From the mid 20th century, there have been frantic efforts to conserve the environment by going green in human activities (Shropshire, para.4). The efforts of greening the earth have assumed levels of cultural activities in the US; the efforts being led in all facets of the American society, including the institutions of higher learning like the universities. A lot of efforts aimed at ensuring that only eco-friendly human activities are promoted while populations are constantly advised against the activities which harm a favorable eco-balance have been witnessed (Jones, para.1). Such activities include the burning of fossil fuels, clearing of expanses of forest coverage, usage of non-biodegradable materials and misuse of water resources, among a myriad of other activities (Shropshire, para.2). In the long term, the recycling, sharing and less paper work will lead to reduction of pollution of the environment and sustainable usage of forest and other natural resources.
As a culture, all stratums of the society have been involved in varied activities towards the promotion of the going green efforts. The young and the elderly, females and males, students and non-students have been involved in projects aimed at conserving the environment through going green. The University of Texas at San Antonio has not lagged behind in the efforts to save the environment (Jones, para.1). The university efforts to go green are hinged on three fronts including encouraging recycling of materials at the departmental level, sharing of the items no longer required between the students and less paper work by offering courses in largely digital ways (Shropshire, para.1). Thus, the going green efforts have been tailored to be carried out at the individual, team and departmental levels. The various efforts have had remarkable impacts on greening the environments by reducing the amount of waste and consumables in the campus. Leading the going green efforts through recycling and sharing is “The Movement”, which is a registered organization drawing membership from the student populace. In addition to the efforts of “The Movement”, the university is providing funds to operationalize recycling of used materials like papers and plastics at the departmental level (Shropshire, para.1).
The organization’s efforts are mainly focused on the collection of used papers which are recyclable. It also collects papers which are yet to be used but will otherwise be regarded as waste before they are used. The recyclable papers are given forth to recycling plants, both within the university and outside. The unused paper materials are donated to neighboring learning institutions like the Boone Elementary School for use in the school’s art classes (Shropshire, para.2).
Through the assistance of the University of Texas at San Antonio’s administration, the movement launched the “Empty Your Backpack” campaign. This campaign encourages students to hand in to the organization materials which they no longer require like notebooks, textbooks and any forms of paper. The materials handed-in are then recycled whilst those still in usable conditions are donated (Shropshire, para.3). It is noteworthy that an estimate of “more than 36.2 million sheets of paper or 4,025 trees per semester” are used by the university’s student population, thus the need to promote recycling and sharing (Shropshire, para.4). In the long run, the less felling of tree in search of paper will see the forest covers being reestablished and expanded. Forests serve to rid the air of carbon dioxide, a green house gas and thus a reduction of the current rates of global warming. It is very possible that if the efforts at UTSA are reflected in the other universities and in the general society, it will be possible to stem the adverse effects of global warming like rise in sea levels, hurricanes and diminishing of the mountainous ice caps.
The university annually celebrates the UTSA Earth Week which is replete with information to the university community and visitors on how to “live “green” and sustainably” (Jones, para.1). The event is usually organized by the Department of Environmental Health, Safety and Risk Management in conjunction with a student organization, Green Society. In the 2010 UTSA Earth Week, about thirty UTSA organizations, including departments and organizations from the neighboring community shared “information on sustainability, recycling, and water and energy conservation” (Jones, para.4). This indicates that the going green efforts in the university are not only geared on short term goals, but also long term goals like enabling a sustainable usage of available resources like water and trees, averting possible droughts.
Other efforts are offering information on usage of eco-friendly fuels and automobiles which are efficient in the way they consume fuel. The university has been able to bring on board various sponsors and supporters to its going green pursuits (Jones, para.6). The minimizing of waste is being considered on all fronts, including in the dining halls and cafes of the university, where the Green Thread Reusable Cups are being used to quench thirst, in addition to ensuring that the amount of waste is minimized (Brownlee, para.1). The reduction of the amount of waste generated from various human activities will ensure a clean environment.
The various organizations leading in the going green efforts usually encourage the university community to consider using less water, by presenting the wastage of water as wastage of financial resources. Water is conserved through the shortening of the amount of time the members of the university community use in the showering rooms. The shortening of the time has an added advantage of reducing the amount of energy spent on heating the bath water. The University of Texas at San Antonio administration has purposed to install showerheads with low flows and ensuring each faucet has its faucet aerator in high-quality working condition (Brownlee, para.2). A sustainable usage of water is important in ensuring that at UTSA and in the wider society, there residents do not suffer from lack of water, occasioned by wasteful usage of the same.
Those who commute from home to the university regularly are encouraged to use bicycles or in cases where it is possible, take a walk to the institution. This is important in cutting the amount of green-house gases emitted within the confines of the university (Shropshire, para.4). The going green enthusiasts are always quick to point out that the walking or cycling to the university is good for the physical wellbeing of those who walk as well as cutting down on the risk of cardiovascular complication and incidences of lifestyle diseases such as obesity. Those living far from the university are encouraged to rent living spaces nearer to the institution or consider avenues for telecommuting. The university administration annually commits funds to improve on the nature of the sidewalks and the lanes for use by the riders (Shropshire, para.4). This will in the long term reduce the amount of green house gases in the atmosphere and thus availing more safeguards to the all-important ozone layer.
The faculties are being encouraged to ensure that their classes use as little amount of paper as it is practically possible. The courses are now increasingly offered by having the students putting down notes in their laptops. The various assignments and examinations given are increasingly being conducted using electronic tools to minimize the amount of paper used by the students. The University of Texas at San Antonio faculties evaluates the works turned in through email or any other electronic resources available and evaluates the soft copies (Jones, para.2).
Any revisions required are similarly done using the electronic tool and resubmitted for evaluation once again. It is worth noting that the long-distance learning programs are now conducted wholly online, with barely any form of paper works changing hands between the faculty and the long-distance students. All in all, the University of Texas at San Antonio’s efforts of going green are based on three areas; recycling, sharing of the items no longer required between the students and less paper work by offering courses in largely digital ways. The reduction of the consumables and waste will ensure that a sustainable usage of the resources available is actualized. The forest cover in the university and the wider society is set to increase if the efforts are sustained.
Brownlee, Tim. Sustainability: Eat And Drink Green At All UTSA Dining Venues. The University of Texas at San Antonio, 2010.
Retrieved on October 5, 2011 from: ww.utsa.edu/today/2010/09/drinkgreen.html
Jones, Jared. UTSA Earth Week Events Offer Tips for Living Greener Lives. The University of Texas at San Antonio, 2010. Retrieved on October 5, 2011 from:
Shropshire, Stephanie. UTSA Students Start Organization Based On Philanthropy And
Going Green. The University of Texas at San Antonio, 2011. Retrieved on October 5, 2010 from:
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