Sustainability is a broad concept that can encompass environmental, financial, and social sustainability. What comes to mind when you hear the word “sustainability?” There are many opportunities to get involved in sustainability on campus and learn about strategies you can use for a sustainable lifestyle.
1) Set your sustainability goals
Sustainability and integrating sustainable practices into your day-to-day life is an ongoing journey. Consider where you are in your academic career, what your life goals are at the moment and how sustainability can work together with your current habits. You can set sustainability goals to meet daily, weekly, monthly or even things you want to achieve by the end of the year.
2) Connect with the campus sustainability community
The UW Sustainability Office is one place to start when looking for sustainability resources, workshops, and volunteer opportunities. From Bike Month to Waste Week, the BioBlitz and more, the Sustainability Office has many opportunities for students to get involved. Check out @uwsustainable on Instagram to see more about events and the UW Sustainability Report which outlines the sustainability goals and progress of UW.
KWRepair runs the repair community on campus, offering workshops where you can bring in items for repair and learn about repair techniques. By repairing items and extending their life, you can cut back on waste.
UW Campus Compost is one of many campus clubs dedicated to sustainability, collecting compost on campus, leading workshops, and gathering a team of volunteers to create sustainability content. You can learn more @uwcampuscompost and sign up to volunteer.
Academically, UW has nearly 500 courses related to environmental sustainability. Sustainability related diplomas and specializations can be added to your degree, and the Sustainability Office has a webpage dedicated to educational opportunities.
For those living in residence there are sustainability opportunities unique to Campus Housing and the university colleges. Green Residence Ambassadors are students who live in Campus Housing residences that play an important role in driving campus sustainability. UWP has an organics collection program you can sign up for. United College has a dedicated green team.
ENVigorate is another opportunity to participate and volunteer. The festival is comprised of various sustainability-themed workshops such as tree printmaking, connecting to the land through dance, beeswax candle and wrap making, spoon carving and more.
To find campus opportunities check out UW social media, reach out to friends who are involved, or start your own sustainability project.
3) Find your passion
As you set your sustainability goals and explore the various campus resources available, you can develop your passion for a specific sustainability topic or keep your interests broad! The WWF Living Planet Leader program is a program you can self-register for and log your environmental and sustainability involvement. Receiving a Living Planet Leader designation can help in developing your sustainability knowledge and passion.
4) Take action
Getting involved is the first step to taking action, and action plays an important role in changing yourself and your community for the better. Participating in and organizing workshops, helping start conversations about sustainability, and volunteering at sustainability events are all ways to put your sustainability ideas into practice. Taking sustainability-themed courses and learning about the history and future of sustainability and putting that education into action through involvement will ensure a sustainable campus.
5) Build community
Sustainability is a community effort. Talk to your friends, reach out to family, set sustainability goals together, and keep each other on track. Working together, connecting with others, learning from each other, and building a sustainable community is important to effect lasting sustainable change.