Eco-friendly or Nah?

Is IU Southeast up to par on its Sustainability efforts?


Joshua Roy

Recycling and landfill bins on campus.

Candace Leilani, Staff Reporter

IU Southeast has improved their efforts on trying to recycle what is available, keep the ground clean of trash and replenish the soil with planting new flowers every year. The sustainability opportunities on campus have increased over the few years, but is there more we can do?

College universities become the place where students find themselves. Sustainability is something being brought into the perspective of students on campus. There is even an association that cares about the increasing efforts of sustainability to campuses around the U.S. Because of this group of people, there are scores given to US college campuses to those whose sustainability efforts are more advanced than others.

Are college campuses doing all they can do to save the planet from more trash, fewer fumes in the air and more ozone exposure? It all depends on who you ask.

The Sustainability Club

Vice President of the IU Southeast Sustainability Club and Psychology and Sociology double major Senior Autumn Hockenbury revealed where students should begin to expand their knowledge about sustainability and all it entails.  

Hockenbury said she encourages students and community members to research on their own on the limitations humans have put on natural resources and look at the amount of plastic each person uses once, just once before being thrown into the trash.

“That piece of plastic which was used for a few minutes will take up space in a landfill for up to a thousand years,” Hockenbury said. “I personally think that because we all share this Earth with each other, and future generations, we also should share the responsibility of ensuring the conservation of our natural resources.”

IU Southeast has tried to combat the issue of plastic bottles on campus by introducing the Gus Cups last year for approximately $10 in order for students to use them for their beverages instead of plastic bottles or paper cups.

IU Southeast also incorporated a compost tumbler for students to throw away their leftover scraps of food and added more recycling bins across campus to become more eco-friendly.

A recycling bin near the game room. Photo by Joshua Roy

The Sustainability Club hosts many events throughout the year that are open to the public for learning experiences. In past years, they have hosted days to clean up the local parks of trash and have also set up a table in the hallway in front of the bookstore to show what it is they stand for, hoping to bring in volunteers and new club members.

How Does Recycling Fall Into This Category?

Our society is trying to be better at giving consumers the chance to be eco-friendly or make decisions that would better our ecosystem. Brittany Harris, president of the Sustainability Club and double major in neuroscience and sociology, has noticed the changes more since taking classes here at IU Southeast.

“I think our culture is trying to transition to going green and becoming sustainable. So many of the tools people need are not easily accessible,” Harris said. “For example, two years ago if you went to the grocery store, you might not have thought twice about using your plastic bag.”

Propaganda and promotional campaigns have brought more awareness to the issue of trash and waste. IU Southeast has worked on becoming more eco-friendly too due to these societal and cultural inspirations to become greener.

What are Other Campuses Doing?

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) works to “help coordinate and strengthen campus sustainability efforts at regional and national levels, and to serve as the first North American professional association for those interested in advancing campus sustainability” according to their website.

Campuses around the country have been working on their sustainability efforts longer than IU Southeast has. Colorado State University has been given the highest rating of sustainability and the label of greenest campus because of becoming the first solar-heated/air-conditioned on-campus building. Sterling College in Vermont works toward better food options and less waste on campus by removing all vending machines from campus and serving 20% of their food from a student-run farm. Both of these campuses alongside others around the U.S. work hard to keep their carbon footprint in check.

What’s Happening at IUS?

Recycling bins have been placed alongside the normal trash can in each classroom. There are more recycling bins in the hallways of each building on campus to allow paper in all forms to be reused rather than cut down more trees. Reusable cups are available for purchase to decrease the use of cups and plastic bottles. The compost tumbler, placed between UC North and UC South by the maintenance entrance, is used to decompose plant-based scraps to be used potentially for gardening on campus as explained by the sustainability club.

The composting station at IU Southeast contains organic material to break down waste for fresh soil to reuse. Students can churn this container and add materials to like dry wood flakes to help the process. Photo by Jesse Moberly

The IU Southeast Sustainability Club has been working on putting together more days for park clean-up days, working on adding credit to their STARS report from local sustainability efforts and seeking out where their proposition to the campus board stands on placing recycling bins in the parking lots.

There are reports from the sustainability club that there could be an experimental biology lab put towards the use of the compost tumbler. For more information, talk to the sustainability club members and Randy Hunt, biology professor and the man in charge of the sustainability club itself.

Where to Look to be Sustainable

There is a Sustainability Summit each year hosted by the Louisville Sustainability Council that allows those interested in sustainable efforts or those searching for more information to make it out and learn more. This year’s summit was on Oct. 19th, but they linked audio files, presentations and other information to their website for the public to learn more if they would like.

The IUS Sustainability Club is searching for more club members and other students who are interested in becoming club leaders for upcoming elections. Message them through their Facebook page for more details.