Benjamin Zimmer, President of the University of Central Oklahoma’s Students for Sustainability organization stands and addresses members at a meeting on Thursday, February 23. This organization focuses on reducing waste and other sustainable practices. (Ryan Naeve/ The Vista)
Students for Sustainability is a new on-campus organization designed to educate UCO’s community and to get others involved in sustainable practices.
Sustainability encompasses social justice, healthy environments and strong economies, according to the Office of Sustainability’s website.
The organization is focusing on reducing waste and offering sustainable food sources for the campus. The group had its first general meeting on last Thursday, where members brainstormed plans for the future.
“All I could think in my head was like, well we need, you know, some type of organization to facilitate other students getting involved in this to try to like, you know, push for more sustainable practices on campus,” President Benjamin Zimmer said.
Zimmer said as he and the group’s adviser, Manager of Sustainability Eric Hemphill, looked at how to start Students for Sustainability by noticing that volunteerism could be an important component.
“We didn’t really have much of an idea, but then once we started kind of contemplating everything, it really started kind of forming into, you know, almost like a service-type organization,” Zimmer said.
Some students involved with the group will also take part in Local Alternative Spring Break, March 16-18. Students can volunteer at the university’s community gardens and learn about food security.
The organization is hosting activities to promote and encourage reducing waste. Their first activity was “Starbucks for Sustainability.” The group offered reusable coffee cups with a voucher for free coffee, and a punch card to earn a free drink from the Nigh University Center Starbucks after purchasing five.
They also plan to host a table during Earth Week, April 17-21. The details are still being planned, but the group may accept donated T-shirts to make tote bags. They are also considering making “Salsa for Sustainability” from organic ingredients.
Invest in a single reusable travel mug and fill with your favorite beverages rather than using a disposable cup #greentipoftheday
— UCO Sustainability (@UCOGreen) November 11, 2016
The Office of Sustainability cites a quote from Richard Wright and Dorothy Boorse’s book, “Toward a Sustainable Future,” to define sustainability as: “The ability to provide for the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.”
The office’s website details a few areas where the campus demonstrates sustainability, such as the community gardens, recycling, use of biodiesel fuel and Oklahoma wind power.
“That’s kind of the whole mission of this organization is just to promote [sustainability] on campus and then to get people involved,” Zimmer said.
Hemphill also emphasized students’ role to increasing sustainability on campus.
“It starts with student interaction, because nothing has ever been done in the history of higher education without students going, ‘hey, do this,’” Hemphill said. “Nothing ever happens without students starting it.”
Students for Sustainability is planning its next general meeting, where they plan to discuss elections for president and officer positions for the fall.