Sustainability goals and objectives can only be achieved by a strongly connected community. The Office for Sustainability (OFS) is dedicated to supporting and enhancing these connections within the campus community and throughout our city, region, state, nation, and world. Bridges between communities enhance understanding, which improve creativity in solving common problems. These bridges are built through relationships between people, which are reinforced during the events hosted by the OFS. Our Land-Grant Mission is to provide education and outreach to our community. Exploring new ways of thinking about common problems is the key to creating innovation. The events hosted by the OFS focus on integrating social networking with education on the science of sustainability.
Campus Conservation Nationals
Campus Conservation Nationals was a three-week competition between universities across the nation to see which residence halls could reduce their energy and water consumption the most. The Residents Interhall Congress hosted the competition between the 18 residence halls, including the Duncan Ave Apartments. The winning residence hall won a new hydration station.
The U of A competed in the National RecycleMania competition for the 8th year in a row. The goal this year was to collect more than last year’s total of 240,00 pounds of recycled material. Close to 400 Colleges and Universities competed in this years competition. The U of A finished out with a 17% diversion rate and the entire competition suceeded in diverting a total of 81.1 million pounds of recycled and composted material.
RecycleMania Book Drive
In March the Student Sustainability Club, in partnership with RecycleMania and Better World Books, participated in a month-long book drive. Better World Books, a company dedicated to reducing the impact of discarding unwanted books to landfills, sent collection boxes to distribute across the U of A campus for people to drop off any gently used books. Better World Books then donated, sold, or recycled all of the books that were collected. This money was used to support other sustainability programs.
The University of Arkansas campus celebrated Earth Week from April 20th-24th this year. A number of organizations hosted a variety of events. The OFS hosted a Vendor Fair and a Sustainability Capstone Project Presentation.
Earth Day Information Fair
This year the Earth Day vendor fair was set up in the Arkansas Union Connections Lounge and included local organizations and businesses such as Ozark Natural Foods, City of Fayetteville Recycling, and Keep America Beautiful. Various other University departments and RSO’s were also there to promote their environmental work by giving handouts and prizes to students. After the tables were put away, the Office for Sustainability partnered with Beaver Watershed Alliance and many volunteers for an afternoon cleanup of Mullins Creek.
Capstone Poster Display
Students pursuing a Sustainability Minor are required to complete a capstone project, and each year a posters are displayed in the Arkansas Union for Earth Day to present their work to students and the public. This year a reception was also held to celebrate the students’ achievements. Students were present at the reception to discuss their projects and answer questions. The posters were on display in the union for all of Earth Week and students were encouraged to stop and review the projects in between classes.
The Office for Sustainability (OFS), by invitation of AASHE, expanded the success of Campus Sustainability Day, historically held on the 4th Wednesday in October, to extend throughout the entire month of October. This was the first year that the University organized a Campus Sustainability Month, and we look forward to its return in 2016.
The OFS kicked off Campus Sustainability Month with passionate students at the Union Mall on October 2 for the Know Tomorrow event. On that day, students across the country participated in a day of action to raise awareness of the COP21 Paris Climate Conference in December. Organized by the Student Sustainability Club, Know Tomorrow was a nationwide call to all college students to understand the importance of climate change and show support for affirmative action against it. Know Tomorrow events were held across the nation as well as on the U of A campus.
Project Green Challenge
With the support of the OFS, The Student Sustainability Club competed in the Project Green Challenge, a 30-day eco-lifestyle challenge for students around the world to become more aware of sustainable practices. A team of two students earned a position in the top 16 and received an all-expense paid trip to San Francisco for Turning Green’s Eco-Summit.
On October 9th, UREC Outdoors and the Razorbikes Bicycle Sharing Program joined Office for Sustainability in hosting the second annual Bike Fest. The purpose of Bike Fest was to show students how easy owning a bike can be. Students were invited to register their bike through the university for free, get advice for any tune-ups or repairs from professionals, and enter a raffle to win a free bike. By highlighting the accessibility and fun associated with bike commuting, the OFS wants students to be inspired to bike more instead of driving in an effort to reduce their carbon footprints.
World Food Day
The OFS celebrated World Food Day on October 15th with a free screening of Just Eat It, a critically acclaimed documentary exposing the magnitude of food waste in North America. Razorback Food Recovery sponsored a discussion about food recovery efforts on campus, and the film was followed with a discussion to reflect on the local impact of food waste and hunger. The event was focused on raising awareness of the local and global crisis facing us in regards to our food and the mismanagement of it as a resource.