In 2011, Academic Advising began taking steps to becoming more sustainable. ¬†As a result, we have gone paperless in many aspects of our operations. ¬†Our sustainability efforts have specifically resulted in the following:
- Scanning of over 18,000 student documents (all of which were shredded and recycled).
- Elimination of First Year Essay book printing. ¬†All materials are now made online.
- Elimination of most mass printing orders, and shift to real-time printing, based on student demand.
- Inclusion of sustainability as a topic addressed through the Project Earth service-learning project.
Project Earth was created to provide UALR’s first year students with the¬†first-hand opportunity to create, grow, and lead their own service-learning project. ¬†In spring 2012, the first year initiative is focused on engaging UALR students, faculty, and staff to engage in and become more aware of sustainability. ¬†More about Project Earth.
What is sustainability? ¬†According to¬†MIT Sloan Management Review, sustainability is “…the idea that systems…need to be regenerative and balanced in order to last.” ¬†In essence, the world has a fixed amount of resources, so in order for “us” to thrive, we need to find ways to either extend our resources or at least conserve it. ¬†Though readily politicized, sustainability is an issue that affects many. ¬†Whether one’s interest in sustainability revolves around the need to conserve, the need to scientifically innovate, or even encourage economic factors, sustainability can bring people together.
Did you know? ¬†Two interesting statistics based on epa.gov data are as follows:
- In 2010, the U.S. used about 71 million tons of paper & paperboard. ¬†If we could recycle just half of this paper, we would save over 600 million new trees ¬†from being cut down and another 248 billion gallons of water from being used.
- The state of Florida, according to a 2002 report, hosted nearly 3,700 recycling and reuse establishments, employing approximately 32,000 people, generating an annual payroll of $765 million and netting $4.4 billion in annual revenues.
This past January, Academic Advising, the administrator of the First Year Courses, discussed sustainability with over 180 first year students. ¬†As a part of this students were engaged in discussion about sustainability and one country that has seen first-hand the important of addressing sustainability:
- Due to extreme deforestation in the northern front of this country, they experience extreme sandstorms. ¬†In 2006 specifically, winds dumped almost 300,000 tons of sand in one of its major cities stifling economic productivity.
- This country has also¬†banned logging in natural forests, started a ten-billion-dollar reforestation project, and announced plans to invest a billion dollars a year over 30 years to expand protected areas¬†[Source: ¬†National Geographic].
The country discussed was China. ¬†As a result of this conversation, over 50 students came together to form Project EARTH. ¬†Discussion was also had to streamline the implementation of this initiative, while also¬†reducing duplication of existing programs for the purposes of improved impact. ¬†Led by first year student Mario Montenegro, mentored by first year student Christi Kim, our 50+ volunteers, and our 22 partner groups have worked to make the Project a success. ¬†As a result, the Project Earth team donated $300 in support of sustainability efforts at Children’s International and garnered over 550 pledges from UALR students, faculty, and staff, each who pledged to engage in more sustainable practices!