner,” according to the environmental studies program website.  

Landscaping Sustainability

This project brings unique and cost effective plants to CWU. The idea behind this project is to plant more wildflowers and native plants on campus because these plants tend to take less maintenance and would save CWU money in the long run, according to graduate student Savannah Fields. 

This is an ongoing project and is currently located outside the entrance that faces the lawn at Dean Hall. The goals for this project are to plant perennial wildflowers in the beds, making the cost of the wildflowers a one time purchase compared to the $1,500-$2,000 yearly cost of buying and maintaining annual plants. 

“The plants that I chose, I really tried looking at when the flowers are going to blossom so that way it’s always having a blossom of flowers of some kind throughout the years,” Fields said.

Over time, the perennial flowers will need to be replaced, but Fields said the hope is to plant more of these perennial wildflowers and native plants across campus. 

Waste and Recycling

The waste and recycling sustainability project is an ongoing project to help reduce the amount of waste on campus and encourage people to recycle. 

Issues that this project aims to combat are the use of single-use plastic bags and plastic to-go boxes from the Central MarketPlace. One idea presented by a café participant to help reduce the use of plastic containers was to make reusable containers that students can bring back to the food court.

The reusable containers would be washed and sanitized before their next use and paired with the idea to offer 5 cents towards the student’s next meal in order to get students in the habit of bringing the containers back. 

The idea to help reduce the use of plastic bags is to start charging 10 cents per bag and offer reusable bags for people to purchase at the counter. This will help reduce the amount of plastic bags being used and remind people to bring their reusable bags, a café participant said. The ultimate goal is to eventually get rid of plastic bags completely at CWU. 

Sustainability Café overview

Each quarter the sustainability cafétakes place, it allows students and staff to come together and gives them the opportunity to share their different visions for sustainability projects, Kaspari said. 

Both Kaspari and Klaniecki said they are excited to continue the cafés in the fall, as well as the projects from previous quarters. 

The 2021 Sustainability Champions Awards nominations are open until May 7 and awards will be announced on May 19 at 3 p.m. at the Sustainability End-of-Year celebration (