A sustainable UW would encompass a closed-loop system which recycles everything. At the present, it is an open system which is unsustainable because resources that could be used again are being wasted and/or deposited into outside systems such as the air, water and land of the K-W area and beyond. What occurs on our campus should be dealt with on our campus.
What is occurring on our campus is taking place on all other campuses and the cumulative effect is devastating and must be addressed if a sustainable future is to be achieved. Creating a closed-loop system will allow us to use our resources more efficiently and reduce our impact on the planet. The benefit of establishing a closed-loop system would be the ability to monitor and evaluate the proper use of our resources.
Presently, UW recycles various products, however this can be improved upon by purchasing only recyclable products and recycling them. In addition, more emphasis should be put on reduction and finding ways to minimize the resource use.
For example, UW could eliminate all single-use products, move to use more re-usables (eg. food containers), make use of natural light when possible, use composters, initiate Lug-a-Mug Campaigns, use more efficient lighting, promote energy conservation by turning off lights, turn down the heat at night amd find better alternatives to road salt and more. Spreading environmental awareness on campus to every person in the UW population is achievable and should be worked on.
UW would be sustainable when it consists of many closed-loop systems within the larger system. The waste stream would be reduced to the lowest level of output by every possible means. Research by students and staff would be conducted and shared among peers and colleagues.
For example, all the paper products, glass products, newspapers and cans that can be recycled would be. New items would be implemented in the recycling system such as plastics. Food scraps would be composted and used to maintain the landscape instead of using hazardous herbicides and pesticides. All of the buildings on campus would have water efficiency improvement technology such as low-flow aerators and toilets. Renewable energies such as solar power would be used instead of the present use of non- renewable resources. Hazardous wastes would be removed from the waste stream. The use of toxics would be eliminated in laboratories on campus. Alternative products and changes in habit would be used and implemented.
Finally, UW would be sustainable when everyone on campus is aware of, concerned for and actively participating in an effort to improve the ecological status of the campus. Environmental awareness on campus would be raised by teaching environmental issues to all faculties and staff. Environmental issues would be taught to students and they would be shown how these issues are related to their discipline and how they affect their lives. This is a charactertistic of a sustainable UW which is crucial to achieve because awareness needs to be established so that people become concerned and are willing to take action and change.
More importantly, UW would be sustainable when it does not threaten the well-being of future generations. If we can live through each day and know that each person on campus is doing his or her best to help the environment, it may be sustainable. It would require a team effort and the cumulative effect of each person at UW will make a significant difference in a positive way. Resources would not be depleted at rates that are too fast for nature to recover.
A sustainable UW would be different from what we have now because it would consist of more efficient systems, reduction would be more of a priority than recycling, the generation of waste would be lower, everyone would be participating in energy conservation, ideas would be made aware to anyone and everyone on campus, there would be a higher level of awareness of the environment, there would be increased incentives to help out and this new behaviour would be incorporated into every day life at UW.