Going green at KSU?

Thisanjali Gangoda

The phrase “going green” is starting to get really, really old. Commercial companies throw the term around left and right, claiming that their products are environmentally friendly and efficient. Politicians use environmental awareness and sustainability as a platform for their campaigns, urging us to vote to better protect our earth. Yet with all this hype, there continues to be limited efforts in the United States to maintain recycling and compost projects. Nearly 35 percent of landfill waste is recyclable materials such as paper and cardboard, with 25 percent being food scraps that could have been composted.

As a nation, we are perplexed by the issues of rising gas prices, global warming and pollution, but rarely do we confront issues of limited funding for environmental education, research and investment in alternative energy sources. Though individual people and communities may commit to environmental projects, government and corporate institutions have little accountability for their actions when it comes to overarching environmental protection.

This includes Kent State.

Kent State was quick to jump on the going green bandwagon, but the purpose of doing so seems to have been lost. There have been efforts made for our campus to be more environmentally friendly, which I do support and applaud. In 2005, Kent State received the Ohio governor’s energy efficiency award, and Campus Environment and Operations Services continues to work on reducing energy consumption in the many university buildings. However, these efforts need to be clearer to students and faculty as to why it is important to go green. What good does it do to propose and invest in projects of environmental sustainability when no one understands why?

There are recycling bins on a few floors of each department and in the Student Center, but they aren’t prominently displayed or noted. Nearly every time I walk by a recycling bin, I notice that there’s trash mixed in with a few lonely recyclable items. The people who aren’t paying attention to where they’re throwing trash are certainly to blame, but it would help if the recycling bins were brighter and more noticeable. There should be small cards placed next to the bins explaining what is and what isn’t recyclable. This would encourage people to pay attention and sort out their trash.

When it comes to Kent State’s grand scheme of campus wide renovations, we have yet to discover whether it’s for the purpose of being environmentally friendly or just for show. What is the breakdown of the proposed $14 million going towards deferred maintenance, classroom enhancement and energy conservation in academic facilities? This dollar amount has yet to be approved by the Ohio Board of Regents, and if it is, let’s hope that there is more transparency and accountability for Kent State to be environmentally friendly.

The logistics as to why we should go green may be obvious to some, but not all. Just take a look at how many people drive to class rather than walk. The lights stay on all night at the library and how many Daily Kent Staters end up in the trash? It’s up to us to ask these questions and see through that Kent State truly goes green with renovations and increased education on environmental sustainability.

Contact Thisanjali Gangoda at [email protected].