Go, Green! How Colleges Across the Country are Becoming More Sustainable

How Do Students Feel About Their Sustainable Schools?
Meghan Frick, HC contributing writer and a senior at Appalachian State, says her school’s green practices didn’t influence her decision to attend the school, but going there has opened her eyes to the importance of sustainability.
“I am proud of my university in so many ways, but its continuous efforts to become more and more sustainable are one of the things I always bring up when I’m telling other people how great it is here,” Meghan said.
At Emory, Alice says student participation is divided. “There are some people who live and breathe sustainability, to the point where they will save their trash and recycling until they find somewhere to compost and recycle their waste, whereas others blatantly toss items in the trash even though there is a neighboring recycling bin,” she says.
Are There Any Downsides to Going Green?

Though some schools have developed workable models to fund sustainability, the costs are the main roadblock for many colleges and universities. Retrofitting buildings, purchasing organic food and using green cleaning supplies can be extremely expensive. Therefore, in order to support these initiatives, schools need to have sufficient funding.
Another problem is that it is hard to get everybody at a particular college or university motivated enough to participate. As Alice said, not everybody is willing to take the time to help the school meet its sustainability goals.
How Can Students Get Involved with Going Green?
Not all universities demonstrate a high-level commitment to sustainability, but that doesn’t mean all students can’t get involved. “Students have a lot of influence on a college or university campus, more than they realize,” said Simmons. She recommends that students organize themselves with other students who have the same passion.
Here are some tips to get the ball rolling at your school:

  • Advocate to have recycling bins next to every trash can on campus. Some schools might already have this, but this is the easiest way to make a small change that can go a long way.
  • Start or join an environmental group on campus to bond with other students who want to see change happen.
  • Try and talk to campus administrators about plans for new buildings and/or renovations and ask if they’ve considered LEED certification.
  • Sign up for environmental studies classes to learn more! 

Crystal Simmons, Sustainability Specialist at Appalachian State University
Alan Oak, Dean of External Relations at Miami University’s Farmer School of Business
Anne M. Emmerth, Senior Director of Communications at Miami University’s Farmer School of Business
Meghan Frick, Her Campus Contributing Writer, Appalachian State University 2012
Kayla Riley, Her Campus Contributing Writer, University of Maine 2012
Alaine Perconti, Her Campus Contributing Writer and Campus Correspondent, Miami University 2013
Alice Chen, Her Campus Editor, Emory University 2012
Appalachian State Sustainability Report