Why CWU Needs to Go Green

The Great Barrier Reef just died, the air is polluted, and our earth is becoming a giant landfill. Everyone is so concerned with the election and politics that we’re forgetting what’s important: Our home. When is it going to be time to change tactics? The answer is now, and it can start here at Central. One of the biggest steps a university can take to becoming more eco-friendly is eliminating plastics, styrofoams an other harmful materials. Here are a few changes that we could make to make CWU more environmentally sustainable

No More Plastic Bags

Years ago it may have seemed impossible to eliminate plastic bags from our lives. They have become a norm in almost every store across the US since 1977. Not only are they affordable for companies to produce and buy but they are incredibly convenient. However, we can’t let convenience hide the fact that the toxins in plastic are killing our marine life. When looking at the long-term impacts on our ecosystems, suddenly the convenience level plummets. Thankfully, there are other options.

“Scientists estimate that every square mile of ocean contains about 46,000 pieces of floating plastic.”

Secretariat for the Pacific Regional Environmental Program

Plastics kill over 100,000 marine animals a year (and rising) so it’s about time we take a stand. Following San Francisco’s lead, Olympia, Tacoma and Seattle banned all plastic bags from being able to be sold at stores. Only paper and reusable bags are permitted. To encourage people to use reusable bags over paper bags, and to control revenues, a fee was placed on the paper bags – this is a very good thing. These cities set an example for all other cities, it’s time for us to follow suit.

Say Goodbye to Plastic Straws

Currently, many colleges and universities use straws at their dining areas, coffee shops, and market places. On most campuses, you don’t have to go far to find a straw for your drink. At coffee shops especially, it has become the norm. CWU is of course, also guilty of allowing this be the norm. Because of this, the elimination of plastic straws may seem tricky, however as with the removal of plastic bags, there is an alternative.

At Sea World in San Diego California, they use straws made from recycled material to help promote the elimination of plastic straws. They know that, although one plastic straw may seem harmless, a company that sells thousands of them suddenly becomes a big deal. Many other places have taken the initiative to eliminate the use of plastic straws, so what’s stopping us? It may be a hard transition, but it’s a great way to set an example and show our school’s worth. When one university starts a trend, others will see that they can do it too! Take initiative wildcats! Let’s do this.

Stop Selling Bottled Water

Bottled waters and beverages have also become a huge problem in the United States. Central has put up a commendable effort into recycling (with recycling bins located in every building), but it’s not enough. The city of Ellensburg, as with many other cities around the U.S. is far behind in the department of sustainable disposal. The majority of plastics, unfortunately, end up in the trash.

“Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year. However, the U.S.’s recycling rate for plastic is only 23 percent, which means 38 billion water bottles – more than $1 billion worth of plastic – are wasted each year.” – Ban the Bottle

Maybe there’s not enough incentive for people to throw their bottle in the recycling bin over the trash. Is it laziness? Is it lack of education on the environmental impact of plastic? Whatever the reason, it’s time to change tactics and get rid of bottled waters altogether. Over 70 schools across the US have joined the Ban the Bottle movement to help get rid of these environmentally harmful items (including our rival, Western). These schools use other approaches to getting water to their students. This includes extra water fountains, paper cups and water dispensers, or real cups, plates and silverware for dining. There’s really no excuse for other campuses. Chances are, the only thing standing in the way between our school and this movement is a lack of concern and a well written letter to President Gaudino.

All of these plastic-elimination projects have been done before, which proves that CWU can do them too! A few dozen (tasteful) letters to the president’s office might get the job done. If anything, it would show that we, as a community, care about what happens to our environment. Imagine the difference we could make if we banded together to accomplish a common goal that would ultimately benefit society. Imagine our environment healing, because WE did something about it. Let’s start a movement. It’s time for change.

Make sure to check out the linked sites above for some insight into just how bad the world’s plastic consumption has gotten and what other schools are doing about it.