The Sierra Club recognized Western as one of the top 200 for schools in the nation for on-campus sustainability and sustainability education programs.
In May, sustainability leaders at Western applied for the raking with the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club then examined aspects of each university and what schools are doing to help the community be more sustainable on campus and beyond.
The award, which was announced in the august edition of Sierra Magazine (the national magazine of the Sierra Club), came at the beginning of Western's plan to be zero waste by 2020. Zero waste is defined as a philosophy that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. No trash is sent to landfills or incinerators.
"We currently hold a bronze star report for sustainability initiatives on campus. That is a great start!" said Nathan King, Western director of sustainability. "We are currently at 25 percent diversion rate for waste and our goal is to be at 80-90 percent diversion. We have a way to go."
Current programs available on Western's campus include recycling facilities within close proximity to dumpsters, encouraging students to actively sort their waste. Also available are compost bins in both the residence halls and the dining hall.
The compost generated by students goes to the garden at Chipeta Hall, and the produce from that garden is sold at the local farmers market. Students have the chance to learn how to compost, what it does for the garden and how it is beneficial to the school.
"Our goal is to train more students and staff to help make school events zero waste, and to guide students in the right direction about what plastics are OK to recycle and beyond," King said.
Students involved with the LEAD office are writing a grant to provide funding to purchase a new composter called the Rocket Composter. This composter will be able to break down more food products, helping Western get closer to the zero-waste goal.
Western is on track to become a zero-waste campus and any student who is interested in joining this action team should contact King in Faculties Service or in the LEAD office. With these new ideas and more students becoming involved, Western's goal of being zero waste is in reach.
Story by Grace Flynn. Photo provided by Nathan King.