MU’s numerous sustainability programs have made it stand out among colleges, earning the school a spot on Best College Ranking’s top 100 “green” colleges list.
Campus leaders say the sustainability projects at MU focus on the three main benefits of going “green”: a healthier environment, social justice and fiscal advantage, allowing everyone to find a reason to live sustainably.
Alicia LaVaute, a leader in the Sustainability Office, is a big advocate for the “5Rs” mindset — reduce, reuse, recycle, refuse and rot.
“Refuse the little tchotchke items businesses are giving you and say, ‘You know what, this is something I’ll probably just take back to my house and probably just throw away,’” LaVaute said.
MU has already saved big with their sustainability programs. Since the Energy Conservation Program started in 1990, MU has saved over $60 million through a variety of projects, and has seen a 52 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions per square foot.
RecycleMania, an annual low-waste project, encourages universities to compete in sustainability by recycling. MU placed 26th in 2014, up 147 places from 2013.
Sustain Mizzou is a student organization that works with other students to promote sustainability on campus. Sustain Mizzou puts students into action by having them participate in events like stream cleanups or Sustainability Week in April.
“I really enjoy our (Stream Team) camping trip that we do every fall down to the Missouri River,” Sustain Mizzou President Jackson Hambrick said.
Students and faculty at the Environmental Leadership Office are also making huge strides in sustainability. Little efforts can make a huge difference if more get involved, they say. By volunteering at Bradford Research Farm or riding a bike to class, students make an impact on sustainability.
“It’s cliché, I suppose, but every little bit helps,” ELO bike mechanic Kyle Morse said. “I have a feeling that if I told everyone on campus that there were free bikes they could ride whenever they want, a lot of people would be shocked and some of those would take advantage of it.”
ELO’s Bike Resource Center operates MU Bike Share and offers bike repairs to students for free, only requiring that students bring their own replacement parts. However, mechanics for ELO don’t let students sit idly by while their bike is fixed. The students stick around to learn how their bike works and why it needed a repair.
“If you do own your bike, I always encourage people to understand (their bike), so that they become more independent,” Morse said.
Educating students about sustainability is one of the main tools used by ELO, and the university as a whole, to promote sustainability at MU.
“There is something my dad used to tell me as a kid whenever we would go camping,” ELO ambassador Taylor Westfall said. “He would say, ‘Little sticks make big fires.’ I think that’s really true for the environmental movement. I think there are so many little things that you can do that multiply in the end.”
Correction Alicia LaVaute's name was spelled incorrectly in one attribution. The Maneater regrets this error.