Sustainability

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

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!