What is sustainability? The typical response from students on the Arizona Western College campus is a blank stare quickly followed by a choppy answer derived from context clues.
The idea of sustainability has yet to fully penetrate the consciousness of the student body here, raising problems the various clubs and organizations face as they strive to make AWC a more sustainable campus: That is, how can we effectively strive for sustainability if we don't fully comprehend what it is? Then, once we know what it is, how can we help?
Not rocket science
The beauty of sustainability is that it isn't rocket science. Sustainability, simply put, is the capacity to endure. Across the globe there is a growing understanding that we need to create a long-term view on maintaining our environment and managing our resources. We can do this by simply re-evaluating our everyday decisions and striving to act more conservatively towards the environment.
Here at AWC, incorporating the often-repeated slogan "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" into our lives is one of the easiest ways to become sustainable. The creation of this long-term view will not only bring the campus one step closer to functioning sustainably, but this movement will follow students wherever they go, influencing the rest of the community, the state, the country and eventually the world.
Many individuals and clubs are helping to make AWC more sustainable, with perhaps the most obvious example sitting right outside the front parking lot. Though some may consider the solar arrays an eyesore, by "going solar" the College has greatly reduced its carbon footprint and its need for electricity from outside sources.
A less obvious effort on campus is the recycling program, run completely by students of the Recycling Committee to raise awareness about the need to recycle.
How can you help? When you have an empty Gatorade bottle, instead of tossing it in the trash, take a few extra steps and throw it into the recycling bins located in high traffic areas such as the Library, the Eatery, the Student Success Center and the dorms.
If every student were to recycle, AWC would be closer to its goal of achieving sustainability. If simply recycling is not enough for you, feel free to join the Recycling Committee activities and get hands-on experience. The Committee is part of the Science Club, which meets Mondays at noon in SR 108.
One more way you can aid recycling efforts is to take part in the survey that the Committee is circulating around campus. This survey not only is meant to raise awareness of the importance of recycling, but is also aimed at gaining support for recycling from students and faculty alike.
Now you know the what, the how and the why. The last and most important step needed is all up to you. The only thing that will make AWC truly sustainable is the efforts of individual students. So don't read this, then toss it and move on with your life. Go out there and make a difference.